We all know that stepping out of our comfort zone feels unsafe. Our reptilian brain wakes up and smells the uncertainty and does whatever it can to get us out of there. It’s confused. It thinks it’s keeping us safe. But it’s just keeping us small. It likes it tight and cozy. It likes to keep an eye on everything, just in case.
But our soul wants wide open spaces. It wants a view.
This is how it goes for me: I want to do the thing. I’m scared to do the thing. I want to get less cared before I do the thing so it’s easier to do the thing. But it doesn’t work that way.
I try anyway, employing such timeless strategies as: being a deer in the headlights, bemoaning my lack of ability and discipline, talking on the phone, binge-watching shows, staring into the white light of the open fridge, and in general, over-scheduling or over-committing so, gee, see? I just can’t get to it now!
Yet, I know that having done thing is the BEST feeling! I am alive with energy and relief and frankly, all the new information and ideas that come from taking action.
There are many tricks I employ to take my fear with me as I do the thing. Sometimes just focusing on how good it will feel to have done the thing works, and then the next time, I’m a tiny bit less scared. The more I do it, the less scared I am and pretty soon my comfort zone expands to include this new thing.
We all want to expand. It’s hard-wired. How we do the expanding varies wildly, but the drive to expand is in all of us. We can’t help it. We’re curious monkeys at odds with a primal drive to stay safe. Those are the push/pull forces within us. Waiting for that to be different works as well as blowing out a lightbulb.
One of the choices Steven Chandler mentions in his book, Crazy Good; A book of Choices, is Choosing versus Deciding. At first, they may sound like the same thing. If you’ve ever been a waitress, you know the difference. You know the pain of standing beside a customer as he stares and stares at the menu, I don’t know… What’s good here? I just can’t…I mean, I don’t…What do you think?
OMG JUST PICK SOMETHING SO I CAN SCURRY BACK TO THE KITCHEN!
You have to choose. You’re the only one that can do it.
You’re the only one who can take that class, make that pitch, write that page, send that email, have that conversation, toss out that ratty bra, sing on that stage. That’s the bad and good news. No one can do it for you but when you do it, you own it. It’s yours.
You mustered the courage. You faced your fears. You get to swagger and strut.
I can’t make a client do the thing. I can’t make anyone do any thing. I can’t even make my son get out of bed in the morning. I can sweet talk him or yell at the top of my lungs and everything in between. He’s either going to get out of bed. Or he’s not.
Doing the thing brings a bunch of uncertainty. Who knows what’s going to happen? Will you fail? Fall flat on your face? Feel exposed? Embarrassed? Piss someone off or scare them away? Will your hands shake? Will you make a little poo in your pants?
Will they see that you don’t know what you’re doing?
That’s one of my big fears.
Even though I know that doing anything that matters means tolerating the discomfort of not knowing on the way to knowing.
I also know that most of the time people don’t see us the way we imagine they are seeing us so chances are, we look and sound a gazillion times more steady and confident that we feel.
But mostly I know, SO WHAT? Not only is it okay if they see me not being sure of myself, I’ve decided it’s a plus.
When I see someone nervously showing up, I am flooded with empathy. I’m totally in their corner.
I’m all in.
I realize now, that feeling? That’s my body learning how to be brave because courage is taught by example; courage is contagious.
No one wants to see your perfect polished performance. They want to see your truth. When you speak from your truth, you speak with your heart and when you speak with your heart, you wake up theirs.
And that’s what we need, more of us out there beyond the edge of our comfort zones, doing the open-hearted things.