As we grow, we develop invisible boundaries in terms of what’s acceptable and comfortable in our lives. These are shaped by positive and negative outcomes alike. To put is simply, we learn: when I do this, I feel good; when I do that, I feel bad. On the whole, this is a very good thing that has allowed the human species to survive – we’ve learned what to eat, and what not to. What to touch, and what would burn us. Etc. Etc.
As individuals, however, this ability can often limit our lives because of a limit or a bad experience that had a strong emotional impact on us. I love using the circus elephant to illustrate this; they come into the ring led by a bit of string. Let’s call our elephant Daisy. If she really wanted to do something like charge the crowd, that string would do nothing to stop/restrain her. But the Daisy doesn’t know that – she just knows that from the time she was young, the thing tied around her leg limited her freedom. That’s because when she was a baby, they used a chain tied to a post, and as she got bigger, the trainers slowly changed it until it became the string it is today.
Obviously, your average person wasn’t chained to a post growing up. But, most people can remember a time where they got up to speak in front of a group in school, and got a bad reaction from their audience. Having gone through that, it’s easy to develop into the adult afraid of public speaking, which can severely hinder a career. Or on a personal level, perhaps you missed out on a relationship because you or your partner had been hurt badly in the past, and were afraid to open up and try again? At least as a girl I know that fear of commitment runs rampant with guys.
So, how do you expand your comfort zone?
1. The First Step Is Admitting you Have a Problem – Okay, so maybe not a problem. But an area in your life they you think can and should be improved. If you are going to sit there and lie to yourself saying you are perfectly happy all by yourself, go ahead. But you probably know deep down you aren’t truly happy…
2. Set a Goal – Always have an idea where you are heading. Say you want to be able to speak in front of a crowd of 50 plus people, that’s your focus. I recommend setting your goal 20% higher than where you actually want to end up, just because it never hurts.
3. Take the Leap – the hardest part is getting started. I find that just not thinking about what I’m about to do and making the jump is the easiest. Once it’s out there, it’s done. I can’t change it, and, to this point in time, I’ve always survived!