Anxiety vs. Boredom

Anxiety occurs when we believe life’s challenges exceed our skill level. Moving from the contentment zone to the anxiety zone happens when we feel insufficiently prepared to meet complex, difficult, or challenging demands. We feel overwhelmed with stress when we tackle new tasks: learning to ride a bike or drive a car, go on dates, start a new job, get married, cope with irritating people, give a public speech, or handle any difficult situation.

There are two ways to get out of the Anxiety Zone: decrease the challenges OR increase your skills. Moving from the anxiety zone to the contentment zone involves learning whatever is necessary to meet that challenge.

The interesting thing about this plan is that the process of learning those necessary skills is a cause of much happiness. There is something very satisfying about facing and successfully meeting a difficult challenge. Didn’t you feel great the first time you reached a goal? What a sense of accomplishment when you learned how to ski or skateboard, fix a flat tire, beat a video game, learn a new job!

Being stuck in the Anxiety Zone is no fun. One way to reduce anxiety is to reduce the number of challenges we face: quit the job, leave school, run away, leave the relationship. This is why being a couch potato is so appealing—no complexity, no demands, no challenge! But who wants to waste a perfectly good brain and body?

Welcome challenging demands with a determination to learn the skills necessary to live life to the max. What new thinking, relational, physical, communication or emotional skills do you need to develop? The human brain is wired to learn, develop, grow, and help your body know how to meet the challenges of life at home, work, school, neighborhoods! Anxiety can be overcome. You can do it!

We’ll talk about boredom next post.

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