Move outside your comfort zone — at your own pace

“I’ve always believed that the pure of heart can go unharmed where others fear to tread.”

This is what Grace does when she gets overwhelmed -- snuggles in deep, nice and cozy within her comfort zone. Ever had one of those days?

That is a quote from a fellow blogger, Sara. She had written it months ago and at the time, I retyped it and taped it next to my monitor so I could read it often and be reminded of its message. To me, it was a way of saying that moving outside of your comfort zone can be invigorating rather than agonizing. When you are clear about something (pure of heart), then the choices become easy and you can move forward instead of keeping the status quo that you aren’t happy with. You can acknowledge your fear but you don’t have to be bound by it.

My last post was about how I don’t think we change our core personalities. Some people believe that, some don’t. No matter what side of the fence you fall on, we all know that there are times in our lives and in our work when we get stuck. When things seem overwhelming. When we feel we have no control or no way to get beyond the obstacle.

And sometimes when we reach that point, we give up and decide we have to live with the situation. We can get paralyzed from our fear, thinking we have no options.

For those who watch this occurring with a friend, a co-worker, or an employee we manage, it is excruciatingly difficult, especially when you just know there is an “easy” solution. Those outside see the situation objectively, but we don’t always have the entire picture. We’re coming from our own perspective and how we would handle it, which is different from the way that might be best for another person.

Giving a person support is often the best thing to do, but not always the easiest. We want to blurt out what we think and tell them how easy it would be if they only did what we told them. However, we have to keep in mind that what is easy for us might be very difficult for them.

One excellent approach is to help them think through options they have. All the options—even if they seem silly or unrealistic. For each of the options, talk through the potential ramifications. Explore questions such as, “If you did this, what would happen? Is that what you want? How would that affect you? Personally? Professionally?” If you are the manager, it’s important to be clear on the work-related impact. Ultimately, they have to own the answer for any solution in order for it to be long-lasting.

Trust me, this is not easy to do. Just yesterday as Grace and I were finishing our walk, a mother and her two young sons approached. The boys were about 5 and 7 years old and they were immediately drawn to Grace, wanting to gush happiness and hugs all over her with their energetic bodies. Grace couldn’t get in the car fast enough! She barked just once which wasn’t so bad for her. I explained to the boys that she was scared. And as many times as that type of situation has happened, I still found myself saying to Grace, “It’s ok!” because I’m fully aware that no danger exists. Yet in her mind, based on her experience, she was thinking: “How many times do I have to tell you that it’s NOT ok. Those kids could be mean to me and I don’t want any part of it.”

The words that Sara wrote were just a small part of why she inspired me. She has a love for animals and nature; she has had some interesting life events, but mostly I admired her intellect and depth in exploring all these things. She had recently mentioned that she was having a difficult week, then unexpectedly and without notice, she removed her blogs from viewing. It was out of character for her because she seemed to enjoy them so much. I miss her. I’d love to fix whatever may be an issue for her right now, but perhaps she’s taking a page from Grace’s book and finding comfort under the covers while she reflects on it all. I trust she will make decisions that are right for her, at the right time.

Sure, there are times we need to push someone for their own good. Like when you’re inside a burning building. But most of the time, we need to work with the other person’s schedule.

We’d all be wise to take Sara’s advice and find what’s pure in our heart. We’d also be wise to remember that the individual is the only one who knows when that happens. Being patient through that process will yield better results than pushing them faster than they are ready to go.

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9 comments

  1. LeeAnn says:

    I have read this three times and keep thinking about it. The picture of Grace is wonderful! I have really worked to identify my family and close friend’s comfort zones and it has helped me so much to understand them better – and to deepen our relationships. Rather than interpret behavior or responses as unkind or grumpy or something negative, I can now see that he or she is reacting that way because he/she is uncomfortable – and needs compassion, not judgment. So sorry to hear about Sara and hope all is ok!

    • I love it when someone hears a message and then articulates it better than I can — which is what you’ve accomplished. Being compassionate is the point and thank you for bringing it to the surface! I do love having you here, LeeAnn! Thanks for your words about Sara, I hope she is ok, too.

  2. I hope your friend, Sara, returns. I’ve never had a blogging friend just vanish but have often wondered about the why’s and wherefore’s if it did happen.

    As always, lots to think about, Robin. I can empathise with Gracie, I know the feeling!

    • I think your point about not knowing if often what is so hard in many of our “ordinary” communications, Sue. Even when we think we know, we don’t always know what the other person is thinking or processing, so as LeeAnn pointed out in her comment, being compassionate and non-judgment goes a long way. Thanks for your words about Sara.

  3. Kas says:

    This is a great, great post and I can relate so much to it with our dogs, Diesel in particular, and their fears. Sometimes I too have to just take them away from the situation, and remember not to push them, even if everything “is ok”. It takes patience and consistency and knowledge and awareness to work with fear issues, and Grace is so lucky that you understand where she is coming from and what to do when 🙂

    • Thanks, Kas. It has definitely been a process and I still feel like I’m learning. But if you happen to remember that post I did a while back about her nails (she terrified if I get close to them with a clipper so I take her to the vet to have them done, but occasionally I find my courage to try again), well, today, she left me cut the very first one! I was so happy!

  4. Sara says:

    wow! very interesting and the irony of it. wow. Thank you for this post. I like the way you describe pure of heart as being clear of mind and intent. Once a mind is made up, it naturaly sees only it’s goal and the things which might have been an obstacle, are not even seen at all. Obstacles loose their power.
    Grace looks so cute under the pillow. Sometimes I wish we had powers to shrink ourselves down to pet size, just to do things like squish under a single pillow or lay our entire bodies across a loved ones lap.

  5. Robin says:

    Being pure of heart is a powerful place to be, I believe. And the idea of shrinking ourselves down to pet size sounds so fun! Imagine the things we could do! Thanks for being here, Sara.

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