Choosing Courage Over Comfort. What Not Belonging Taught Me.
Like many, I adore Brene Brown – her words speak straight to my heart, like she is an old friend that just seems to know the right advice to offer, at the right time. Her profound words around vulnerability helped me immensely this month when I embarked on something that was way out of my comfort zone.
That’s the funny thing about comfort zones, they change, as we change. I hadn’t realized until I was pushed way out of mine, that I hadn’t been uncomfortable for many years.
I always prided myself on being a growth seeker and someone brave who led a life less travelled, seeking new experiences to add sparkle to my life. Yet since having babies four years ago, life changed from being about my quest to venture into the unknown to one of protecting my wellbeing after a major health crisis and looking after two beautiful baby girls and seeing them grow and thrive from new borns to toddlers.
‘it’s not what happens to us that matters but how we deal with what happens’
So this year, I decided that despite the global issues at hand and the huge economic uncertainty we faced with our physical Bali retreats grounding to a halt, I was going to make it my best year yet. I know only too well with the bumps I’ve had along the way over the past 12 years since starting retreats in Bali, that it’s not what happens to us that matters, but how we navigate those things. Being a bit of a rebel that doesn’t like to just accept the cards she’s been dealt, I (along with my husband) set about doing things that would not only allow our family to survive this crazy storm but truly thrive in the face of this adversity.
One of these things was to do a yoga teacher training over the month of July. When else would I have that gift of time to do something like that? What I didn’t recognize when I signed up was how vulnerable I would feel, how out of my comfort zone I would be and how my inner critic (the very thing I often coach on) would run rampant, leaving me full of doubt and worry and how my body would often flare up in pain with my old injuries.
The inner voices were unkind telling me what a terrible idea it was, how I didn’t belong as I was much older than many of the 20 something students on the yoga teacher training, how my yoga practice wasn’t good enough in comparison to so many that were advanced and already yoga teachers, and how my body wasn’t built for this intensive training nor did it look like what a yoga teacher was apparently supposed to look like!
‘my ego was triggering fear to protect me from growing’.
I drew on the lessons I learnt from Brene Brown how she spoke about fear and criticism always being there but to show up anyway and move forward. No matter what you’re doing, show up every day to do what you were meant to do and not allowing those emotions to stand in your way and shackle you with their perceived limits of what you deserved.
How the more you stand up to these negative forces, the more you’ll flex your courage and resilience muscles and come out stronger for it.
There were days especially in the first week where I had to dig deep. It was a conversation with my husband Trent that made me realise and recognise that it was all in my head, my ego was triggering fear to protect me from leaving my comfort zone.
I realised that I hadn’t been out of my comfort zone for so long and took one day at a time remembering this process well back in the days that I was living largely outside my comfort zone travelling the world solo and navigating setting up and growing a business in the third world where I knew noone. I remembered the amazing growth, self confidence and abundant offerings that came as a price for this work I was doing and so I kept showing up. I drew on my mirror work with my daily positive affirmations and my belief that what we focus on grows stronger, so I chose to focus on courage to navigate this.
And guess what happened? Each day, the fear, the doubt, the inner criticism and belief of not belonging, started to diminish, little bit by little bit.
By week two, slowly but surely, I realised all those judgements I had conjured up were not from anyone else other than myself. My fear, my judgement, my triggers, MY STUFF. So if they were born from me, then they could also end with me. I intentionally shed them setting fire to this negative narrative and let them go and just like a phoenix rising from the ashes my new identity emerged where I realised I DID belong here. I went from cowering in the back, hoping I wouldn’t get picked to lead a section of the yoga class, to hoping I would and embracing the opportunity for growth. What a radical change.
In everything that we do, fear and criticism will always be there to greet us. Fear is the greatest restrictive force, as it stops us from ever stepping more than one foot outside our comfort zone towards recognising and reaching our destiny and dreams.
When we are in a place of fear, it’s so difficult to grow. Scientifically, it activates the amygdala of the brain and stops us from making decisions that are right for us. The way through this is to focus on activating our courage, our confidence and our self belief. Positive affirmations, journaling and breath work were my saviours.
‘the benefits are not just reaching your goal but what you go on to achieve after’
The reward for pursuing your dreams despite the discomfort, is not only reaching your goal, but what you go on to achieve afterwards. As you shed the layers of yourself that were holding you back in the safety of your comfort zone, this new persona rises that wills you to create more confident choices and to really go after those things that you haven’t dared to.
We see this at our Bali retreat often. So many guests who are afraid of travelling solo, coming to a retreat on their own or learning to surf for the first time. Seeing these women conquer these fears and stick with their courage, then leads them to go after even bigger dreams in the face of their fears as the self belief they have gained was immense. They’ve smashed their comfort zone and as a result its shifted enabling them to believe in themselves, proving that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to. Over the years I’ve seen women then go onto have relationships of their dreams, starting their own businesses, moving countries on their own and other courageous things.
‘unless we test our limits, we can end up with a false ceiling that holds us back from experiencing the life we were destined for’
For me, its reminded me of who I was. Since I’ve completed my YTT, it activated a part of me that was dormant since my pre baby chapter. I forgot how incredible it felt to be so firmly present in my body, and outside of my head. Through doing so I’m sleeping even better, doing yoga twice a day, making healthier choices on what I choose to fuel my body, am much more social and my energy has increased hugely! Before I protected my energy believing I had certain limits which weren’t actually there (a hang over from my health crisis a few years ago). It’s true that whatever we tell ourselves, our brains will believe and unless we test our limits, we can end up with a false ceiling that holds us back from experiencing the life we were destined for.
‘the longer we stay in our comfort zone, the harder it is to break free from its shell.’
You see we all have the power within us to achieve our hearts desires. It’s up to us if we activate our courage and chase these or not. The comfort zone is easy and the longer we stay in it, the harder it is to break free from its shell.
We can travel this life accepting the things that happen to us as our path. This year, can be an amazing one of growth if we choose to allow it to be. If we minimise distractions and quieten the forces that work against us like smart device overuse, fear mongering media consumption and comparison with others ‘A reels’ on social media, we reduce overwhelm and free up space to focus on our own paths. No one will do it for us and it’s very easy to get to the end of the year writing it off as a bad one when the world came to a stand still. Or we can choose another path, one where we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and work out what’s truly important to us, where we want to be by this Christmas and follow our heart by taking action.
We are currently working with a wonderful group women who have also said yes to reclaiming their 2020 and making it the best year yet in our Inner Circle programme. It’s been wonderful seeing the transformations of these women and how far they have come through activating their courage. We’d love to help support you in creating an incredible 2020. Please reach out here if you’d like to find out more on how we can help you too.
Life isn’t supposed to be experienced from the side lines as it passes us by, but in the arena getting dirty, falling over, and having the courage to pick ourselves back up. That’s triumph, growth and where all the magic happens.
I’m forever grateful for this reminder of courage vs comfort from Brene in my time of need and know that this year, is shaping up to be the very best one yet. I hope it is for you too.
Escape Haven Founder