Anxiety is a sign post. It tells you that you’re being triggered by your environment and thus reaching your self-imposed limitations. This article is going to teach you how to turn anxiety into creativity. By the end of it you will know how to use anxiety, or any other negative emotion, to your advantage.
If this sounds like something which could benefit you, read on!
Anxiety As Fear
Anxiety is a form of fear. I believe fear presents itself in our lives as a teacher. Read this article of mine and you will learn why I believe that about fear.
All anxiety has something in common: the cause.
Anxiety stems from focusing on what could go wrong in the future. It comes from us projecting ourselves onto the worst-case scenarios we can possibly imagine. For example, people who experience social anxiety imagine themselves being judged by others in harsh and unforgiving ways.
That judgment always happens in the future, and it is always imagined. It has no bearing on what the situation actually is. But oftentimes anxious people focus so much on the worst case scenario that they actually create it for themselves, just by giving it all of their attention. Our attention is creative, after all.
I’m a firm believer that what we see in others is actually a reflection of ourselves. Because we see the world not as it is, but as we are. What does an honest person see in the people he or she interacts with? Honesty. The same applies to a person who regularly lies. A regular liar sees himself/herself in the people he/she encounters, which is why liars are suspicious and calculating.
We see the world not as it is, but as we are.
Anxiety As A Sign
So what does it mean when someone perceives a situation as anxiety-producing?
Think about it…
Why does a person who experience social anxiety experience it in the first place?
Because they’re afraid of being judged.
We can go deeper here. Why is a person afraid of being judged? Because that person knows he/she judges others.
We see in others what we see in ourselves. If we’re afraid of the judgment of others it’s because we are guilty of judging others in the first place. Since we do it to others we believe others do it to us.
So our anxiety is a reflection of us, not of the world.
The anxiety we feel, not just social anxiety but any kind of anxiety, is a sign of spiritual work we have to do on ourselves. Experiencing anxiety is a learning opportunity.
Because we can then examine what causes the anxiety. By examining the cause we can understand how our environment caused us to react in such a way. That cause is also known as a trigger.
Triggers are the things we encounter in our lives which cause us to react unconsciously, meaning we stop being present and we allow our conditioned ego to control us.
Everyone has their own triggers. People who experience road rage have their triggers; so do people who get in shouting matches in the checkout line at the supermarket and people who experience social anxiety.
Some Of My Triggers Are…
One of my triggers is workaholism. When I learn of a person spending too much time working at the cost of their health or social relationships I can get critical and confrontational. I become judgmental. This is because of my personal experience with workaholism. I despise it, I think it’s a form of masochism which is encouraged by our productivity-obsessed civilization. So naturally, whenever I meet someone who professes workaholism this triggers me. It shows me I have work to do in forgiving workaholics.
Another trigger I had was scarcity anxiety.
I left the world of traditional employment in 2017. I would get anxious when I thought about all the things that could go wrong in my life; how I was taking a massive risk by leaving the route of traditional employment and how I was at risk of being poor and homeless for the rest of my life because of this decision (imagining the worst case scenario).
The situations which would trigger this anxiety revolved around money; not having enough of it. Any time I ran up against my financial brokenness I would start projecting myself into the future and imagining the worst.
This took up tremendous amounts of emotional energy. Energy which I could have been using to solve my problem instead! Our emotions are our drivers. By wasting our emotional energy worrying we are actually hurting our chances of improving our situation.
By identifying our triggers and healing our emotional traumas can release oceans of creative energy.
Eventually, I resolved my scarcity anxiety. Now I have more energy to actually solve my problem, rather than just worry about it (read this article for more on that).
Are you aware of your triggers?
From Anxiety To Creativity
So now that we’ve established that anxiety is a sign of work we have to do we can move on to how to do so.
In a word: Presence.
See, the only way we can recognize anxiety as a sign for our personal work is by being Present in our lives. It’s by being aware of what is going on inside of us at all times that we can take the time to say: “Aha! This situation is triggering my anxiety. What can I do about it?”
Then you can direct your energies to changing the root cause of the anxiety; yourself.
Instead of blindly reacting to the triggers in your environment, wasting your emotional and creative energies, you can choose to respond to them proactively and creatively. You can change yourself to respond optimally to the reality that is!
Can you begin to see how empowering that is?
The biggest step is being Present. That’s what allows us to identify the work we need to do. That’s why meditation is immeasurably powerful, because it allows us to develop our Presence.
By being Present to our triggers we can choose to respond to them creatively. Instead of falling into the same conditioned patterns of behavior we can choose to create something new.
That’s how we go from anxiety to creativity.
How I Turn Anxiety (Fear) Into Creativity
I’ll give you an example of how I go about doing this.
I’m in a healthy, supportive relationship with a wonderful person, her name is Petra.
Like in any relationship, we have disagreements and even arguments sometimes. If you’ve ever gotten in an argument with someone, you know how people are prone to saying or doing things they wouldn’t do under regular circumstances. Arguments have a way of making us unconscious. They can be powerful triggers.
When I feel Petra and I are about to get into an argument I immediately increase my Presence. I do this by focusing on my breathing and my heart beat. Read this article to learn more about that.
A year ago, there was a month when Petra and I were getting into regular arguments. We had just moved to a new country and we were having adjustment pains. Things were happening in the relationship which I didn’t like, my personal boundaries were being crossed (they had to do with workaholism, by the way). So I would let Petra know about my displeasure.
The moment Petra and I would start talking about the issue I would dial up my Presence. I’d become conscious of my breathing and everything else I was feeling going on inside of me. This way I could identify when I was going to say something out of anger or spite, breathe through it and respond instead with something constructive.
Active Creation, Not Passive Victimization
Instead of saying “You need to do this” I would say “We need to do this.” Instead of accusing Petra I would assume my own responsibility in the relationship while making clear that she had her own responsibility. Instead of putting all the weight on Petra, I would assume my share of the responsibilities.
Instead of reacting I acted out of Presence, which allowed us to come to creative solutions rather than use our energy arguing.
The problems dissipated after that.
This way of approaching triggers isn’t confined to romantic relationships. We can approach ANY trigger this way. We can use triggers to learn through Presence.
Every time we choose to respond to a trigger creatively it loses its hold on us. Until our conditioned reactions vanish completely.
Triggers Are Life’s Teachers
We can either react to them in our tired, old, conditioned forms or we can remain Present and respond to them in new, creative ways. After all, If we want to experience something we’ve never experienced before we are going to have to make choices we’ve never made before.
That’s what it means to be an active creator of our lives. It means we’re the captains of our ships and we choose how to respond to the winds which come our way.
So what triggers you? Does the economic inequality in the world trigger you? Does racial injustice trigger you? Maybe it’s more concrete things, like the way your coworker bosses people around or the length of your morning commute. Our relationship with our parents can be a powerful trigger. Do your parents do/say things which get you to act unconsciously?
I invite you to reflect for a moment on the triggers in your life. You have the power to choose how to respond to your triggers. After all, you have free will.
The more power we reclaim from our environment the more powerful we become. Once we realize this is how life works our self-imposed limitations begin melting away. Revealing realms of possibility we never even knew existed.
Will you take the step?
To our wealth and success.