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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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Tuesday
Oct012019

5 Ideas That Will Expand Your Comfort Zone and Possibilities

When we try new things, neural pathways and connections are created in the brain. Last week, I wrote about the “expanding my universe” journey. As you may recall, I’m trying some new activities. The purpose of this adventure is to create an environment for inspiring possibilities to surface that I might not have considered or noticed.

As I collected ideas for possible activities to pursue, I organized them into seven categories, including creative, education, event, excursion, mind/body, nature, and not my comfort zone. Some sections, like education, had many ideas. Not my comfort zone, though, had only one, which I opted to try this past week.

  


“And it’s in practicing discovery, we feed our ability to create and soulfulness in our lives.” 

- Rohnan Gunatillake

 

When thinking about engaging in something outside of my comfort zone, jumping out of an airplane, eating raw fish, and being submerged in a sensory deprivation tank came to mind. However, those didn’t make it onto my list because frankly right now, they are too far beyond what I’d consider. Instead, I chose to do something outside my zone that merged stretching with reality.

I went to Spins Hudson, an indoor and outdoor rope climbing activity course with my friend, Joanne. Wearing a harness, while clipped to a wire high above the ground, I walked and balanced over a variety of oddly shaped, narrow, and super-wobbly paths. This was a big stretch for me that required focus, faith, endurance, and letting go of fear and negative messages. While the elevated path crossings were physically and emotionally challenging, perhaps my bravest moment was when I took a backward jump to the ground from a 43-foot tall platform with my harness attached to a single rope. Talk about a leap of faith! Literally, that was one.

In doing and engaging in life, there is learning. There is a possibility for expansion and understanding. From my rope course experience, I had several takeaways that I hope you’ll find useful.

 

 

5 Ideas to Expand Your Comfort Zone and Possibilities . . . 

 

1. Respect Your Zone

Know where your line is and find ways to push your limits periodically. What is outside the zone for me might be well within your comfort zone. When I described my rope course experience to one of my friends, she thought it sounded like pure fun and something she’d do without any hesitation or fear. However, she said that speaking in front of a big audience, which is enervating for me, is frightening and entirely outside of her comfort zone. 

 

2. Reframe Your Fear

When I was waiting to begin the rope course, one of the things I quickly noticed was how many negative thoughts were racing through my head. Phrases like,

  • “You’re not strong enough.”
  • “You’re not brave enough.”
  • “Maybe this wasn’t such a smart idea, Linda.”
  • “I don’t understand the instructions for hooking and unhooking the clips. I’ll never get this.”
  • “What if the clips unfasten?”
  • “What if my hands slip?”
  •  “What if I fall?”
  • “What if _ ?”

I understood that these thoughts weren’t helping me, so I worked on reframing them with more positive messages like,

  • “Breathe.”
  • “I can do this.”
  • “Use my adrenaline and heart-pounding to move forward.”
  • “Take one step. Balance. Take the next step. Keep going.”
  • “Stay in the moment instead of analyzing it.”
  •  “Wow! I crossed my first path!”
  • “I am strong.”
  • “I am walking across my comfort zone.”

 

3. Understand Your Ground

Doing the rope course made me realize my tendency to gravitate towards safety, security, and that feeling of my feet planted firmly on the ground. But life isn’t always that way. Walking across the wobbling paths, I was indeed on shaky ground. Uncertainty abounded. Would I make it across without falling? Would my grip give way? Every step forward was unsteady. Only stillness settled the movement. But as soon as I shifted even a minuscule amount, the path would move. When I walked from the indoor to outside course, my feet were firmly on the ground. Despite that, my legs felt shaky, my heart was pounding, and the adrenaline was coursing through my body. These sensations felt like the physical manifestations about the uncertainty in life, in embracing change, and in challenging our limits. At the same time, I derived comfort in discovering that we can find our way forward even when the path wobbles. 

 

4. Appreciate the Pangs

The rope course had me engage muscles in a way that I don’t usually do. It’s been several days since going on the course. When I move in a certain way, I feel a slight ache in my upper arms or wrist. It’s nothing terrible, but just a reminder that I used different muscles in my body. Those pangs are small reminders that I was open to testing the possibilities. I was willing to strengthen and exercise the getting out of my “comfort zone” muscles. This experience will encourage me to be brave and open to other challenges and possibilities.

 

5. Embrace Support

We don’t walk through life alone. I recognize that I wouldn’t have considered this experiment, let alone to manifest it without support from others. While we often feel as though we can handle life on our own, embracing help can enhance our experiences. I’m grateful to Jane for challenging me, to Joanne for doing the rope course with me, to Eli for teaching me how to navigate the paths, to my family and friends that listened to me recount and make sense of my experience, and to all of you for reading and engaging in the conversation. 

 

Do you have a comfort zone pushing experience that comes to mind? What possibilities did you notice? What resonates with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I invite you to join the conversation.

