Our comfort zone, it’s ever-changing. Equally, one person’s huge leap can be another person’s tiny step.
When we want or decide to leave our comfort zone, whether it’s a step or a leap, we may so desperately want to move forwards. And yet, when fear strikes, it can overrule every good intention or idea and can feel so powerful, so overwhelming, that it stops us in our tracks. We step back to the safety of our comfort zone. We may feel trapped, stuck, unhappy and frustrated there, but it feels safe, familiar, nonetheless. We might even ask ourselves “Who would I be if I did step out of that comfort zone?”.
As someone who used to suffer from severe anxiety, by definition the “fear of the unknown”, or in my case the ‘what ifs’, I repeatedly felt stopped me in my tracks and – just for example – it led to me making a vow never to take another exam, ever again. So I missed out on lots of exciting opportunities. The fear was too big for me to even think about taking a step forward.
Part of anxiety, I now consciously realise, is that our mind is so busy re-living the past and creating the scariest potential future scenarios, that we miss out on opportunities because of things that will most likely never happen. But, in our wildest dreams they could!
For me, it played out as a very loud ‘What if’ voice, you know the one who tells you it’s far too scary to do that thing, even though you really want to do it?
And you may start, even take that first step, act on that great idea, but the closer you get to it, the more it can feel like jumping off a cliff without a safety-harness.
For me, it took a while to turn that vow on its head, but now every time I jump it becomes easier. And, equally, for every new jump, sometimes even just a step, a new layer of fear can show up.
The key is that before, I used to feel the fear and do it anyway. Which felt great afterwards, but for the time leading up to the event, I felt the fear – big style. And frankly, it was exhausting, physically and energetically.
Now when I feel the fear (I actually couldn’t stop myself from jumping even if I tried), I use both my conscious mind, by recognising it (or her) showing up and then tap into my subconscious to free myself of the fear. So, I can step, or more often leap, out of my comfort zone feeling confident and trusting in the outcome (without planning every fine detail to make it happen). I do not use the word ‘trust’ lightly, it’s still a challenge for me, but when I do trust, even just a little, that’s when the magic happens.
I’ve become an expert into turning my own and my clients’ fears around. Seeing the glass as half-full instead of empty. It starts off consciously, but the more and more we do it, the more natural it becomes. Turning stress into calm and anxiety to confidence becomes programmed into our subconscious and feels so much more natural.
This has, literally, been a life-changer for me and it’s my mission to help others to realise that stress and anxiety do not have to part of our day-to-day life. That by freeing ourselves of stress and anxiety, we open ourselves to ever-changing (which can even feel amazing, not scary!) incredible and amazing opportunities.
It’s allowed me to get up in front of ever-growing groups of people to share practises and inspire others, within companies and corporation environments, like MBNA in Chester, Cassileth Plastic Surgery in Los Angeles, educational environments such as the online Tapping into Education World Summit and small, supportive local group settings. To take that leap of faith and by taking it, help others to do the same.
I would never in a million years have contemplated doing any of those things 20, 10 or even 5 years ago.
Here are some of the things I use and invite you to try as soon as your fear/monkey-mind/younger you (more about that later) shows up. I could actually write about each one of these in detail and maybe I will, but for now, here’s my list:
- Give your fear a voice. Record yourself, try journaling, which, essentially, is just writing all the fears down. Often just letting your fear feel heard can help you feel calmer and even turn your emotions around.
- Give your fear a name, read my monkey-mind blog to find out more. It can make the fear seem a little less scary. You could even try the Harry Potter magic of imagining your fear as an extremely silly character and not at all scary.
- Formulate an action plan of steps to take. A classic, I know, but it can work. And, as I mentioned before, how about building in some trust and flexibility that if parts of the plan change, that’s ok? If you catch yourself over-analysing (yes, I’ve bene there!), just go back to 1 – give each layer of fear a voice. Which can be particularly useful when combined with…
- Tapping – ok, if you know me, you might just be surprised it took me to No 4 to get to tapping! Either tap through any fears that come up either by yourself, use a guided tapping through the layers meditation like this one or depending on the extent of the fear, work with a practitioner of your choice.
- Go for a walk/run/dance/anything that gets you moving. It can be both grounding and – most importantly for anxiety – keep you in the present moment instead of in the past or the future. You may even gain some inspiration on moving forward.
