Moving Out Of Your Comfort Zone – Hypnotherapy in Ely and Newmarket
We’re told a lot that life begins at the edge, or outside, of our comfort zone. The message is clear, if you want to live a fulfilling life and to be happy, then you need to do more and more and newer and newer things.
And certainly there’s an element of truth in this. As humans, we are learning machines, we seek out novelty and grow accustomed to sameness. We can become stale and feel stuck in the same old routine if we aren’t stretching ourselves a bit. Getting a bit uncomfortable can make life more exciting and interesting, and it can add that good feeling that comes from giving effort and focus towards a desired goal.
Yet, despite that, I do think there can be happiness and reward even if you stay within your comfort zone. You don’t need to start jumping from planes, dropping off cliffs, speak in front of a thousand people or do any of those things that living outside your comfort zone can easily inspire in your imagination. You can stretch yourself within the realms of the areas you already enjoy. You can add variety and challenge into what you already enjoy, whether that’s exercise and sport, playing an instrument, in your workplace or whatever. You can feel comfortable in yourself and your environment as you push yourself on a bit.
And whilst usually I feel pretty comfortable in myself within my own routine, especially when it comes to my high intensity training and running, there’s still room for getting comfortable with feeling uncomfortable and room to try new things, experiment, set challenging goals and then put the work in towards them. Yet more recently, an opportunity has come up that has really pushed me outside of my own comfort zone in my training, yet which is bringing rich rewards beyond the ever oscillating mix of nervousness, fear, confidence and excitement.
Expanding My Comfort Zone
As someone who is historically just a runner, over recent years and with a number of niggles, I’ve had to seek more strength training and more variety in what I do, rather than the same old repetitive running motion. In fact, I used to joke I was a bit like a T-Rex, with strong and powerful legs for running, yet tiny, weak arms to go with it.
So when I got an injury that lasted month after month, I couldn’t just not exercise (my mental health and physical health need the activity), and so that’s when I first started high intensity bootcamp training. And the first few sessions were a big, big shock to my body. At first I could only manage one session a week because it took that long for me to recover afterwards! Fast forward a while, and with more training, conditioning and practice, I now usually turn out four bootcamps a week, one PT sessions and a five mile plus run each week. Some elements of training are more challenging that others, particularly lifting (or trying to lift while pulling frightful facial expressions) anything remotely heavy.
Yet most of this is within my comfort zone. Sometimes you get a little uncomfortable doing some aspects of training but it is all around people and places that are comfortable and a weekly routine that is familiar.
And being someone who like a challenge, when my trainer suggested pairing with another guy (who I’ve known since running club days) and entering a competition, my immediate response was ‘no way!’ And it stayed that way for a while until he wore me down with his enthusiasm!
We entered the qualifiers, did the three set workouts and somehow just about scraped out way into qualification for the main event.
Along the way I was tested and pushed, mentally and physically, including when doing overhead lifts as part of qualifying. I hadn’t done too much lifting in the lead up due to a sore elbow so I was pretty pleased to be able to hit my half of the lifting with my partner (just don’t ask me what that face is all about!):
All of the qualifiers had certain standards and a time limit. We recorded them, sent them in and awaited our fate!
Perhaps the most brutal of all the training sessions I’ve done recently was this one which seemed never ending and which, remarkably, my partner and I did separately on separate days and somehow we were only one second apart over twenty eight minutes of flat out work:
So while I’m always happy in my regular training, with elements of comfort and discomfort along the way, I’m pretty pleased to have been part of this experience. Hopefully, I’ll still be saying the same thing in a couple of weeks after actually taking part in the event itself!
There have been many benefits from expanding and stepping out of my comfort zone here. I’ve definitely got fitter and stronger from the challenge and I’ve learnt new skills, such as how to skip….not very gracefully but better than not being able to do it at all before this! There’s the good feeling of setting challenges and working towards achieving them, having a goal that is on the border of fear and excitement, and there is a massive positive in getting to train with my partner and learning how to best communicate, together, motivate each other and just the plain old positive camaraderie from training with a great guy and a great coach.
Stepping Out of your Comfort Zone
As with many goals and challenges, perhaps the hardest step is the first one. We procrastinate, talk ourselves out of things, find ways to delay making a decision and committing, and do all sorts of psychological twists and turns that keep us rooted in our safe space. And if you are happy in yourself and with your life within your comfort zone then that is great, yet, if you want to achieve more and you know it will benefit you, and you want to find out what you are capable of, then it is time to take hold of what you are doing and take action.
