Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Gulp.
We all know the feeling: heart pounding, stomach in knots, tightness in the throat.
Anxiety with a capital A.
If you’re someone who does not suffer from an anxiety disorder, the triggers of generalized anxiety can be just about anything. Sending an important email. Having a conversation with your boss. Making a big ask.
On the surface these seem like different situations, but the throughline can be summed up as Fear of the Unknown.
Take a moment and imagine:
Would that email you’ve been putting off seem so scary if you knew the outcome would be positive?
Would you take that leap and leave your ‘survival job’ if you knew it would all go well?Would you procrastinate raising money for your film if you knew the answer was going to be “yes”?
On the flip side, what’s the absolute *worst* that could happen in each of these scenarios?
Use that amazing, creative imagination of yours!
Next time something’s giving you anxiety, really give yourself the time to imagine and explore the potential outcomes – both positive and negative – of whatever that situation is.
Play out every possible scenario to the end. Go there and then ask yourself:
“And then what?”
“And then what?”
“And then what?”
When you’ve reached the end of the line, you’ll probably be staring at something I call your “Big Scary.” For many of us, including me, it’s hidden. It’s the monster in your closet or under your bed. The one you’re waiting to jump out and go BOO!
And if monsters under the bed have taught us anything, it’s that shining a light on them takes a whole lot of their power away. Facing them (and seeing they aren’t even real in many cases) is where you get your power.
There’s something else to know about the “Big Scary.”
Sometimes, it can be something positive! I know! We creatives looooooove to get frightened off by the success we say we want.
Ooof! I know!
You may be saying to yourself, “Well, okay. Now what?”
Here are three actions you can take to address your “Big Scary” head on:
You can repeat these activities regularly as well as any time the “Big Scary” reveals itself.
Our goal here is to lessen and recontextualize the anxiety you’re feeling to propel you toward taking action.
And if you’re still feeling some stress around whatever it is you need to do, that’s okay, too! That’s just a reminder that you’re emotionally invested in the action you’re taking.
What this shouldn’t do, however, is keep you from taking action altogether. Stay committed to your goal, but release any attachment you may be feeling around the outcome.
Chances are this isn’t the only email you’ll ever send, conversation you’ll ever have with your boss, or big ask you’ll ever make. But the more you do these things, the more comfortable you’ll get with them, which increases your certainty and lessens that fear of the unknown.
Until you get to that point, we’re asking you to, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” You’ll only get where you want to go by taking action to get there.
If you feel comfortable sharing, let us know what your “Big Scaries” are! Did they feel less scary when you said them out loud? What’s possible for you if you’re more certain of the outcome?
Joanna Bowzer is a growth marketing and audience development strategist as well as a film and content producer. She is a founder of Film Launch, which supports content entrepreneurs in developing and launching their projects. Her Vision.Position.Expand. 12-week career + project accelerator helps actors, writers, and filmmakers bolster their mindset, develop their brand, and create their vision and plans for the next decade.