• The research cited in this video is “Get excited: Reappraising pre-performance anxiety as excitement,” which appeared in the June 2014 edition of The Journal of Experimental Psychology. You can find the complete paper here.

35 Responses to “Pinkcast 2.18: This is how (not) to calm your nerves”

  1. Mark says:

    Great observation, right in line with the story of Carly Simon and Bruce Springsteen. Both describe similar symptoms before going on stage – racing heart, sweating palms, shallow breathing. Carly Simon viewed them as sure signs she would fail. Bruce views them as signs he’s ready and going to have a great show.

    Only trick is recognizing your self-doubt talk and turning it around. Not “nervous,” but “excited.” Not “stressed,” but “challenged”…

  2. Andy Kaufman says:

    Totally agree with this technique–use it regularly. Interestingly, it’s easy enough to understand that the Kaufman kids have learned to use it too! If you get nervous meeting Sister Jean at Loyola today, I’ll know how you masterfully remained Dan Pink confident! 🙂

  3. Angela says:

    Hi Dan

    Love it!

    Another re-frame possibility assuming nerves and excitement are two sides of the same coin … Nervousness = excitement – breathing


    Have a great day

  4. Cleo Parker says:

    I love to do some things that a lot of people find nerve wracking – like public speaking and showing my dogs in conformation (yes, like those crazy people in the movie Best in Show) and I do feel excited before I go “on” – but for some situations, like the interview I’ve got in a couple of hours, I think of myself as anxious. I’ll take your advice and approach it with the same attitude as when I’m going on stage or in the ring!

  5. Good one even every day morning before we enter our work we can say I am excited about today and it is going to be great. Reappraisal is a good technique for sure.

  6. Linda Brandt says:

    Thanks for your smart leadership in these Pinkcasts and beyond. I love how you are making good and powerful information accessible to a much larger audience. We need as many public intellectuals like yourself and those you champion to spread their influence. Lead on!

  7. Georgia says:

    Great podcast, great articles…you are succinct, get to the bottom line within seconds, research based…I can go on and go. Keep up the good work. Five ⭐️’s

  8. David Antol says:

    Dan, great topic! I give a lot of presentation and teach college courses and have found this to be true. I am not smart enough to know what I was doing, so thanks for the research! When I train trainers, I will share this tidbit with them.

  9. Perfect timing! I will use this to prepare for my facilitation on Thursday…thanks, Dan for the generosity of your (and other’s) wisdom!

  10. Dorothea Rae says:

    Thanks! Will use this with my life coaching class today. Feel the same way when it comes to worry…change that energy into meditation.

  11. Haley Simons says:

    Testing this out today! Have shortened my mental note to “Think Pink!”
    Will keep you posted.

  12. Be excited that you’re nervous. It means that you’re stretching yourself in some way that will grow your zone of comfort. People always admire positive intensity.

  13. Teresa Palm says:

    Loved it!

    Greetings from Guadalajara, Mexico…the land of tequila.


  14. Bill Yeadon says:

    Whether you are at the plate with 2 outs and the tying run on second, or getting ready to present, it is all energy. You determine how to use it.

  15. Josh Jarrett says:

    Great advice. Here’s how it was told to me: “What’s the difference between fear and excitement? Excitement is just optimistic fear.” If you think the outcome is likely to be positive, it gives you a path to reframe that nervous energy toward excitement.

  16. Joe Biondi says:

    After some 28 years on the air in radio, on camera in TV commercials, or on stage with a band I realized that not having a little anxiety was a problem. I would always feel some butterflies even after soo many gigs, and that’s a good thing. Amp it up a bit, control it, channel it, give it away, and magic happens.

  17. Dan,
    You are right about the fact that it sounds simplistic but it’s a powerful technique. I use it all the time. I started to use it after I realized that I couldn’t hide my nervousness before my conference and when organizers and participants would say: you look nervous; I was fumbling in excuses. I decided to tune it up and say that I am so super excited and that I’m sorry for my enthusiasm but… I’m really excited. Did it again, last evening, for a conference and got the audience as excited as I was. Now I’m thriving on the “excitement” high!
    Thanks Dan, keep the good work !