Naturally, the first thing to consider is what you want to be doing. What is the goal you want to achieve and what benefits will it bring to you and your life from taking action? Having a specific goal in mind will give you focus, allow you to measure progress along the way and it should fire up your motivation, determination and inspiration for taking action. You may also find it helpful to consider what you are likely to find more comfortable along the way, as well as those elements that are likely to be more challenging for you and where you may need to draw upon more of your inner strength and robustness.
Your goal should be challenging enough to motivate you, but not so challenging that it’s overwhelming and where the doubts and fears stop you engaging in the things you need to do. Remind yourself that there will be challenges along the way, and that is a good thing because you get to employ and develop problem solving skills and you have to learn how to orchestrate what goes on inside your own head. Only this morning I did some pretty shocking deadlifts and was starting to feel a bit down on myself so I had to remind myself that a few weeks ago I couldn’t have even done what I did so it was time to get my head back in the game before the next set of exercises got going.
So set yourself that challenge, remind yourself regularly why you want to achieve it and the positive benefits and ramifications it will have when you accomplish it, and then start taking the first step towards it (and then the next small step, and then the next small step…). When I mention to people that I’ve run marathons, they usually respond by telling me that they could never do that. And, in that moment and without any training that’s probably true. Yet you wouldn’t just decide to go and run a marathon without any training first (or you could but it would be unpleasant!). You would get a plan, take each training run as it came, build up your endurance and the ability to keep going and, step by step, you would learn, adapt, overcome challenges, develop skills and make progress. There’s a journey to go on towards achieving goals, and if your goal is worthwhile, then that involves progressing and stepping outside of your current comfort zone, as well as handling any perceived setbacks along the way.
Sometimes when we have a personal goal we may want to keep it to ourselves and use our own inner resources to propel us. Certainly that was how I tackled running races and marathons in the past (and in a long run you need to learn how to utilise and manage what goes on inside of your head while you are out there on your own). Yet other times, like here, there are huge positives in working with other people who support you, encourage you and want the best for you. My coach, James (175 Fitness), helps with planning, measuring and motivation (although I still blame him for getting me into this competition mess!!), and my partner and I talk things through, help keep each other focused and share our thoughts and thinking. You don’t have to go it alone, you can get yourself a supportive crew who enhance your progress and results.
I had to learn new skills along the way, such as the skipping and a certain form of overhead lifting (which has some proper name but I wasn’t paying enough attention!). I relish the fact that there are things I can do now that a few weeks ago I had never even tried or attempted. I may not have perfected them so far, but they are improving and it feels good to grow in this way. Enjoy learning new skills and trying new things along the way.
It’s always worth constantly reminding yourself of the benefits of what you are doing, why you are doing it and what expanding your comfort zone in this way will get you or do for you. Feeling a little nervous or uncomfortable along the way is a positive sign, it means you are stretching yourself and expanding your capabilities, Whilst our natural tendency may be to treat being uncomfortable as a sign to back off, when you are stepping out of your comfort zone it can be a sign of development, learning and growth. It’s an indicator that you are doing things differently from normal here.
And, as you would expect from me, keep in mind there are many, many ways to harness your mindset and thinking that will benefit you. By drawing upon psychological capabilities, such your imagination, focus, belief and self-talk, you can take control over your thoughts and feelings in ways that are positive, motivating and encouraging towards yourself and towards what you want to achieve outside of your comfort zone.
And if all else fails, just smile! Really, what’s the worst could happen. Things don’t go well but you tried? You only achieve part of your goal (which is more progress than how things were before)? And definitely don’t get me started on wasting your time on what others may think (or I’ll send you links to my articles about worrying what others think and fear of failure…although you really ought to have already taken a look at the potentially life changing science and evidence I cover in those articles).
Being truthful, I’m a bit nervous and a bit excited about the competition that’s coming up. It’s going to challenge me and it’s going to be an awesome experience (even if we come last!).
And so I’ll shortly be heading to take part in these ‘Winter Wars’ and stepping way beyond my usual comfort zone. My only goal right now is to aim to perform to my best, to try and enjoy at least some of it and to come out of it the other side in one piece! I’ll be sure to let you know how I get on and I wish you well as you take some action and begin to stretch your own comfort zone in exciting and beneficial ways.
To your health and happiness,
Anxiety Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket
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