Do you have a comfortable routine in your life? Are you shaping your daily life around familiar habits and experiences that are almost hard-wired in your brain?
Maybe it’s time to shake up some of your routines and push outside your comfort zone.
Shake It Up!
It’s not always easy or comfortable pushing outside my comfort zone. But when I manage to do it, I’m almost always glad I did.
Except for some occasional trips and photography workshops I’ve been living happily inside my comfort zone for some time.
Recently I’ve had a couple of events that have pushed me outside my comfort zone.
I had strong negative responses to both events. Both caused me to lose sleep, experience higher pain levels, as well as triggering strong emotional responses inside me.
I tend to push such experiences away and do everything I can to get back into my comfortable routines as quickly as possible. But sometimes the situation I am in is one I cannot escape from.
Those situations are juicy learning opportunities, even if they feel kind of crappy while you are in them.
I have learned to appreciate the kind of experiences which push me into my “discomfort zone” for periods of time because I always learn something about myself when I stay put and allow myself to feel whatever it is I am feeling without judgment.
If the event ends too soon, I don’t learn much because I react with my usual reactions and don’t have time to slow down and pay close attention to my internal chatter and emotional landscape.
But when the uncomfortable event lasts for long enough and the only way out is through, I find I learn so much about myself.
My meditation practice has helped me to recognize the strong responses I experience as aversion (for things I don’t want to experience) and clinging (to things I want to experience). It has also given me tools that sometimes help me to stay present and open to whatever is occurring, noticing how thoughts and emotions move through me moment to moment.
I recently read Tara Brach’s book, True Refuge, and found that she had many suggestions on working with uncomfortable emotions and responses. One of the suggestions she made was, saying to yourself, “I consent to this,” each time an aversive thought or emotion arises.
I’ve tried it and sometimes it is helpful. Other times it is maddening. A part of my mind wants to scream, “Are you crazy??? Why the hell would I consent to this?”
I am in the middle of a life event change that is challenging and wonderful at the same time (family is moving from far away to very near us) and life hasn’t yet reached a new “normal.” My quiet self-absorbed routines are getting shaken up.
And it is good that they are.
Once I got jarred out of my sedate routine and into a more active routine, I find I am liking it. I’m getting more focused on using my time well and I get to learn new things from my grandkids, daughter and son-in-law.
I am grateful to my family for shaking it up!
When was the last time you deliberately stepped outside your comfort zone? What did you learn about yourself?
May you walk in beauty.