I read this article as an interesting juxtaposition to my post on FEAR last week. Being OK outside of your comfort zone and actively doing so on an individual basis within your own limits, which will vary enormously from person to person is an idea I have thought and written about before.
I even registered the URL www.getoutofyourcomfortzone.com a few years ago, as I believe it’s a necessary thing to do and overcome if you are to pursue your dreams and live an authentic life. It’s too easy for fear to shut down those aspirations and keep us hidden away in small boxes. We loose our power, purpose and disconnect when this happens.
This article refers to research done in the 1970’s about how parental attachment in children at a young age to a person leaves them secure, happier and frees them to pursue thrill seeking activities such as rock climbing. This is widely understood and acknowledged now in the world of adoption, where the lack of dependence on an adult by children who are subsequently adopted gives rise to feelings of insecurity for children and their adoptive families who need help to form secure and dependent relationships in their own lives.
The question it prompted for me was: ‘where does safety come from?’ Feeling it in a group setting of say a course you’re running or at a networking event between participants could be reassuring if they’re keen, like minded and interested.
I needed to tell a friend yesterday that I was going to a women’s networking group event last night where you stand up and speak for 30 seconds about
yourself at the beginning and again at the end. Her encouraging response of ‘you’ll be fine and good luck’, was what I needed to hear as well as knowing that she had given me her support and energy. I don’t think it made me feel safe though or curtailed the anxiety I felt on entering the room. I was out of my comfort zone, facing the fear and doing it anyway.
Most people can relate to the need for a safe haven in the shape of a nice home and a place you feel able to relax in. But what if your sense of safety as an adult comes from your children or your partner or your home means you don’t interact with the world? There is the potential to become too dependent and too entwined in their lifestyles rather than pursuing goals, which are just for you.
Accepting that you may have to feel discomfort physically, emotionally, mentally in order to go there, do the research, endure the challenges and seek out creative solutions for yourself by yourself could be the difference between success and failure and the accompanying extent of accomplishment.
Yes support is to be embraced, found and asked for. There’s no virtue in trying to be superwoman and do it all yourself as you burn out and can be left feeling resentful or disappointed in both yourself and others. The support, security and safety provided by children and partners is often unspoken, given unquestioningly with their energy, interest and encouragement.
Last year I didn’t feel secure and can relate to the research findings of not having a sense of vitality. After four years of living in a foreign country, whilst trying to have an exciting life and wanting to honour my real self, follow my dreams in terms of doing a meaningful job which I’d decided on rather than ‘teaching English’, I lost my way to prolonged anxiety.
For the first two years in France we lived in the small world of our family unit. Day to day was about exploring, surviving and sleeping. It was nice to have that time en famille doing and spending all our time together – playing games, skiing, camping, walking etc. Everything felt knew and different, as if I’d been plummeted into an alien world mainly due to the language, but other everyday customs such as shops closing on Mondays and restaurants only serving food between 12-2 took their time to adjust to and accept.
After a trip to the UK in Summer 2012 I was ready to come ‘home’ and wanted a bigger life. I found a weekly dance class where I could express myself without words and just enjoy being me amongst lovely people with whom I felt safe. I was teaching English, which fit in around the children, was easy and enjoyable making life feel more rounded. Our social life consisted of having a steady stream of friends to stay.
After walking the Camino in 2013, buying a house, giving up my job to pursue my writing dreams and my husband’s job taking him abroad more frequently, I felt the need to both cling to him again and then push him away. Psychologist Michele Luke of the Univeristy of Southampton concluded that: “People who anxiously cling to, or push away, their closest connections are drained, enervated by their lack of security.” I wondered last week why I hadn’t just gone walking or written my blog last year, but I couldn’t as my sense of emotional safety had evaporated ‘to embark on new adventures due to being too wrapped up in bad feelings.’
“Is a secure, happy relationship the key to an exciting life?” I would say yes to this question but ask: What happens when that secure, happy relationship flounders or has been traded on for too long without nourishment? Relationships don’t come with life time guarantees. Friends, hobbies, work can be substitutes and help but if they’re in short supply where do you go? A counselor yes we went, but I think you have to go inside yourself to find that certainty. Connection with our intuition as a guide in how to do our lives provides security in knowing there is a place to go when the doubts, questions or decisions surface and leave us with those niggling negative thoughts.
One of my affirmations this year is: ‘I am comfortable being in and with uncomfortable situations’. It’s proving to be a comforting thought as I move outside. And last night gave me a gargantuan portion of positive energy from being in a group of women. Having taken the courageous step outside of my comfort zone, I received a bucket load of support and feelings of security. Bingo!!!
The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of UNCERTAINTY you can comfortably live with. Tony Robbins
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