Is anxiety your hidden ally? 3 ways you can use it to thrive

Anxiety is often seen as a foe, but what if we could turn it into a friend? 

Contrary to its negative reputation, anxiety can be harnessed to help us thrive in various aspects of life. Here are three effective strategies to make anxiety work for you [1]:

1. Reframe anxiety as a source of motivation

Anxiety often stems from our fear of the unknown. It’s that jittery feeling before a big presentation or an important event. 

Instead of letting this anxiety hold you back, reframe it as a powerful source of motivation [2]. Embrace anxiety as a signal that what you’re about to do matters to you. It can help you stay alert, focused and perform at your best.

For instance, if you’re anxious about a job interview, use that energy to prepare thoroughly, research the company and practice your answers. This way, anxiety transforms from a stumbling block into a stepping stone for success.

2. Leverage anxiety to enhance decision-making

Anxiety isn’t always about fear but also about caring deeply. When we’re anxious about a decision, we value the outcome. This intense emotion can be a valuable tool for decision-making.

Rather than avoiding decisions that make you anxious, embrace them. Use your anxiety to assess the situation from all angles, consider the potential consequences and make informed choices.

It can help you avoid impulsive decisions and steer you towards options that align with your values and goals.

3. Transform anxiety into resilience

Anxiety can be a great teacher, helping us build resilience. It pushes us out of our comfort zones and forces us to adapt to challenging situations. By confronting anxiety-inducing situations, we become more resilient over time.

To harness anxiety for resilience, identify the situations that trigger your anxiety [3]. Gradually expose yourself to these situations in controlled ways. As you gain experience and realize you can handle them, your anxiety lessens and your resilience grows.

Anxiety doesn’t have to be a constant adversary. It can be a powerful force for good when we change our perspective and learn to work with it.

Per international relationship expert Sue Johnson in Time, “when we embrace and express our need for connection during challenging moments, it begets greater connection and turns our anxiety into love.”

Using anxiety as motivation, a decision-making tool and a catalyst for building resilience, we can transform this often misunderstood emotion into a valuable ally on our journey to personal growth and success.

[1] https://time.com/6324845/anxiety-beneficial-essay/
[2] https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/feeling-nervous-how-anxiety-can-fuel-better-communication
[3] https://www.harvardonline.harvard.edu/course/building-personal-resilience-managing-anxiety-mental-health

Photograph: MgrSanko/
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