How do you know that?
Do you take action even when the butterflies in your stomach start fluttering or do you let fear dictate what you do or don’t do?
Do you find it difficult to step out of your comfort zone?
To be part of Adventure School you must be willing to be brave, to live on the edge of your comfort zone for a while until this lifestyle of balance becomes ‘normal’. To be on the edge of your comfort zone is to be at the conscious limit of your thinking – the boundary condition. It is where we do not know what we do not know.
Stepping out of the comfort zone can cause us fear and it does takes energy out of us to do this but if you stay in your comfort zone you will never be completely happy. You will be living small and may feel stuck, bored, directionless or passionless. Living below the line.
To go beyond the limits or boundaries of your comfort zone will let you start to see beyond what you know currently. When you start to see what you did not know previously you can start to create or participate in life where it is full of possibilities and opportunities.
Every outcome that we are getting at the moment is because we are in the comfort zone. When we reach the edge and then go beyond the comfort zone we can start to transform our lives into an area that goes past what we do not know. We can notice the possibilities that lie outside the comfort zone.
When you stay in the comfort zone you are playing the safe game and if you focus on the fear it will become magnified. You will not be able to overcome the fear until you do the thing you are fearful of. So, you need to look at your fears, acknowledge them and then go and do something about it.
Imagine you are planting a garden. If you are cultivating the garden you are focusing on the blooms and you get a nourishing garden. If you only focus on the weeds then you won’t get the nourishing garden. So, focus on planting something that is nurturing and sustaining for you, something worth growing.
When you do this, you are taking the steps to allay the fear because you have been addressing the fears by taking action. Courage will show up when you take action and each time you take action it becomes easier.
Think about putting stockings on. The first time you put them on they are uncomfortable, tight, you do not know how you are going to get them up into position, but you persist and it happens.
The second time you put on the stockings, they are a bit looser, you have a strategy, you know you have done it once, so you can do it again.
The third time you put the stockings on the bums stretched, they slide up super easy and you think ‘mmm maybe time for a new pair’, as they are now ‘comfortable’, in other words loose around the bum.
Doing anything for the first time is tough, however the second time does come easier, the third much easier and then you can start the process over and over again. This is what it is like stepping out of the comfort zone.
To move the boundary conditions of your thinking means to: become more self aware with your current thinking so you can then move to new situations; ask yourself different questions and stop focusing on the problem and more on the solution; understand that courage only shows up when you take action; and recognise that fear is normal.
I felt extremely stuck in my comfort zone for a long time, I could not take risks, I was fearful of so many things like talking in groups, being the centre of attention, actually doing stuff I really wanted to do but was too scared to put myself out there. Once I started though, it became addictive to step out of the comfort zone because that is where the adventure and fun is. When I feel that fluttering in the stomach, I now know that this is something to embrace, as it means something new or fun or exciting is on its way or happening.
Be gentle with yourself when you are learning. There is a reason you became comfortable in the comfort zone, it keeps us ‘safe’. However, if you stay in the comfort zone you will never experience growth, improvement or progress from where you are.
Why do we not want to step out of our comfort zone? Because people hate or fear change. In an ever-changing world where our relationships change, our jobs change, our technology changes, our friends change, our money changes, our world changes it is curious to see people hating change when we are surrounded by it.
Imagine four steps to change, going from clunky to superhighway. When you start something different you are clunky, you have to keep trying because you don’t know what you don’t know so you are paving a new lane. Then as you go along you are getting better and having to think less but are conscious of what you have to do so you now have a dual lane road. Once you keep going and put more hours in it becomes a four-lane highway with super speed. The last one is where you can just do the action without even thinking so there is great flow and speed.
If we recognise the patterns of how we filter in and filter out information it has a massive impact on how we deal with change. If we do not look at the patterns of our thinking we can become stuck, you may think ‘is this as good as it gets?’.
By identifying our thinking patterns, you can start to experience different realities.
You can also see that our thinking patterns that are not serving us were actually created when we were young or at school and whilst they served us then they may not be now.
School has stolen from us our sense of fun and learning together. It has made us conform, hide our unique selves and see life as serious. We lose our risk-taking skills, we want to keep safe because parents, teachers, media and society tells us everything is scary.
This is where the EGO and our mind comes into play.
The comfort zone is conditioning us to settle, to live within the comfort zone, to stop the discovery process, to stop trying new things and stops you from finding your passion. If you cannot discover your passion you can never really be truly happy.
When you are driving home from work each day, do you take the same route every time? You seem to be on autopilot, you do not have to think consciously about where you are going. Many of us have done this. Sometimes we scare ourselves by realising that you do not even remember what just happened or where you have been.
We have created a neural pathway within our minds that helps our brain filter out unnecessary information. You do not notice what is happening around you because you have travelled this path so often.
A neural pathway contains neurons which are nerve cells that transmit nerve signals to and from the brain. You create new neural pathways every time you experience something fresh and unusual from what you typically do. Our life has taught us that experiences do benefit us even if they are negative ones. The more new acts you perform and experience the more you learn and flourish.
When you create a new neural pathway and then not do anything new or different it will continue to serve you and keep you in the comfort zone but you will not grow. To create new neural pathways, you want to learn new things, try new experiences, think new thoughts. Creating the new pathways clears the old pathways and prevents us becoming inflexible and stale.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Look at your current thinking strategies.
There are four levels of thinking.
Level 1 and 2 are empowering levels and assist you in growing and you are meeting all your needs resourcefully and sustainably.
Level 2 is where you are creating new neural pathways and stepping out of the comfort zone. Once you have created that neural pathway it becomes Level 1. An example of living in Level 2 is where you learn a new skill, it is challenging at first but then you master it and you can dare to defy the status quo of your life. It then moves you to Level 1 where you are empowered and fulfilled with that skill.
Level 3 is where you are living in your comfort zone and you may feel safe and protected but after a while it no longer works for you, so you move to Level 4 and become unresourceful with a lack of motivation, burn out, depression and no sense of purpose. Level 3 and 4 can be addictions, living with a mask to hide who you are and so are draining on your physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual health.
We want to be brave and live in Level 1 and 2. Where you are learning and trying new things, seeing possibilities and opportunities and living in a healthy sustainable way.
Your inner critic or inner self-talk also affects how brave you are. I found that when I managed the voice I began to live a life out of the darkness. I learnt a technique that helped me get out of the pain of the negative self-talk, stopped beating myself up with my little voice inside and gain control of how I speak to myself.
Listen to the voice, disassociate from it, call it a name: gremlin, devil, pest, clown whatever you like and then talk to it. Thank it for caring and then advise it that you are still going ahead with what it is fearful of you doing. By talking to it you are removing the emotion around it and seeing it for what it is - a voice without reason.
If you reflect on this it will serve you to get out of your comfort zone and ensure you are living with balance, strength and happiness.
Put yourself into new environments, be spontaneous, say yes more often, volunteer to go first, if you feel you are picking the safe choice take a moment then take the riskier option, if taking a big step is too much take smaller steps, at least you are taking action.
Make learning fun. It may be clunky at first but it becomes second nature to step out.
Put the balance back into your life. Look at who you really are, what has been driving you, understand why you behave a certain way and start making new neural pathways.