 

 

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (14)

This post challenges me! I am also a safety/security kind of person, and I don't really enjoy sensations. Not sure I could have taken that leap backwards:) I do resonate with point #2. I often hear myself saying, "You can do this, Seana." Trying to think more along the "I'm excited" mindset instead of the "I'm anxious" mindset. I think I'm going to have to chew on this idea and come up with a place to stretch into! Stay tuned...

October 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

@Seana- I'm with you. The ropes course was a valuable experiment for me. While I've always understood that I tended towards safety, security, and "knowns," testing these ideas enabled me to view it from another perspective. It challenged my assumptions that "this is the way I am." And it helped me see an opening that I can step outside of that "safe" box. It doesn't mean I have to keep leaping off high platforms. There are other, quieter ways that I can experiment.

I love how you're going to "chew on this idea" and lean into the "excited" versus "anxious" mindset. I look forward to hearing more.

October 1, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I recently joined a choir - something I haven't done in over 30 years. This came about after recently starting a list of potential activities, not unlike you. But I never thought to organize them as you did, and I think that's brilliant. Considering that I haven't done anything on my list since July (joining a choir wasn't even on the list, but when I saw the notice, I knew it was for me), it might be worth grouping them as you suggest so it's not just a bunch of random ideas. Thank you so much!

October 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Janet- How exciting that you're now part of a choir. Singing, especially as a group, is so rewarding and beautiful. We have a choir at our synagogue that I love listening to, watching, and singing along with. I often notice the joy on their faces as they sing, and it reaches me on a deep emotional level. I saw how once you were on the look for activities, you decided to do something that wasn't even on your list. One of the things I've discovered is now that I'm looking, I see so many opportunities to try new things.

I'm glad you like the idea-grouping format. When I'm scheduling my week, it helps me to choose things from different categories. That gives me a wider range of experiences. I'm excited for you as you work on your "potential activities" list.

October 1, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

$5 is important to me. I have learned that in order for me to step outside my comfort zone I need support from others. Having outside support gives me the confidence to try new things. I think it also helps that I feel accountable to this support.

October 2, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Schiesl

@Janet S.- You make an excellent point about the value of support when pushing the comfort zone barriers. That support boosts our confidence and provides some accountability. I'm just curious if you intended to write "$5" at the beginning of your comment. If so, I'm not sure what you meant. I'd love to understand more.

October 2, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

When I accomplish something that is outside of my comfort zone, I become more humbled about how the universe supports me and I am proud of how I maneuver the adjustments.

October 2, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

Congratulations for getting out of your comfort zone and climbing the ropes! I like how you organized your activities into seven categories! I am someone who likes to stay within my comfort zone, but I find that I am best at getting out of my comfort zone when I'm with someone else, like a friend who encourages me. I need to think about what kind of activity I want to do next to get out of my comfort zone, and ask someone else to join me, or encourage me.

October 2, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Haworth

@Sabrina- How wonderful that you feel supported in such a generous way when you allow yourself to stretch beyond where you're comfortable. Way to go, Sabrina!

October 2, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Nancy- Thank you so much for the congrats and appreciation of the activities organizing. It's great that you know yourself well enough to recognize the importance of having a supportive friend there to either encourage or join you when stretching outside of your comfort zone. Initially, I planned to go to the ropes course on my own. My friend expressed an interest in pushing her limits, too, so we did it together. And I'm glad we did. It was great to have the support before, during, and after. And now we also have an extra special bond because we "survived" the ropes. :)

October 2, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Love your takeaways, Linda! Doing the ropes course was challenging and rewarding. But while reading your blog I realized how right you are about the negative dialogue. I think the negative soundtrack magnifies the fear. It wasn't until I stood up to the fear that I quelled those bad thoughts. That's when the pride in and enjoyment of my actions really kicked in. Think I'll hold on to your lesson and try to substitute the negative thoughts sooner in the process. Thanks for let me join your challenge!

October 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJoborg

@Jojo- I am SO happy that we went on the course together. As you said, that negative self-talk can magnify the fear. In extreme cases, it can also prevent us from taking that next small step. Remember when the woman came up to us before we went on the course and "stoked" our fear fire? She said those things just when we were waiting to begin and get instruction. It was also when my negative thoughts were in full swing. Her comments didn't help. But it DID help that you were there. We rolled our eyes together and had that unspoken look of "what the heck have we gotten ourselves into?" But we also had each other as support, and because you were there, I knew it would be OK. So thank you, my dear friend, for sharing this challenge with me. I am so grateful to you.

October 3, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

So proud of both of you! Looks both fun and challenging.

October 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterShar

@Shar- Thank you so much, my friend. We did our best to keep up the Wild Girls tradition! I appreciate the adjectives you chose- "fun and challenging." Those plus a few other choice words like (thinking fear and anxiety) pretty much describe our experience.

October 6, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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