Based on research by Brooks, 2013, written by Kyle Piecora, M.S.
Anxiety is an inevitable human emotion. Are there ways of tricking ourselves into not feeling anxious?
Dr. Alison Brooks of Harvard Business School performed psychological research aiming to see if people could be taught to replace anxiety with excitement, a positive emotional experience similar to anxiety. Subjects were told they would sing karaoke in front of a researcher, and would be rewarded monetarily based on a measurement of singing accuracy. When asked “How are you?” subjects were required to either respond with and believe in randomly assigned emotional statements indicating they were anxious or excited, or to not respond at all. They then sang “Don’t Stop Believin” by Journey. Those who were asked to state they were excited before singing scored significantly higher in their singing performance! Similar results occurred when asked to public speak. Those who were required to say they were excited instead of calm, spoke longer and were perceived as more competent and confident!
If you are nervous about performance, try to reappraise your anxiety as excitement. Adopt an opportunity mind-set, tell yourself, “I’m excited!” It may be easier than calming yourself down since it feels similar, and it will more likely help you perform better!
Brooks, A. W. (2013). Get excited: Reappraising pre-performance anxiety as excitement. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, DOI: 10.1037/a0035325.