There is a quote in the book You Are a Badass Every Day that I love...
"If you run from your fears, they will follow you. If you run straight at your fears, they will get the hell out of your way. Fears hate it when you do that."
Last year I found myself venturing out of my comfort zone, into the unknown alternatively called my 'discomfort zone'. I actually found it empowering, liberating and a little bit exhilirating. I found that when I put myself into a situation that started out as uncomfortable, I made more friends, had more fun and enjoyed more life as a result. I choose my word of the year for 2019 to be BRAVE as I wanted to push myself further, test my boundaries and spend a little more time in my discomfort zone to see what would happen when I allowed myself to get uncomfortable. The more books I read lately, the more the topic of 'living outside if your comfort zone' and facing/challenging your fears seems to come up. When I choose my word of the year as BRAVE I had no idea the books that would fall into my reading queue, how fitting they would be to align with this word and this idea of getting uncomfortable. It's reassuring to know that it seems to be a trend in the self-development space and one that I am totally on board to ride as long as I can.
I recently read the book, Can't Hurt Me, by David Goggins. One of the chapters in the book talks about the notion of your 'discomfort zone' and what figuring out what that look likes for you. Goggins says that we should step outside of our comfort zones on a regular basis and I'm finding that I totally agree. He suggests a great place to start is to make a list of things that you don't like to do and/or things that make you feel uncomfortable. In doing so, pay close attention to the things that you tend to shy away from, things you don't like doing but you know that, deep down, they are good for you or things that frankly just suck. Once you've got your list, make it a personal goal to do one thing on that list in the next week, next month or right now (#whywait). Continue to do that thing over and over until it becomes more comfortable at which point you can adapt to stretch yourself further then move onto the next item in your list. Your list will likely include small, micro level things as well as larger, bigger picture items.
For example, something as little as making your bed every morning might be something you don't like to do. You know its a good practice to have but it often becomes one more thing to do in the morning and sometimes you feel that you just don't have time, it won't really make that big of a difference and why make it if you're just going to sleep in it again in eight hours. I go in phases where I will diligently make my bed each day but then quickly fall out of habit. On the days that I do make the effort though, I actually do feel more organized, have better start to my morning and generally feel better. Such a small effort of doing something that's not the most fun can have a much larger impact on the remainder of the day. And, it's really not that time consuming but the excuses we will make to do something that we don't care to do become endless. Stop the cycle, step up to the plate and just make the bed already.
Maybe something like trying a new group fitness class at your gym is on the list. This one was on my list before I even really had a list. From my own personal experience, I found it quite intimidating to join a big group of fit people that all seem know what's going on. I didn't want to look I couldn't handle it or have a hard time keeping up. If this sounds like you and makes you feel uncomfortable, try it. Spend the first class in the back row and do your best to modify as you need. When you feel more confident and comfortable, move up to the front of the class or try out a different class altogether. Trust me when I tell you that as much as you think other people are watching and that's what makes you nervous, they aren't. Also, just because they have been doing it forever, doesn't mean they always know what's going on either. Formats and choreography change so frequently that often times all the participants are in the position of trying things for the first time, even the most veteran of group fitness goers which is me now and I'm still always learning. Now, I LOVE group fitness and attend probably four to five classes a week. I actually consider some of the instructors my friends and have also met a lot of new people in my gym as a result of attending classes. I still get that feeling of unfortable-ness when I try a new format, new choreography or class but now I see it more as a fun challenge rather than something scary. You might be surprised how welcoming those 'intimidating people' are and how fun group fitness classes can be once you walk through the door and give it a try.
Your list might include similar examples or have quite a different focus depending on your stage of life/schedule/commitments/priorities, etc. Maybe talking in front of large crowds sends you to your discomfort zone. Maybe it's having a one-on-one conversation and big crowds are no big deal. Whatever it is, vow to challenge yourself and commit do doing that thing you don't want to do, whatever it is, and see how you feel once you've conquered it.
Occasionally, something that is not on your list will find its way into your daily life/routine without permission or question. This happened to me last Sunday when it poured for the duration of my half marathon. I was comfortable running a half marathon (well as comfortable as I could be) but was uncomfortable when I knew I had to run in the rain. I did it anyway and soon what was uncomfortable in the beginning became more comfortable as I kept pushing towards the finish line. In the end, I felt stronger and more capable for completing my race 100% in the wind and rain. If this happens to you, let it happen. Be okay with the unknown and uncomfortable. Settle in to the feelings, allow yourself to feel the discomfort and vulnerability and use that to propel you forward.
In the book mentioned above You Are a Badass Every Day, author Jen Sincero, talks about finding and creating your spiritual gym. Just as you show up for the actual gym however many days a week and spend the time to work on your physical health, you should also spend time working on your spiritual health. I believe that creating your list of what makes you uncomfortable and working your way through that is an excellent way to work your spirtual muscle. Getting out of your comfort zone, spending a little more time feeling uncomfortable actually makes you stronger, spirtually, mentally and maybe even physically. Flex those weaknesses, move into the discomfort zone and be amazed at how you feel when you come out the other side. My guess is you will feel more empowered, strong, and capable of handling unknown and/or stressful situations that life throws your way. After spending time feeling uncomfortable, you will actually become comfortable and then can continually work to push your own limits and boundaries.
If you read my February goals post, you know that I am vowing to do one thing this month that makes me uncomfortable and if you saw my Instagram stories this week, you know what that is! Doing stories of personal videos of me talking to the camera makes me feel weird, awkward and is frankly just plain intimidating so I'm doing it. I'm going to step in front of that camera a couple of times each week and talk to it, well talk to you. Whoever is wiling to listen. I've got my first one under my belt and was pleasantly suprised to recieve some nice comments from my followers, so thank you for helping me feel a little more confident in my uncomfortable-ness.
So, what's on your list? Spend a few minutes to create your 'Getting Unfortable' list, writing down all the things you don't like to do, don't want to do or are simply scared to do and/or try. I'd love to hear from you if you are up for sharing your list and help to support you as you venture into your discomfort zone. Together we can do this. Together will be become stronger. Together will be run straight out our fears pushing them so far out of the way they won't know what hit them!