by Leslie Sann

Fear is excitement without the breath.
~ Fritz Pearls

Anxiety and fear produce energy. Where we focus that energy noticeably affects the quality of our lives.
~ Walter Anderson ~

I am sitting in the family waiting area for surgical patients at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. My friend is in surgery. He is getting a new, updated model for his left hip joint. I must say I have lots of energy moving — also known as emotions — energy in motion. I have named this particular movement of energy ‘anxietment’. It’s a combo package, part anxiety — part excitement.

Depending where I place my focus I can feel scared about the possible risks of surgery — or I can get excited about the possible/probable outcome — complete recovery and restored function to the joint — and a partner with whom I can learn to dance the tango.

Clearly where I place my focus determines my experience in the moment. And since I’d rather win in my own fantasies, and the future is still undetermined, I’d rather place my focus on the best possible outcome. See me guided backwards along the dance floor, held firmly in my partner’s arms, surrendering to his lead.

Whenever we involve ourselves in a change process — we are vulnerable to the experience of anxietment. Change is a process of moving from where we are to where we want to be. That goal is outside our comfort zone, the zone of the familiar. To get there we must leave our comfort zone = discomfort.

Once we step outside our comfort zone the body begins to send us extra energy so that we can pay attention and be alert as we move forward into uncharted territory. This energy is neutral. It’s what we do with the energy that determines the experience we have. If I focus on the negative possibilities I will scare myself, contract my body, and limit my breathing. This is often experienced as anxiety or fear.

If on the other hand I begin to feel that energy moving and I focus on moving my body and keeping my breath full, while concentrating on a successful outcome, I will find myself excited.

I for one can move back and forth between the two, thus my familiarity with anxietment. Anxietment is a common occurrence when we have stepped outside our comfort zone. The best way to deal with it is to first of all recognize it, and name it. That in itself shifts it for me. Go ahead, say the word aloud. Its fun. I’m feeling anxietment. Shift again, take a breath, and say, I’m excited because ____ !

Now channel your excitement into actions that support the result you are wanting.

The doctor just checked in with me. The surgery was a success! I can hear the music playing. Tango anyone?


• Pay attention when you notice energy moving in your belly area. Often this is experienced as butterflies.
• See if you can track the movement to something that happened-or is going to happen.
• Ask yourself what meaning you are putting on the event — past or present.
• Notice if the meaning you put on the event is triggering contraction or expansion
• What can you do to shift? Can you change the meaning you associated with the occurrence? Can you shift you’re breathing into full belly breaths? Can you take a walk or dance around the living room?
• What do you want to occur? What is wild success for you?
• Remind yourself that success is a process and keep breathing and taking action until you reach your goal.

• Are you willing to feel your feelings fully so you can harness the energy that is moving through your body to serve your intended outcome?
• Are you willing to dance with your anxietment?
• Are you willing to have fun along the way?