I’m at a place right now that Elizabeth Gilbert describes in her book Big Magic as “interesting”. It’s that spot right on the edge of your comfort zone where if you take one more step forward – WHAM! you are in uncharted, scary territory.
“Don’t let go of your courage the moment things stop being easy or rewarding. Because that moment? That’s the moment when interesting begins.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
I’ve been teetering on the edge of this precipice for a couple of weeks now. And let me tell you, it is a disconcerting place to be. There’s no peace or calm. My stomach feels like any moment one of those Alien spawns is going to pop out like a Jack-in-the-box. There’s this unsettling, undefined thought hanging out in the back of my head like some premonition of horror awaits me.
I’m going to be honest, I am not familiar with this constant discomfort. In the past I’ve made an easy retreat right back into the safety of Mediocreville. I don’t like it. I’ve walked up to this edge so many times that there is a well worn rut and this time – THIS TIME – I am stepping forward.
O.K. stepping might be the wrong word, I’m inching my way out, daintily putting my toe in the water to see just how cold it is. This is uncharted territory for me.
Let me be clear – it’s not like I’ve never stepped outside of my comfort zone. I mean, life isn’t like that. Shit happens and you have to deal with it. We discover we can persevere, even thrive, in situations we couldn’t even imagine. When the going gets tough…
But there has been this one BIG THING hanging over my head, literally stopping me in my tracks from successfully creating my own business for decades and I have been frustrated beyond reason at my inability to overcome it.
Because with this one BIG THING, I’ve always retreated back to my comfort zone. Because I continued to reinforce the idea (hence the ruts) that this BIG THING was insurmountable. Because instead of examining my fears, I gave in to them. Because I felt like my very existence – my worth as a human being (literally, I’m not kidding!) – was at stake!
Because I never tried to think differently or do anything different about it except “try harder”.
I know now that this was all in my head. But habits of thought and unexamined, misplaced beliefs don’t just disappear overnight when you become aware of them. It’s not that easy. It requires constant diligence – being aware of what you are thinking and catching yourself. It requires creating a new – healthier – perspective.
So how do you do that?
We stay in our comfort zone because it’s comfortable, boring, but comfortable. We let our fears get the best of us – fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of making a fool of ourselves.
How do we move past these fears?
Don’t take it personally.
How many times have you tried something and it didn’t work? What did you do? Well, if you’re like me, you think something is wrong with you. Then you get caught up in this endless loop of…failure. And you think you’re a failure instead of putting the blame squarely where it belongs – on the process! There are many ways to achieve a result and there are many ways not to achieve a certain result. Keep testing the waters until you find the way that works and feels right for you. This isn’t personal. It’s called trial and error.
It’s not about you.
We get so caught up in worrying about what people think about us. What do we try to do? We try to impress them. Even people we don’t like! It’s too much pressure.Some people will like you, some people won’t, so what? Focus on the people you like and want to make a connection with.
It’s all about you.
I’m being contradictory, aren’t I? First I tell you it’s not about you but then I tell you it’s all about you.
Stay with me.
When you are trying to impress someone, trying to make them like or approve of you, are you being genuine? No. When I say “it’s all about you,” I am saying it in the context of being authentically you. Be yourself. Honor and respect yourself. The only person’s approval you need is your own!
I’ve wasted too much of my life worrying about what other people thought of me because I didn’t think much of myself. Not a belief system that helps you move outside of your comfort zone. It created a vicious cycle. Every time I tried to get someone else’s approval it reinforced the belief that someone had to validate me in order for me to be worthy.
This is bullshit.
We are all worthy. We are all enough. What’s my argument or evidence for this? You exist. Period.
I realized that when I was living my life looking for outer validation, I wasn’t living my life. I wasn’t living much at all. I wasn’t accomplishing much, I wasn’t learning. I wasn’t growing and I certainly wasn’t contributing.
I’m learning to reframe my thoughts. Being authentic means being mindful, present and open. It means living my life on my terms and allowing others to live their life the way they want. It means dropping the judgmental attitude. I’m not living my whole life for others to validate me. I’m just living- following my passions, finding my purpose, sharing my gifts and talents and trying to figure out how I can be of service and contribute to the greater good. I’m searching for ways to align myself with the universe instead of trying to force things to work.
We all have a BIG THING that gets in our way. The question is – when you are on your death bed, do you want to remember your life as being “safe” (i.e mediocre, boring) or do you want to remember it as interesting?