I came to the realization recently that I can do more than I thought I could. I can push myself and I can enjoy more of life than I have. I no longer need to live in a place of fear. That is right – I realized that my fear was hindering my enjoyment of life.
As many of you know I began to experience episodes of severe facial pain over 10 years ago. When I experience these episodes I could not talk or move my lips without causing severe pain. I have experienced periods of remission and fortunately over the years I experience fewer and fewer episodes which is not the norm with the condition. The one thing though that has stayed with me is the fear of another episode. Over the years I tried to isolate what could possibly be causing the pain. I knew I had things that would trigger the pain such as strain on my shoulders from lifting something too heavy or the wrong way. I reduced my extracurricular activities to almost nothing, trying to reduce stress levels. I stopped doing anything that would put strain on my shoulders. Once I had things under relative control I began to slowly add things back into my life and routine. I added things in one at a time so I could better identify if the activity gave me indications of the potential for another episode. I was grateful for for everything I could introduce back into my live. I recently realized however that when I had reached a certain level of comfort and contentment I parked my life and have not moved outside of that comfort zone. It took me until this past year to really put the gear back into drive. I realized that life is worth living as fully as I can and I needed to get back in that driver’s seat.
This past year I have pushed myself more and reached out past this zone of comfort. I tried yoga class. The first session I tried was too intense and so I found a therapeutic yoga class that has been very beneficial. It has enhanced my ability to listen to my body and to make the necessary adjustments to alleviate the risk of an episode. With this increased awareness of how to care for my self I tried canoeing and kayaking with no pain. I enjoyed the day in nature with my friends. I recently went cross-country skiing for the first time in years. It was fantastic to be able to enjoy this winter activity again. Each time I pushed myself a little further I realized that I had been holding myself back. I was maybe too comfortable in my comfort zone and my fear was holding me there.
Our comfort zone is a space where we have been able to minimize stress and risk. Our routine patterns of behaviour and our activities feel comfortable to us which makes us feel content and happy. The problem is that we may get a little too comfortable like I did. We should want to move forward and there are benefits from doing so.
Science has shown that we reach a state of maximum performance when our stress levels are slightly higher than normal. Not abnormally high but slightly higher. Going too extreme will result in excessive stress which reduces productivity, performance and overall happiness. This space we want to get to is just outside our comfort zone where we are able to reach the peak of mental performance and productivity. The benefit of moving out is that we become more productive. Changes and interruptions to our routines become easier to manage because we get less anxious about the change. We are more familiar with dealing with uncertainty and can make better decisions.
New experiences, opens our minds to seek more, to learn more and to be more creative.
Here are a few little hints to help you move out of that place of comfort.
Change the way you do routing things.
- Take the dog for a walk around the block in the opposite direction to the way you usually go. (you may find that your dog gives you a quizzical look. Remember that this is a change for the dog too and he/she and may also demonstrate a bit of anxiousness as they too are making a step outside of that zone of comfort.)
- Listen to a different radio station.
- Dress up a little more than you normally would.
- Wear more funky jewelry.
- Park your car at the end of the parking lot instead of the spot closest to the door.
- Try new foods. Even just a taste. My husband recently tried brussel sprouts after mean mouthing them for years. Although he didn’t care for them, he found that they were not as bad as he thought they were.
Soon you will realize that you can stretch the boundaries of that comfort zone. Notice how it makes you feel in the moment. How do you feel later? Did it feel good? Was it really uncomfortable or maybe just a little at the start.
Be a little more impulsive.
- Do something impulsive like accepting an invitation to go out with friends even if it means going to bed later that night.
Often times our first reaction is to jump at the opportunity but then our logical minds kick in and start to go through the list of pros and cons and we can eventually get buried in the logic. Sometimes we just need to go with our gut reaction and make a snap decision. Trust your gut. It is your intuition talking.
- Make a goal or accept to do something that pushes you a little. Start small so you don’t get too anxious and so you can attain your goal. Gradually work up to things that stretch your comfort level more.
- Take an inventory of how you feel.
- What benefits would you attain?
- Are you apprehensive? What fears, feelings or thoughts are holding you back?
- Have you ever experienced these fears and feelings before? What happened?
- If things did not go as planned is there something that you could have done differently that would have had a better outcome. Don’t beat yourself up but evaluate with a non-judgemental eye. Ex. Arriving late made me more anxious because I didn’t want to walk in after the talk had started and have everyone look at me. Upon re-evaluation you might consider leaving 20 minutes earlier to avoid any risk of being late.
You can always go back to your comfort zone when and if needed. Gaining the confidence to move out of it comes with practice and I am finding that it is get easier each time I try. There may be flops along the way but they will likely be small in comparison to the benefits you will gain.
If you are trained in Reiki try doing a Gasho meditation to help you get grounded and ready to accept the challenge. Place your hands on yourself and give Reiki. Visualize and try to feel what it will be like when you have attained your goal. If you have second degree Reiki you can also send Reiki to the situation along with the visualization and sensory focus.
When we stretch ourselves a little and go beyond what is comfortable it is possible to “enjoy the ride” and see some wonderful new scenery along the way. Just take a chance and see what happens. Live Life and Enjoy!