  18. Carol Ross says:

    Thanks, Dan, for this timely message. I’m meeting today to collect on an invoice that is way past due–and the person I need to collect from has been known to be a bully. So instead of saying I’m nervous, I will say I’m excited–to stand in my power!

  19. I’ve been using this for years with new musicians who are nervous about performing, after seeing how well it worked on myself 15 years ago. It’s simple, and it works.

  20. Alex Mustafa says:

    I discovered the same thing for myself by accident when I realized that it was my excitement about sharing a presentation topic, and not really being anxious, that was pumping up my adrenaline. I also realized that while was speaking, I wasn’t breathing properly which was also pumping up my adrenaline even further. Still working on that one. LOL

  21. William says:

    Fabulous advice! Our perception becomes our reality.

  22. Ellyn says:

    It was your explanation of why this works that made this so useful for me, Dan. That shifting from a high arousal state (anxiety) to a low arousal state (calm) is hard, but reframing anxiety as excitement is easier because they feel very similar. Thanks for your skill in translating research into relatable bites.

  23. Gina Brooks says:

    Our family uses our own word “nervcited” to describe that feeling where you’re anxious but excited about the opportunity. It’s expressed positively and definitely works for us

  24. Gina Brooks says:

    Our family uses our own word “nervcited” to describe this feeling. It’s expressed positively and definitely works for us

  25. Julie Kelly says:

    I like to consider anxiety or nervousness as my body’s energy rearranging itself to suit the circumstances, which helps me accept it as a more normal feeling. I like the idea of reframing it as excitement. Always so much practical help from the Pinkcasts. Thank you! ?

  26. David Week says:

    I watched a documentary about the great spoken word artist Henry Rollins.

    Henry is backstage and starts heading towards the stage. He start out walking, then he starts trotting.

    As he trots, he turns to the camera and says: “You’ll see I’m speeding up. That’s because I’m terrified, and this reduces the amount of time I’m terrified before I hit the stage.”

  27. Greig Ward says:

    Brilliant advice for those that aren’t sure on how to ‘channel’ this nervous excitement. Thanks Dan.

  28. David Schultz says:

    I started using a similar technique some time ago purely by intuition, only mine is more physiological than mental. I’d be going to an appointment feeling nervous, so I’d jump a few times on the spot on the sidewalk. This tiny amount of physical activity changed my mood immediately!

    I now do it all the time; I’ll also jump or jog for a few seconds if I feel like my energy is too low when going somewhere (but as Dan says, it’s easier to redirect your energy than try to change your energy level).

  29. WaltC says:

    Wow. This simple truth may be a game changer. The applications appear to be broad with this one. “Change your attitude, change your life.” Thanks Dan!

  30. Laura McLeod says:

    I love this – keep the excitement, but detach from the perceived threat. I teach undergrad sales students and have added this to my long list of (unsolicited) advice that I give them.

  31. Hi Dan

    Take a trip down memory lane in the world of sport psychology and you’ll see some great references to this same idea in some classic text books and research papers.

    If you haven’t read Michael Apter’s work on Reversal Theory, then I’d highly recommend it as it’s a great model that describes the exact process you’ve identified in this video. Apter’s work dates from the mid 1970’s and has a huge amount of work investigating it’s usefulness.

    Hope that’s useful.

  32. Larry P says:

    As psychology professor who also does health, career and personal coaching who helps people often deal with the stress response, I like this suggestion. I will try it with some clients and let you know how it goes. Thanks.

  33. Rob Robson says:

    For a fuller explanation of the link between anxiety and excitement (and indeed calm, sullenness) search for Reversal Theory (Michale Apter, circa 1982 and later).

  34. Rob Robson says:

    I’d also add that it is not inherently “better” to be excited than calm, excitement to calm is a continuum rather than a switch, and can be achieved fairly quickly with practice (which reframing also takes). You wouldn’t want to be disarming a bomb in a state of excitement. So, yes, it is a simplistic view (as well as not being original), though it can work.

  35. Dan,
    Thanks for all the PinkCast Videos. Great resouce for calibration and course corrections.
    I have been doing public seminar,presentations over last 6 years. I always feel I am excited to take it and bring it on feeling. Good you emphasise that.

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