Of course, it’s the most challenging things in life that reap the greatest rewards. While it feels almost impossible to see that while you’re experiencing a challenge; it is in these times we can learn the most about ourselves and our life path.
I remember 4, even 5 years ago when I was experiencing was I thought was the hardest time of my life. I felt that I was losing everything I held so close to me. I refused to believe that things could get better at any capacity. I chose not to explore the thought that this loss only was only going to open the door to something greater for me. “This is my life” I thought, “This is how it has to be”. And honestly, I’ve never been more happy to be wrong in my entire life. 5 years ago, if you told me that 5 years later I’d be working my dream job, travelling to places I’d only dreamt of, and loving myself more than ever I definitely wouldn’t have believed you. I had no idea that if I chose to turn my challenges into lessons to learn from, I’d grow. That’s 100% okay because well, you don’t know what you don’t know. So I’m here to share this with you – to plant even the tiniest portion of faith to help you understand that you will grow from whatever it is you’re going through, or as I like to say, growing through 😉
Challenges are uncomfortable. Change is uncomfortable. Going through something you never would have imagined, something that feels like the end of the world is hella uncomfortable. There’s no denying the pain, the sadness, the hurt, or the discomfort. This is all so normal. Where the growth happens, or lack of – lies in how we choose to respond to these situations.
Think about this question in relation to your outlook on life; feel free to share your thoughts on this in the comments below – I’m curious what this means to you.
Does life happen to you, or for you?
Now, I sure can’t speak for everyone but I’m going to speak on the outlook that life happens for you.
A fun game us humans love to play is what I consider to be the game of “what if’s”, and it often looks a little like this:
We have a spark of inspiration, an idea, an opportunity or situation for something in our life. It could either be good or not so good, but somewhere in our following trail of thoughts lies a “what if”. “what if this goes wrong?” “what if I lose?” “what if I look silly?” “what if people judge me?”
This game in particular is almost ALWAYS in alignment with every possible thing that we think could be bad or wrong. This is super interesting to take note of because if you think about it, why do we play this game in support of the worst? Of course it’s good to be aware of possibilities in the cases where safety is concerned, but for the most part we’re just spending more time sending stress signals throughout our body to support possible scenarios.
This awareness is what can make this game much more fun, and eliminate those unnecessary stress signals. Flip the switch to the possible GOOD, EXCITING, and POSITIVE things that could happen instead. When we are in support of the good possibilities, this is what’s more likely to happen. It’s important to note that your ego L O V E S to be right. It will search for any tiny piece of information in order to support your beliefs. So if you genuinely believe something bad is going to happen, the chances of that do increase. If you genuinely believe that no matter what happens, it will be a positive outcome (even if it doesn’t work out the way you imagined) you still learned a valuable lesson and there’s still very much good to come from that. I don’t know about you, but to me this positive what if games sounds much more fun. This opens the door to learning the lessons that we are faced with outside of our comfort zone.
Why Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone is the Greatest Teacher
Here’s the real piece of gold, and it’s actually very simple. So I’m going to keep this part short and sweet; self awareness, self growth, and self love are only as simple, or as complicated as you make them.
No matter what happens in life, there is always always always something to learn from it.
When you are inside of your comfort zone, there’s not much adversity – you can kind of predict what the day to day will be, life often feels like the same old. You’re in a routine you’re content with, it might not feel awful but it also might not feel all that amazing. You’re just kind of coasting through your days.
Outside of your comfort zone is where the real beautiful chaos comes to play. You are faced with adversity; you must come face to face with the unknown. This is so hard when you’re used to living life how you know it to be, I hear you. This brings me back again to 5 years ago – if you were to ask me to do something seemingly risky or unknown to what was familiar to me, you’d probably get a heck no from me. But deep down, I really wasn’t content with this as much as I tried to convince myself I was. I felt safe & comfortable, why in the world would I disrupt what I thought to be peaceful? But if you think about it, what could I possibly learn from the same old? Honestly the answer is not very much. And this is why stepping out of your comfort zone can be the absolute greatest teacher.
You are faced with situations that are unfamiliar – you have so much room to learn and discover a new way of being. While yes this can be scary – what do you have to lose? Is this potential negative possibility greater than what you could gain?
9 times out of 10 what you have to gain is always greater. Always.
To put this into perspective, consider a situation that you find yourself wishing for but the thought of actually doing it scares the absolute F out of you. If you were to make a list of allll the things you feel you might lost, and also make a list of allll you would gain from the experience; which one outweighs the other? *note: it’s very important to consider what responses are based on your beliefs (again, what your ego puts in place to ‘keep you safe’) and what responses are absolute facts.
For example, if you’ve always dreamed to go explore around Europe or somewhere for a bit – you find yourself dreaming about it often, and you constantly think “hmm that would be nice” but if you had the opportunity to go you’d be a but hesitant. You decide to make a list, and it might look a little like this:
Cons: it might cost a bit more than you’d like to spend, you’d be leaving your home/home town for a bit, you’d have to miss some at home experiences, you’re uneasy about flying, you’re unsure about travel.
Pros: you’re living your dream, you are going to learn so much about a piece of the world, you’re going to see sights you’ve only ever seen in photos on the internet, you’ll make memories that you just can’t put a price on, you’ll be telling this story for years.
Consider in this list what would be based on a belief, versus what would be a fact. Let’s take “you’re unsure about travel” as an example. Sure you may not have very much experience with it, or you don’t really know how to get around especially in a foreign environment – but this experience is exactly how you’re going to figure it out. That in itself is a HUGE lesson that you might be choosing to see as a reason to stay back.
When you give yourself the chance to learn, the lessons you’ll be faced with will be more valuable than anything you can read, watch, or listen to in a lecture hall or on the internet.
It’s important to note too that things are going to go “wrong”. Not everything is sunshine and rainbows. Like say you choose to embark on this journey around Europe if that were your absolute dream. You’re going to be faced with adverse situations; you may miss a flight, a train, you may get lost in the bus system, you may not enjoy the food very much. But you will always learn something from this. Choose to enjoy it, the good and the bad. When you can accept that things will go wrong, it is SO much easier to learn from them and move on.
Remember, there is a lesson in absolutely every situation you experience or are faced with in life.
When you can approach life with the understanding that life happens for you, you’re able to take these lessons and run with them, to help propel you forward. You will grow from them. And when the next adverse situation presents itself, or you feel things are going wrong – you’ll be able to take these lessons you’ve preciously learned and apply them to help love yourself through them.
Give yourself the compassion you’d give to a loved one if they were in a hard time. Take the advice you’d give to them. Often the advice we give, is the advice we need to hear ourselves the most.
A good way to become more aware of these patterns in regards to your comfort zone is through reflective journaling. I have a post on that here which goes much more in-depth and provides some tangible questions and strategies for yourself to explore. I definitely recommend to take a look if you need some further inspiration to guide your journey.
Remember, it’s NEVER as scary as your lovely, imaginative mind can try to convince you. Make a list, take the leap, and discover what you can learn.
As always, you got this