big-girl-pantiesPutting on Your Big Girl Panties

Next week is a scary week for me. I have committed to three projects that take me way outside my comfort zone. All three of them are paralyzingly frightening.  I am really going to have to “psych” myself up for them. So, what scares you?

  • Giving a speech?

  • Socializing with strangers?

  • Passing a test?

  • Going on dates?

  • Making a big sale?

The list goes on and one. And if you’ve really taken the time to think about all the things you hate to do, well, it’s probably because those things are’t “comfortable” to you.

As terrifying as my tasks next week sound to me, I am going to “put my big girl panties” on and do them. And sometimes, that’s exactly the way we have to conquer life; by sucking it up and just “doing it.”  Here’s a way to move forward:

Connect with your inner voice

It is when we step outside the coziness of our familiar zone that we step into a growth zone. In order to move forward in our life we must grow. Stepping outside of the comfort zone, after all, is about taking risks.

The key is that we need to know how to modulate risks to stretch, but not break. We don’t want to take “foolish” (un-calculated) risks and must trust our instincts to know the difference between a growth zone and danger zone.


For example, for me, jumping out of an airplane would constitute a danger zone at this point in my life; it puts me at physical risk of injury for what for me represents too big of a risk. Pushing the edges between growth and danger is a fine art and one that is dictated by our inner voice.

Listen carefully to your voice before you calculate your choices. If you say no to something, why did you say no? What did your inner voice tell you? What is the real danger (I could break a bone jumping out of an airplane) vs. the perceived danger (I’m afraid of heights and don’t want to do it.)

Some Anxiety is Good

A psychological theory known as the Yerkes-Dodson Law proposed that “Anxiety improves performance until a certain optimum level of arousal has been reached. Beyond that point, performance deteriorates as higher levels of anxiety are attained.”

The take away from this is that we need a certain level of anxiety in order for us to function effectively. We are always taught that anxiety is a bad, negative thing. Well, according to this law that is accurate after an optimum level. Prior to that level anxiety is a good thing because it sharpens our senses and provides the tension for us to perform at our best.

Looking at the Yerkes-Dodson graph it shows that as our anxiety rises, our performance gets better – up to a point.

Stress curveSo in order to step out of the comfort zone into the growth zone we should embrace our anxiety and recognize the benefit of it. In other words, when there is no actual risk, feeling a little anxious over taking a test, or having a job interview is a good thing. It is healthy to have a little rush of adrenaline at times.

Don’t over think it

Remember when you were little and took the first jump at the edge of the pool. You had to just close your eyes and jump. Stepping outside the comfort zone is about letting go and trusting yourself enough do what needs to get done.

Pulling on your “big girl panties” is about acknowledging that you need to get something  that feels scary done, but are sucking it up and moving forward despite your anxiety.

a giant leapThe more you think about how scary it is to accomplish something – starting a business, quitting a job, changing careers, etc. – the more you give yourself a chance to back out of it. Sometimes you just have to close your eyes, grit your teeth, and do it.

Reward yourself for being willing to take the risk

Reinforcing ourselves for our courage is important. That feeling of “WooHoo, I did it” is also worthy of celebration. And don’t just think of the big things. Sometimes, small victories deserve a polite nod, too.

Eleanor Roosevelt said,  “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Ok, Eleanor, I am with you. I will do that today and tomorrow, too. Will you join me? What takes you out of your comfort zone? Have you had to” wear big girl panties”  lately?

Project111-150x150Dr. Ines K. Roe has been helping women in transition rediscover themselves for over 20 years. If you’ve  been feeling unfulfilled, are frustrated with your sense of accomplishment in midlife, or simply need guidance on your path to holistic well being, join her ecourse.