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What Happens When You Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone?

Rebecca’s Photo of Her Mother Lee Climbing to Do the Zipline

Earlier this month, Rebecca’s mother, Lee, visited Miraval, the Arizona resort where Rebecca is an art therapy specialist and wellness counselor.  After a day of rest, Lee decided to “stretch” herself by trying out some activities that were outside of her “box”.  For the next couple of days, she participated in a ceremony using gently sounding brass Tibetan bowls, then a gratitude meditation, a lecture on mindfulness, a rigorous fitness training, etc..

Having thus expanded her comfort zone, when she was invited to do twilight Zipline by manager of the Outdoor Challenge Department, she said “What the heck, why not?!”  At the time, she didn’t realize that not only would she be jumping off of a 45-foot high platform, but that she would have to climb up it as well!

When we gathered with the other guests who were also doing the Zipline, a highly dubious woman whose friend had dragged her there pointed to Lee and said “I just want to see her do it.”   Lee, who up until that point had been considering dropping out of of the event altogether, defiantly said to herself, “I’ll show her!”

Lee was the first person to make the 45-foot hike up the pole.  Even with a harness for support, it was clear that it was a difficult climb-each step required a hefty pull.   At one point, she paused, panting for breath and anxiously trying to keep her footing.  She considered giving up.  But then, despite her trembling limbs, she became driven to prove to herself, not even the other “doubters” below, that she could do it.

Lee was able to make it to the top.  Looking down, she reflected that at the beginning she had been utterly convinced that she could not make it up the pole.  But she did!  And when it was time for the main event-riding the zipline down to the ground-Lee was relaxed and willing.

Lee was able to make it to the top.  Looking down, she reflected that at the beginning she had been utterly convinced that she could not make it up the pole.  But she did!  And when it was time for the main event-riding the Zipline down to the ground-Lee was relaxed and willing.

When the time came to go down the Zipline, Lee and Rebecca were lined up together to jump in tandem off of the platform.  They agreed that they would count from 3 to 1 together and then jump.  However, when the countdown came, Rebecca was overcome by her fear of heights and froze.  She looked over to her mother in time to see that Lee had closed her eyes and was hopping off with a “here’s-to-nothing!” shrug.  Rebecca was so surprised that her mother jumped without her that, shouting in disbelief “What the Hell?!”, she leapt off to catch up.

Both Rebecca and Lee were rewarded for their daring with the exhilarating rush of flying through the desert sky in the twilight. (If you look in the photograph above you can just see the moon rising behind the mountain).  At the end of the adventure, when everyone shared about their experience, Lee voiced that she had been struck by the realization that, when she needed it, she had a reserve of strength that she hadn’t really known she had.

What she didn’t realize was how much she’d motivated the other people there.  As other people shared, almost everyone one of them voiced how much her fearless persistence had inspired them to proceed.

Rebecca’s realization-for better or worse-was that she was much more likely to take a risk if she wasn’t focused on herself.

We invite you to share with us on our Facebook page a time when you took a risk or you stepped out of your of comfort (perhaps off of a platform onto a Zipline?) and what you learned from the experience.

Our handout this month is one on Optimizing Strengths. Click here to get that download.

Positively yours, Rebecca and Gioia

Art Activity
We were torn about what suggestion best served this newsletter so we give you a couple of options.
  1. Trite as it might sound, try something new and different.  We all know it can be beneficial to step outside our comfort zone.  What would that mean for you?  If you want to use art as the vehicle for this experiment, pick an art medium that you would normally avoid using, (e.g., watercolor, clay, markers, etc.) and play around with it.  See what that is like and what artwork comes out of it, pretty or not.
  2.  Sketch a box and doodle inside the box simple symbols for things that you’re comfortable doing.  Outside the box, put things that feel like they are outside your comfort zone.  Is there a difference between the two?  Write about or share with someone your observations.