(Video link here.) There was a time when I traveled the country promoting cookbooks I’d written, waking before dawn to appear on morning tv shows around the country. I almost always had intense stage fright, with autonomic reactions I could only control with medication: rapid heart rate, trembling hands, feeling beside myself and rather frozen. I wonder what would have happened had I known neuroscientist Ian Robertson’s “magic trick” that transforms certain forms of anxiety and fear into excitement.
According to Robertson rapid heart beat, twisting stomach, dry mouth, sweating are symptoms of anxiety, anger AND excitement. In this BBC video, he shows that you can often change a negative feeling into excitement just by “writing a little line of code in your mind”. Rather than trying to become calm, it’s easier and more effective to reframe nervous feelings as positive energy. His simple formula: Take the power pose (stand up tall, with your chest out and your hands on your hips), and say,
I feel excited!
Robertson may be exaggerating the effect of the technique somewhat; I’m not sure people with serious anxiety disorder are going to be helped by it. But I have found it helpful in helping me navigate situations that are my introvert’s equivalent of ziplining: walking into a cocktail party, talking to people about my work, being filmed or photographed…