- Listen to music. From binaural beats to certain brainwave-inducing sounds to singing bowl or classical music (which I fell upon in my teens and was one of the few practises that helped me focus on studying), music can help you zone out of the noise, calm your mind, help you focus and even zone into your creativity or intuition.
- Send yourself some compassion. Along with anxiety, the coulda/shoulda/woulda voice can often show up. Instead of letting that voice take over, how about giving ourselves a break/cut ourselves some slack/celebrate the wins instead of the losses?
- Phone a friend. Choose someone you know will listen and then cheer you on. You could even tap while you talk to help release the fear.
- Trust or Letting go, letting God/the Universe. A large part of feeling anxious is feeling out of control. So with that can come the need to feel in control and take action to make things happen. To try to stop that worst-case scenario from taking place. So, trust can sometimes feel hard, but when you learn to trust, even just a little, it can actually feel quite liberating and – I can feel my shoulders relaxing as I write – calming, empowering even. If you feel uncomfortable about trusting, how about turning your lack of trust into being open to the idea of trusting? For example, using tapping you could try a statement like “Even though I feel like I have to control everything to make it happen just right, I’m open to the idea that I could trust that this will all turn out for my highest good and those around me”. Sometimes it takes just a baby step to help you move forward.
- Breathe. Simple, I know, but when you’re feeling anxious or stressed, your heart tends to beat way too fast. Consciously slowing your breathing down and imagining breathing through your stomach yoga-style, or through your heart, hearth-maths-style, can help you tune out of fear into love and for me, into my intuition.
- I’ve left my favourite until last. I practise all of the above and recommend them to my clients, to adapt and use according to situation/frame of mind/time. But, the most life-changing and long-lasting method that’s worked for me and the hundreds of clients I’ve worked with is listening to, reassuring, resourcing and empowering that younger part of us who created the fear, the anxiety to keep her or himself safe. Because that was the best option for that situation with the resources we had at the time.
When you feel anxious about something, if it feels safe to do so, try to:
- Tune into your anxiety, your fear.
- Where do you feel it in your body?
- What colour shape is it?
- Listen to it. Instead of being annoyed/frustrated with it, how about sending it some love instead? Maybe even thank it for protecting you.
- Use one or more of the methods I describe above.
At some point in this (or previous) lifetimes, you created that fear, often before age 7 or even in the womb. So, you may remember the when/where/how, you may not. But he or she is still there, helping you run the same patterns and beliefs. You CAN help her, set her and subsequently, yourself, free. Turn your fear and your way of thinking, around. Expand your comfort zone and your potential. You don’t need to keep running the same old theme now and into the future.
As part of the work I have chosen to do, I’ve resourced my younger selves and those of my clients.
The 7-year-old girl who left her friends, her home, her way of life and her country. Previously, she felt helpless and alone. She now feels supported and trusting that she’ll be ok.
The 8-year-old who felt she would never be as good as her classmates in her spelling tests or accepted as herself. She now knows that she has skills others don’t and feels their equal.
The 17 year-old with all those feelings of pressure to ‘do well’, ‘be responsible’ and live up to others’ expectations of her potential. She now knows that she is good enough, as herself.
There are many other parts of me, including the girl who felt held back as a woman, which goes back through many female generations, who can now see all the positives of and be proud of being a woman.
Now all these younger parts of me are resourced and more confident, I can feel their energy supporting me, cheering me on. So now, when I face a challenge, we hold hands and jump out of our comfort zone – together.
If you feel scared of jumping out of your comfort zone, why not try some of the points I mentioned above?
Resourcing and empowering your younger self is often best saved to work with a practitioner of your choice, as it can bring up unsettling fears that have been pushed down for a long time. A practitioner will hold that safe space for you and guide you to let go and move forward. For now, maybe you could just imagine giving that younger you a big hug and let her know she’s safe and she survived. Sometimes that’s all a young, scared child needs.
I’d love to hear if my ideas have helped you, or if you have any other ideas that have worked for you that you’d like to share.
If you need some encouragement as you prepare to step out of your comfort zone, or face a challenge, know that I am right here, cheering you on every step of the way.
If you’re interested in knowing more about how I could help you and your younger self feel less anxious and more empowered, you can find me at bamazingu.com.
Sending love, light and sparkles your way. Andrea Bird from BAmazingU