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Go from overwhelmed to confident

Congratulations! You just got a new role or a major new responsibility!


Alongside your excitement and anticipation is another feeling that's not quite as positive. Maybe it's a tinge of fear, dread, anxiety, confusion, or overwhelm. All the new expectations, unknowns, and uncertainty have your imposter syndrome and inner voice chirping loudly. Are you ready for this? Can you be successful? Do you have what it takes? What even will it take?


Does this sound at all familiar?


findings from neuroscience, psychology, and related fields, show how overwhelming experiences can lead to positive outcomes such as enhanced learning, creativity, motivation, and resilience

Those conflicting emotions are a normal byproduct when there's uncertainty swirling around you. And while feeling overwhelmed by new experiences may not feel great in the moment, embracing the discomfort of the experience can bring surprising benefits and positive outcomes. Let's learn why!


Data-driven reasons why being overwhelmed by new experiences isn't negative:

  • Enhanced learning and growth: Psychological research suggests that being overwhelmed by new experiences can lead to enhanced learning and personal growth because when you're exposed to novel and challenging situations, your brain is stimulated to adapt and develop new neural connections. This process is neuroplasticity and it allows you to expand your skills, knowledge, and capabilities. These studies have shown that facing overwhelming experiences can promote cognitive flexibility, allowing you to switch between different tasks or problem-solving strategies more effectively, contributing to your personal development and resilience.

  • Increased Creativity: Overwhelming experiences can also fuel creativity and innovation. Research suggests that exposure to unfamiliar or complex stimuli can trigger divergent thinking and creative problem-solving strategies because when you're pushed outside your comfort zone, you are more likely to explore alternative perspectives and unconventional solutions. This can lead to emergent insights and creative breakthroughs that may not have emerged in more familiar or routine environments.

  • Heightened Motivation and Engagement: Experiencing overwhelm can serve as a powerful motivator for you to engage more deeply with your surroundings and activities. Psychologists have found that moderate levels of stress and challenge can increase motivation and focus, leading to improved performance and productivity. When you are confronted with new experiences that stretch your abilities, you are more likely to invest effort and energy into mastering the task at hand, which in turn can lead to higher satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.

  • Fostering Resilience: Overwhelming experiences can also contribute to the development of resilience and coping skills. Research suggests that people who successfully navigate challenging situations tend to build greater resilience over time because by confronting and overcoming adversity, you learn to adapt to change, regulate your emotions, and develop effective coping mechanisms. These resilience-building experiences can provide valuable lessons and resources that you can draw upon in the future during times of stress and uncertainty.

  • Expanding Comfort Zones: Feeling overwhelmed by new experiences can push you to expand your comfort zone and embrace unfamiliar territory. While discomfort and uncertainty may initially be unsettling, they also offer opportunities for personal growth and exploration. Research in psychology suggests that stepping outside your comfort zone is essential for building confidence, expanding skills, and discovering new interests and passions. Over time, you may become more accustomed to navigating novel experiences, leading to increased self-efficacy and a broader range of opportunities.

These findings from neuroscience, psychology, and related fields, show how overwhelming experiences can lead to positive outcomes such as enhanced learning, creativity, motivation, and resilience. While feeling overwhelmed by new experiences may initially be challenging, it opens the door for personal growth. By reframing overwhelm as an opportunity for development and discovery, you can harness its potential to thrive in the face of uncertainty and change.


If you're interested in having a coach by your side to help you navigate this journey, reach out today for a complimentary consultation.



References:


  • Bandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy. In V. S. Ramachaudran (Ed.), Encyclopedia of human behavior (Vol. 4, pp. 71-81). Academic Press.

  • Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. Harper & Row.

  • De Dreu, C. K., Baas, M., & Nijstad, B. A. (2008). Hedonic tone and activation level in the mood-creativity link: Toward a dual pathway to creativity model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94(5), 739–756.

  • Diamond, A. (2013). Executive functions. Annual Review of Psychology, 64, 135–168.

  • Draganski, B., Gaser, C., Busch, V., Schuierer, G., Bogdahn, U., & May, A. (2004). Changes in grey matter induced by training. Nature, 427(6972), 311–312.

  • Festinger, L. (1957). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford University Press.

  • Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Prentice-Hall.

  • Meichenbaum, D. (1985). Stress inoculation training. Pergamon Press.

  • Tedeschi, R. G., & Calhoun, L. G. (2004). Posttraumatic growth: Conceptual foundations and empirical evidence. Psychological Inquiry, 15(1), 1–18.

  • Yerkes, R. M., & Dodson, J. D. (1908). The relation of strength of stimulus to rapidity of habit-formation. Journal of Comparative Neurology and Psychology, 18(5), 459–482.

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