Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone
In continuing the series of improving motivation, it just happens that I recently went through some emotional issues with motivation as I prepared for an upcoming trip to Europe.
When something out of the ordinary happens to me, I first get overwhelmed, then make to-do lists. Looking at the whole picture can become overwhelming, but when I list things out and go one item at a time, it tends to soften the blow. When I see things jotted down, it helps me focus my mind on the task at hand.
I found myself putting things off, as I looked at the cities I wanted to travel to. Each one had transportation to deal with, a room to reserve, and my fears to overcome. Why was I dragging my feet?
I recommend reading the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People” by Stephen Covey. He talks about the four quadrants that people engage in. Do they dilly-dally around and avoid work? Do they only work when in a crisis to put out fires? Do they preplan and come up with a proper plan of action and engage in it? He called this Sharpening the Saw. Well, I was dilly-dallying, staying busy with stupid things, watching T.V., and avoiding the task. Sound familiar?
I was also reminded of the book, “Mastery” by George Leonard. The book was on the subject of stretching your comfort zone. One thing that I took from the book, besides using your tools on a regular basis, was trying to take one more step forward. This takes a lot of courage because what would happen, once I got into the unknown? I’ve used this philosophy for years and it pushed me through college, opening up a business, and even dating. It was this focus that pushed me forward at this task and soon I started to get some great results.
What would happen if you pushed yourself forward? I remember years ago I would go on long weekend hikes then suddenly fear a few miles down the trail that I wouldn’t have the energy to return to my vehicle. I would work myself up into a frenzy and let my fears run me. All that did was stress me out and frantically charge me back to my car. And of course, I would make it back and I still had enough energy to return home and do some housework. I learned methods to calm myself down, by praising my efforts on the trail, breaking the journey down into 20-foot sections, knowing that I could at least make it to the next big tree, using affirmation statements that ensured me I was young and strong, and soon I was back without all the hysterics.
Why did I work myself up so much? I learned in my personal therapy that I harbored a lot of fear from the abuse I went through in childhood. I had stuffed it down and forgotten about it for years, but the ancient fears had continued to run me in stressful times. It was shocking when I engaged in therapy and started to talk about my interactions with my father, then one memory hit me in a session that disturbed me. I was on my father’s shoulders as he walked out into the ocean. Yeah, at the time, water and my father were not a good combination, and I probably paired being in the ocean and moving a far distance with something horrible. I learned ways to protect that innocent child within and now am at peace with the water and long 4-5 mile walks.
Stephen Covey kept creeping up in my consciousness this past week causing me to make a commitment to myself to complete this task and get this trip moving forward. I decided to finish my travel plans and reserve everything on my weekend off, where I wasn’t interrupted and could devote my attention to it. Did it help? Well, it did at first. After my initial flight was booked, I began getting fatigued. I wanted to stop and take a nap or play some card game on the computer. All that focus was tiring. But, George Leonard came to mind and kept pushing me against my comfort zone. A little more effort seemed to do me well because one by one my travel plans were made and finalized. Even though it took me four hours, at least I stepped through it to the end.
Addressing my fear of the unknown was interesting. I’ve never been to Europe and feared it may be like going to Downtown Seattle, where I always seemed to get hassled. I used to almost work exclusively with homeless people in Southern California, but the types up here are way more aggressive and desperate. Was I going to be dealing with folks like that? Then it hit me, I had a great interaction with one homeless person a few months ago, and the bottom line is it has to deal with my energy. Do I lean into this situation fearing the worst, thus creating the worst, or do I lean in with wonder and excitement creating the best? I’ve always been intrigued with the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace and seeing where the Beatles grew up. Shoot, I want to walk barefoot across the street at Apple Studios. And don’t get me started about Paris and all the museums. Would I allow my fears to stop me from exploring the best of what this world has to offer?
As you can see, we are all in this life together. Even this doctor of psychology has issues he has to work through, but I offer you this… I’ve learned so many tools that help get me through the difficulties of life, and to be honest, I am the one that creates them. It is my fears that hampered me with hiking, the ocean, making plans, and kept me prisoner. It has been my wonderous spirit that pushes me forward, especially during the times when I wanted to quit school, fold my failing business, quit relationships because they were too hard, and avoid becoming a homeowner. Each time I jotted down what I needed to accomplish, took it step by step, reminding myself to praise my own efforts, and push through my comfort zone. Life would be easy to just sit at home and watch TV, but out on the trail, on a kayak, or flying 30,000 feet up in the sky, life can be quite an adventure.
I promise to post some pictures when I return from my trip.
Compassionate Care is Always Available
There are many more tools and strategies you can use in your pursuit of happiness. Here is where we come in. Contact us at Basic Steps Mental Health and let us support and educate you on this journey back to your loving heart center. Imagine living a heart-centered life, regardless of what is happening externally. We’d love to be of help.
For 25 years, Dr. Scott Alpert, the clinical director of Basic Steps Mental Health, has treated over 7,000 people with mental health and addiction problems, using a Psychological approach that mixes and matches ten of the top approaches used in the industry. We are here virtually and in-person to help you get through this COVID-19 pandemic and many other difficulties you may be experiencing.
May you have good mental health.