When was the last time you bombed out of something just because it felt, well, more comfortable not to do it?
Like most of us, I’ve had to face that invisible boundary called the comfort zone on numerous occasions.
“More often than not, being brave means doing it scared.” Michael Hyatt
Many years ago I was barely surviving a lot of high drama associated with a very unpleasant divorce. Unfolding, as it did, over a long two year period, far from my supportive family the other side of the world, I sometimes thought that I would go under from the strain.
Fortunately my strong maternal instincts and resilience kept me afloat. But something else too. An extraordinary challenge from a friend!
Just when I needed it most, this particular friend unknowingly helped push me into a place of even more life affirming strength. Little did I know that it would totally reconfirm my confidence in myself.
And so I found myself, very early one morning, pumped almost to bursting point with exhilaration.
” – because sometimes it takes a shark attack to kickstart your motor.”
I had just been cage diving with three great white sharks!
That’s right. I had just been lowered in a small (somewhat flimsy) cage off the side of a boat into icy South African waters. Home to these most fearsome of creatures.
If you’ve ever had a shark glide past you at arms length, you’ll surely know the utter terror and awe. Glistening teeth, glazed eyes, monstruous size, scarred rubbery exterior and all. Surely one of Mother Nature’s most formidable powerhouses.
Now if that isn’t stepping out of your comfort zone, I don’t know what is?!
Of course, I am here. I survived to tell the tale. And many others. But I will never forget that particular day. Ever.
Looking back I realise that it made me feel pretty invincible. And strong. And brave beyond belief. Certainly more than capable of surviving the ‘land sharks’ I was dealing with at the time.
“This is the true retrospective wonder of stepping out of our familiar behaviours – we learn so much about ourselves. And GROW!” Sarah Virag
How about these everyday examples of things that unsettle us;
Mastering new skills?
Meeting new people?
Uprooting to new places?
Facing our fears?
In short? Falsely believing that we can’t do things.
New or slightly uncomfortable situations and experiences can really shake our confidence. They make us feel vulnerable and exposed to failure, criticism or possible ridicule if we can’t follow through.
Comfort zone boundaries are different for different people. But can you recognise one of your own in these common scenarios, I wonder?
The terror of public speaking, or facing a room full of strangers?
The embarrassment of being asked to perform anything infront of others?
Being asked to do something completely foreign to us at very short notice?
Being able to constructively criticise a friend or colleague’s work or input to a project?
Cringe making – or just plain tough? These are all examples of self imposed, restrictive boundaries.
We are born – apparently – with only two universal fears; the fear of falling, and the fear of loud noises. Everything else comes from you. You create these powerful boundaries in your own mind!
So how can you break through anxiety or limiting beliefs to maximise the huge potential beyond the comfort zone? Here are 6 useful steps to always bear in mind:
Recognise Your Fear
This is good. Acknowledge exactly what it is that’s holding you back. Is it dangerous? Risky? Sometimes however, the only thing that separates those who succeed from those who fail is the ability to push through perceived fear.
Acknowledge The Value
Growth, solutions and huge satisfaction can all come from the other side of the comfort zone. But only if you’re brave enough to push through the invisible barrier in the first place.
Don’t Overthink It
I went cage diving with sharks at 24 hours’ notice. Sometimes we learn the best life lessons of all when we jump into something knowingly – and work it out from there. To feel the fear and do it anyway – as Susan Jeffers tells us in her best selling book of the same name.
This doesn’t mean we need to be foolhardy or take unnecessary risks, of course.
Give It Your Best Shot
Once you’ve decided to push through those limiting barriers, give it all you’ve got! Whether you win or whether the lesson wasn’t, perhaps, such a great one this time – you will always take something away from the experience.
Celebrate What You Just Did
Congratulations! Every single time you do something out of the ordinary – for you – you expand your personal horizons. Acknowledge what you just did and be proud of yourself.
Take Time To Reflect
When you do something alien, something new and exhilarating, or even something new and terrifying – you must always stop and reflect afterwards. Would you do it differently next time? What did you learn from the experience that will help you with your next challenge?
If you want to make the most of your life – to do significant things – then you will have to push beyond the comfort zone over and over again. It’s really worth trying to make the most of it!
What was the last thing you did that really challenged you? How did you feel afterwards? Can you recall doing something so out of the ordinary that it completely changed your perspective?
Originally published at www.sarah-virag.com