As published in the Huffington Post, April 14, 2015
I stand on my head because I can. Every time I turn myself upside down I find my balance — literally and figuratively. That’s when I take center stage in my life. That’s when I’m living my experience in the present with full consciousness and intention.
I have a disclosure to make: I’m a yoga and meditation teacher so standing on my head is my business as well as my passion. However, turning myself upside down is also the way I forge my life, leave my comfort zone and do something that scares me. It seems paradoxical, but living with uncertainty has some positive benefits.
Dr. Brene Brown has spoken and written extensively about “daring greatly” in life. In fact, that is the name of her best selling book — Daring Greatly. She has a profound understanding about how to meet your fears with courage. She suggests walking past uncertainty by letting go of self-interests. This is a path to increased happiness and well-being.
When you choose to leave your comfort zone, there is always some degree of fear. However, some degree of fear is healthy to stimulate action. Don’t forget that fear is also your body’s built-in defense mechanism that keeps you safe from harm. Everyone handles fear differently but momentum and control are the two most important twin engines that grow and transform your life.
Here are five simple ways to leave your comfort zone and push through fear when you your literal world turns upside down.
1. Leave Your Comfort Zone by Moving in Increments
Whenever you leave your comfort zone, the first response is to try to get away from a possibly fearful situation. It’s human nature. Rarely does someone go full force into a situation that is strange or scary. When pushing through fear, it is beneficial to move forward with one or two small intentions. Write the intention(s) down or say it out loud. Remember that you need only to hold onto the intention for today; you don’t need to make this intention part of your life forever. This requires a lot of patience, practice and perseverance. Remember that repetition is the key to mastery. Be kind to yourself and know that there is no such thing as failure. There are only opportunities and possibilities.
2. Leave Your Comfort Zone and be Comfortable with your Vulnerability
To be vulnerable is to be openly emotional honest. And sometimes that’s a scary place to be because you may be subject to ridicule, criticism or indifference. When you are hurt, you put up defensive barriers. However, if you are able to identify your feelings consciously, you might find that acknowledging your vulnerability will open you up to new and exciting ideas that will help you push through fear.
3. Leave Your Comfort Zone and Let Go of Distractions
When your life seems to be controlled by the distractions in your life, it is fairly certain that you will never leave your comfort zone or push through your fears. These counter-intuitive distractions get in the way of abundance, fulfillment, balance, energy and direction. Consider the piles of electronic gadgets, the people, places and things in your environment that get in the way of your happiness, and the mindless messages from the culture that clutter the mind, confuse you, overwhelm you and stop you from making great decisions instead of meeting dead ends.
4. Leave Your Comfort Zone and Embrace Change
No one likes change and that’s the reason most people stay confidently in their comfort zone. You don’t have to extend yourself, reach out, take a risk, make a mistake or act on a new idea. Your fears are protected by your resistance. Resistance sits on your shoulder waiting to say No. This is a prescription for not excelling, growing or transforming your life. Make daily intentions to defeat resistance. The easier you adapt to change, the happier your life.
5. Leave Your Comfort Zone and Give Up Your Crutches
Abu Said, a famous 14th Sufi poet in the Persian Empire wrote: Take one step away from yourself — and lo behold! — the path. This Sufi poet is advising you to get out of the way of yourself so you can see your life more clearly and with confidence instead of walking on crutches. I call this the 10 percent solution. In order to leave your comfort zone and push through your fears, detach 10 percent from the situation that causes you discomfort. Usually, you are 100 percent emotionally invested and you lose objectivity, distort perspective, or miss the obvious benefits or drawbacks. Take away the crutches and see what happens.
You may not feel the need to stand on your head to leave your comfort zone, but I encourage you to be aware of the opportunities and possibilities that come your way. I challenge you to take risks, make glorious mistakes and plenty of leaps of faith.