How to turn anxiety into useful mental energy

Wikipedia defines Anxiety as follows:

Anxiety is an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by nervous behavior, such as pacing back and forth, somatic complaints and rumination. It is the subjectively unpleasant feelings of dread over anticipated events, such as the feeling of imminent death. Anxiety is not the same as fear, which is a response to a real or perceived immediate threat; whereas anxiety is the expectation of future threat. Anxiety is a feeling of fear, worry, and uneasiness, usually generalized and unfocused as an overreaction to a situation that is only subjectively seen as menacing. It is often accompanied by muscular tension, restlessness, fatigue, and problems in concentration.

Anxiety can be debilitating to performance of any kind. But let’s consider the idea that anxiety is simply a form of mental energy.

Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. But it can be converted into different forms.

Anxiety is generally not a useful form of mental energy. But it is a form of mental energy that can be made useful. The trick is to convert this energy into more productive forms like aggression, focus and determination.

Anxiety is a form of energy that points more to fear and flight and tension.

Aggression, focus and determination are energies that point more towards fight, survive, win.

How do you convert anxiety and nervousness into aggression, focus and determination?

The concept of converting mental energy sounds simple but it takes work. Most people who experience anxiety become so unconscious and so consumed by it that nothing can snap them out of it- but converting this mental energy can be trained.

Awareness is the first and most important step. Like so many things that go on internally awareness of it must happen before anything can be done about it. Awareness of anxiety allows separation from it.

Then it’s simply a matter of choice. Choose to convert that energy into aggression focus, determination or any other kind of useful mental energy. Physical action can help this process. Get primal with it. Throw yourself at the situation with aggression, focus, determination. Choose fight instead of flight. Choose determination instead of timidity. Choose certainty instead of hesitation. Choose belief instead of doubt.

But you have to practice this- you have to practice it daily in workouts and in life situations. Awareness first then choice.

The mind is like a muscle you have to work it like any other muscle. Awareness and choice are the exercises.


Anxiety can also be considered a heightened degree of activation energy which is best discussed in another post.

About Jasper

Jasper is an Ironman Champion and professional athlete turned coach and entrepreneur. He also has a passion for the philosophical and creative side of life. This is his personal blog.

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