Life begins where your comfort zone ends.
Do you ever think about your default personality? By that I mean, the way you show up and behave in new situations? I used to think mine was a bit reserved, but mostly friendly and approachable—and then I got a serious wake up call.
I was taking the second class in a series on personal development. The first class had been incredibly eye opening and important enough to me that I had signed up for the follow-on. This was experiential learning—translation—learning by doing— and I already knew that they had us do some crazy stuff. As I sat there that morning, I felt intense sensations of dread and anxious anticipation. What were they going to have us do? Could I handle it? Would I embarrass myself? What if I couldn’t do it?
Our instructor began the intro. He went over the usual things—rules, housekeeping, expectations, etc. But then as he dove into why we were all there that morning, he said something that rocked my world. He said, “The way you show up here is the way you show up in life.”
Hmmmmm. How had I shown up? With that lovely dread and anxious anticipation I mentioned before. Was that how I showed up in life? Yes. Yes it was.
As I thought more about it, I realized that I spent a ridiculous amount of time worrying about what I didn’t know and couldn’t control. Despite being a smart, capable and resilient individual, I walked around in a constant state of overdrive when put in unfamiliar situations. This produced two things in my life:
- More often than not I stayed in my comfort zone—within the safe confines of my home and family.
- When I did venture out, I took most of my own enjoyment out of the excursion by being nervous, uptight and anxious—even in seemingly benign situations.
Inevitably, my worrying was for naught. My worst case scenarios, fears and dreads never came to fruition. Even in that class with all its craziness—I did just fine. Reality has always been gentler than the nonsense I create in my mind.
My take away from this lesson has been profound. Recognizing this anxiety ridden part of myself has allowed me to gently change it. When my blood pressure goes up and my heart starts pounding in an unknown situation I remind myself to trust. Trust that I can handle whatever comes, trust that I am safe, trust that other people know what they are doing and that the best approach is to relax and enjoy something new. It isn’t always easy, but when I am able to do it, the experience is richer and fuller because of it.
The class I took changed me. That first day I showed up with dread and anxiety, nowadays I try my hardest to show up to life relaxed and excited for what will come. I don’t always succeed, but I’m constantly working on it, and encouraging my clients to do the same.
How do you show up in life? Do you need to change your autopilot the way I did? Please leave a comment below.
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