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Anxiety and Excitement

The difference in the narrative

There is a fine line between anxiety and excitement.

On a physiological level the two emotions are experienced in quite similar ways. I’m talking to that mix of symptoms often referred to as the fight-or-flight (-or-freeze) response. The line between anxiety and excitement is the approach to uncertainty. This has to do with our internal narrative.

Anything we have no control over will make us feel uncertain, and our response to uncertainty is different according to our beliefs on the situation. This means that the narrative is entirely a cognitive process.

The reason why we get excited, instead of anxious, is that we have a positive outlook on future events. When we’re anxious, our relation to uncertainty is more problematic and sometimes it can become overwhelming.

Learning to be more open to uncertainty can help us to reframe unhelpful narratives and ultimately to be less affected by anxiety.