How to make anxiety your friend

A reader who’s left the corporate world and is embarking on a new entrepreneurial venture sent this question:
“At what point does being ‘responsible’ shift into just being caught in a negative mindset where it’s all about avoiding risk and liability?

When does due diligence change into just putting your energy and focus into the negative?”

Imagine you’ve landed on the island of Maui and you’re at the rental car lot.
The smiling attendant points out your car and tells you to check it for dings, dents, and scratches. You take the little piece of paper with the drawing of a car on it and start circling your vehicle.

Your purpose is to see what’s there to see – to make notes about the dings – and then get into the car and on the road.

If you’re still circling the car after 10 minutes, going over the same dings, and leaning in really close to look for variations in the paint color – you’re missing the point.

The point is to be clear about the condition of the car and then to start driving it.
Granted, starting a new business (or new relationship or new project) has more risk than renting a car. But, the process of checking and re-checking can trap you just the same.

It’s important to complete your “due diligence” – to see what there is to see before you move forward.
But, if you find yourself revisiting the same concerns and same issues again and again, you’ve moved past diligence into the hamster wheel of your mind. The hamster wheel won’t move you forward.

And that’s what you need. To move forward. Either get in the car (business, project, relationship) and start the engine. Or walk away. Either choice moves you forward.

But, re-checking won’t help.
Because you’re not going to find anything new by rechecking – just further reflections of your own anxiety. Not new reflections, either. The same old reflections, the same doubts, fears, and questions.

Some of these doubts can be answered.
These are the technical, practical, issues that you can investigate using logic, analysis, and expert advice. And if you’ve done your due diligence, you’ve answered these questions.

Then, there are the questions that can’t be answered.
Questions that start the hamster wheel of anxiety, doubt, and hope spinning faster and faster.

You can’t find answers for these questions through logic, analysis, or expert advice. There really are no answers to these questions. They are reflections of the inherent uncertainty of life and the creative process. If you want to live more fully and create more intentionally – you’re going to experience anxiety.

Not that anxiety is bad.
In the words of Fritz Perls, anxiety is “excitement without breathing”. You don’t handle anxiety with more checking, more due diligence, more analysis. That just intensifies it.

You transform anxiety by accepting it and by breathing.
Accept the anxiety as an asphyxiated form of excitement. Appreciate that you’re excited and breathe.

The breathing itself will naturally convert the anxiety into enthusiastic energy.
It’s a good feeling. But, it’s not the same as being certain. The future is inherently uncertain. That’s what makes it exciting (keep breathing). It’s the uncertainty of the future that makes it capable of being shaped by your creativity and actions.

But, only if you stop circling the vehicle and start driving.

Put this into practice:

  • Where in your life are repetitively “circling the car”?
  • What are the uncertainties that you want to put to rest?
  • Try this – accept these as questions that can’t be answered and feel where there may be anxiety or contraction in your body.

Love & Shanti,
E & D

This subject and other similar are addressed in our Wisdom Heart Community teachings. To learn more about the Wisdom Heart Community click here.


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