Going From Anxious to Curious In 8-Minutes


I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious” -Albert Einstein.

Output: Reduce anxiety in the workplace

Input: When anxious feelings arise, take 8-minutes to replace anxiety with curiosity

What happens when your competence is called into question? Maybe your CEO totally derails your meeting on or maybe a key customer is being unresponsive. As adults, our first instinct is to become anxious.

Anxiety isn’t fear. Fear is right in front of us and presents objective danger. Anxiety is that feeling we get when we feel ourselves losing control of a situation. Maybe we realize our go-to market strategy just isn’t working. It’s when we start thinking, “what is the rightanswer” “how do I make this work now”. The amygdala floods our system with norephinephrine and cortisol, making us feel nervous and stressed, and automatically enters us into flight or fight mode. That’s when our brain transforms into an anxious state.

The natural reaction when we are in ‘anxious brain mode’ is to become defensive, judgemental, quick to blame others, and inflexible. It also forces us to be hyper-rational, losing all sense of creativity. Obviously this is counterproductive to success, particularly when we’re trying to think of a solution to what is causing our anxiety. So, how can we flip the switch? By approaching the situation differently, we can go from ‘anxious brain mode’ to ‘curious brain mode’.

The curious brain looks at situations from a different angle. Curiosity fuels creativity, questioning, and innovation. It’s when we’re able to be exploratory, open, and flexible. When we are in ‘curious brain mode’ their brain releases high amounts of dopamine that fuels motivation and positivity. Moreover, it shifts the mindset to a journey of discovery versus finding the right answer right now.

When you feel yourself resorting to anxious brain mode, take the following steps to get yourself into learner mode, or curious brain. Have a timer ready and don’t end any of these exercises earlyUse the full 8 minutes.:

  • 1 minute - opening breath exercises - Lower your gaze or close your eyes and inhale on a count of 4, hold for 2, and exhale on a count of 4. Feel yourself calm down.
  • 4 minutes - question storming - Write down every question that you can think of relating to your situation. There are no dumb questions. You must use the full time to think and write. Don’t do anything else but ask questions and write them down.
  • 2 minutes - future state - Write down what you’re trying to achieve. What is your mission, your vision and indicators for success? Take the full 2 minutes to write everything down.
  • 1 minute - closing breath exercise - Lower your gaze or close your eyes and inhale on a count of 4, hold for 2, and exhale on a count of 4. Feel yourself reset and ready to unleash your curious brain!