Beat Anxiety with Passion, Purpose, and Even Fun
Beating anxiety involves intentionally doing the opposite of what anxiety is at its core. Anxiety isn't fun, it is almost devoid of positive purpose, and it robs us of passion for pursuing life. Therefore, cultivating passion, purpose, and fun despite anxiety can go far in beating anxiety.
Beating Anxiety with Passion, Purpose, and Fun Is Actually Possible
I used to live my life in fear of doing things wrong (or just not good enough) and failing at every endeavor. I also worried about being judged negatively by others. This anxiety is a mixture of generalized anxiety ("What if I'm not good enough and bad things happen?"), performance anxiety ("What if I fail?"), and social anxiety ("What if I say the wrong thing or don't say the right thing or do something so ridiculous that others think I'm totally incompetent and inferior?"). Indeed, there is a strong link between social anxiety and perfectionism.
People are capable of tremendous growth--all people, including you and me. Thankfully, I've grown past this crushing, internal anxiety. (I say "internal" because that's where my anxiety resided. On the outside, few people knew that I lived with anxiety.) I do still have anxious thoughts and emotions, but I'm not consumed by them. I recognize them as mere thoughts and fleeting feelings and am able to let them go, switching my focus to better things. I'm okay with this level of anxiety because anxiety does have useful aspects. Some anxiety keeps us alert and on our toes, ready and engaged. Feeling some anxiety means we care.
I no longer experience the debilitating anxiety that once dominated my inner world. So what happened? Why the change from anxious to calm in very similar situations?
The Anxiety-Healing Power of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Positive Psychology
My new relationship with myself and anxiety comes from the well-researched counseling and psychology approaches acceptance and commitment therapy and positive psychology. Both emphasize, among other things, concepts like:
- Mindfulness and its associated ideas of acceptance, nonjudgement, present moment awareness, etc.
- Understanding the difference between our thoughts and our true selves; who we are at our core
- Identifying our values, what's most important to us for our lives
- Discovering ways to take committed action, step by purposeful step, to create our quality lives despite challenges
When I began to shift my focus from the fear of screwing up to my passion and my purpose (what I do and why I do it), my anxiety began to loosen its grip. I write, speak, create courses, and give webinars with a passion and a purpose: to connect with others and to help them help themselves increase their wellbeing despite problems like anxiety and stress. It's something bigger than I am, and it isn't about myself or my ego. It's about a greater purpose.
This is just my own humble purpose. Each of us has our own unique, wonderful purpose in life. We all have things that bring meaning. It's a matter of allowing ourselves to explore who we are beyond things like anxiety.
Beating Anxiety Has a Reward: A Sense of Fun
When I take the focus off myself and put it where it's supposed to be (on my values, passions, and sense of purpose), I find that my anxiety decreases and is replaced with a sense of ease. Ironically, by not worrying and ruminating about failing, I am more likely to succeed.
This focus on purpose and passion rather than on failure and my personal shortcomings has another advantage, one which further reduces anxiety. It creates a sense of lightheartedness and joy and allows me to experience fun. I can be present in each moment as it is, letting go of my old habits of worrying about failure. When that happens, I can relax and actually have fun in my moments. (And no, not every moment is fun and games, but even the heavy moments are somehow lighter when guided by passion, purpose, and a sense of play).
I invite you to watch this video to discover an exercise to help you develop your own sense of passion, purpose, and fun.
Peterson, T. (2021, May 27). Beat Anxiety with Passion, Purpose, and Even Fun, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, August 13 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2021/5/beat-anxiety-with-passion-purpose-and-even-fun