How to get out of your comfort zone with optimal anxiety to reach your goals

Being comfortable is nice, but it doesn’t often produce much. We all need comfort sometimes, and that is not a bad thing. But when you are trying to accomplish your goals you should have what psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson called an optimal level of anxiety – that will push you towards and motivate you to take steps to accomplish your goals.

We’re all here (on this site) for spiritual growth right?

Well in my opinion spiritual growth does not look like some serene tropical vacation. It looks more like boot camp!

I’m not saying it can’t be enjoyable or have amazing and beautiful results – I’m just saying there is a price to pay for peeling back all those layers of ego and social conditioning and early childhood conditioning and traumatic experiences. 🙂

So I thought I would do this weeks Spirit and Science post about getting out of our comfort zones and the health and life benefits that come to those willing to take a chance.

Now I’m not talking push yourself to a point where you are way too anxious and can’t get anything done, or are depress if you don’t reach that goal sooner rather than later. The Yerkes Dodson Curve shows us that “arousal” (anxiety or alertness) is beneficial to performance only to a certain point. If the arousal gets too high performance takes a nose dive.

Having new experiences, meeting new people, traveling to new places or even taste new foods all sounds like good things right? Also spiritual growth often happens by facing previous trauma or challenging yourself physically through yoga and mindfulness meditation, or extreme experiences.

Only stepping out of your comfort zone can give you that growth you are seeking.

Panicucci (2007)

Experience has shown that learning occurs when people are in their stretch zone. Intellectual development and personal growth do not occur if there is no disequilibrium in a person’s current thinking or feeling. (p. 39)

Science has shown that the learning center of the brain is activated when people are engaging in pushing themselves or producing a minor amount of anxiety while completing the task or obstacle.

Intellectual gains, spiritual insight, and over all positive shifts in how we see the world are all things that science has indicated are benefits from getting out of your comfort zone. (article here)

So according to science how should we do this?

An optimal amount of anxiety is what we’re shooting for. Aim high enough with your new experience that you definitely feel like you are stretching yourself, but not so high you would ever think there is real danger that you can’t deal with involved.

Second, take picture. (Just kidding, but really – do take some for yourself and to prove to others that you did it!)

Next choose something that will have a positive effect on your life.

If you’ve always meditated at home, go to a meditation center. If you’ve meditated but never done yoga, try that and vice verse. If you eat a lot of meat see what it’s like to be a vegetarian for a while. If you have a hard time believing in a higher power (and you want that) pray to something out there and see how that feels.

It can really be anything that will empower you in your life, or cause you to grow.

Have fun with this and comment below if you have something to add! 🙂

Peace – Sara

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