STEP INTO THE UNKNOWN TO BUILD RESILIENCE AND SELF-WORTH
My heart was pounding in my chest and I thought it was going to burst. But I knew I still had to do it. And so, I stepped into the void.
The world swirling dizzily 10,000 feet beneath me, what little I had in my stomach threw itself up into my throat, blocking my screams of fear and terror, but also exhilaration and the extraordinary sensation of YES! I had done it—jumped out of an airplane strapped to this person I didn’t know, giving up all sensibility in order to meet once again, face to face, my fear of heights. It was a challenge I was determined to take on so that I wouldn’t be crushed by some unknown determinant of what I could or couldn’t do.
In order to get more comfortable, I had to get uncomfortable.
We spend a lot of our life trying to stay in a zone of comfort. Why not? It feels good and safe to be there. We know and understand the landscape, all the scents and textures, even if we don’t necessarily like it.
Reflect for a moment on that job you dreaded going to every day but somehow didn’t act to look for something else. Or that stretch of time before you finally initiated your divorce. Or the convincing voice that holds you back from going out on a Friday night even though you’re feeling isolated and in need of community. Even with unfavorable consequences, the saying “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t” rings true.
Getting out of your comfort zone requires you to be vulnerable.
- Vulnerable to not knowing what’s truly on the other side.
- Vulnerable to facing the wild imagination you have of everything that can go wrong
- Vulnerable to the possibility of things not working out as planned.
But what is life without vulnerability? When would you actually grow without taking a chance? Stepping into the unknown requires courage which—from its Latin derivative—means heart. Courage is living from the heart and embracing your dreams, pushing yourself to step beyond rote simplicity into experiencing life on a richer level.
STEP INTO YOUR POWER
What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail or, better yet, what would you do even if you knew you would fail? Getting out of your comfort zone—besides making you feel alive—builds resiliency and efficacy, strengthening that inner confidence and trust you have in yourself that you can do things you never imagined before. Stepping over the edge of discomfort, while often nerve-racking, gives you a sense of personal empowerment. It’s like stepping into our Amy Cuddy Wonder Woman pose (she is a psychologist well-known for a TED talk and book—Presence: Bring Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges—on power posing, a method for, among other benefits, increasing one’s self-confidence).
Even as the feeling fades and you move into the shadows of another moment of discomfort, your attitude and perspective will have changed. The habit of turning away has shifted a degree. There’s a little bit more boldness and courage in your stance.
While you’ve still got time this summer, what’s one thing you’d like to try—something that would have you feeling a rush of nervous but excited energy? What would have you saying, “Yes, I did it!” without attachment to perfection of the outcome, where the unknown was an acceptable variable?
In my recent nonscientific poll, some things people would like to do outside of their comfort zone include:
- Run a 5K
- Do a live video on their social media business page
- Tell someone they love them
- Do a stand-up comedy routine
- Participate in an activist gathering
- Go on a dance retreat
- Bike the rail trails
- Forgive someone.
I’m inviting you to put down shyness, fear, trepidation, pure logic, and all the reasons why not and instead turn to face your aliveness staring back at you in the mirror. See what’s behind the curtain of sameness. Have some fun and stretch yourself to try something new and daring, do things differently. This is how you learn and grow.
Don’t wait for absolute clarity or confidence before you act. “To be born into the new, one must die to the old.” And remember, small steps are great. You don’t need to get pushed out of an airplane . . . unless, of course, you’re ready for that.