I’m not talking clinical-level anxiety here. I’m talking about everyday fears and discomforts that we experience due to our relationship with uncertainty.

We come across situations that make us feel uncomfortable every day.

Consider the scenario of a networking event. Potentially there are a hundred (or more) people in the room we don’t know. When we walk into the room, we experience an uncertainty around who we should talk to. There may be some mild social anxiety about whether we should even be there or if we belong.

At this point, our focus is on ourselves.

If we apply a healthy dose of curiosity about the situation, then we might ask questions like:

  • Who are they?
  • I wonder what industries they are in?
  • Where did they get those shoes and suit?
  • What are their backstories?
  • Are they nervous too?

And now our focus is on others and our anxiety about our status dissipates.

Now, consider this scenario. You have been promoted to a new role at work. We are experiencing some anxiety about meeting expectations and doing a good job. Again, at this point, our focus is on ourselves, and we may ask ourselves, “Am I good enough?”

If we shift to a curious focus again, we may now ask questions like:

  • Who is in my team?
  • What are their strengths?
  • What are the current market conditions?
  • What successes has the team had recently?
  • What are their primary concerns?

Now our focus is on others, and our anxiety about our performance reduces.

If you’re feeling anxious about a situation, shift your focus, apply some curiosity, and you may find that you forget about your discomfort.