Practicing yoga is doing a lot to take me out of my comfort zone. The other day one of my fellow yogi’s said she noticed that I had moved from the back to the front of the room and then she read my blog about the experience. We discussed how my fear had kept me at the back of the room; the lack of confidence in my practice, the concern that others would make fun of my ability, the desire to blend into the woodwork. We also talked about how once I let go of those fears and made the physical shift within the room, my practice improved because I could now do it without all the mental blocks. In the end, it was better moving out of what I thought was my comfort zone, into a space that truly served me.
As I began working up to a headstand, I had a similar experience. The fears and beliefs I had in my ability, held me back mentally and physically. My old thoughts and beliefs kept my legs planted and stuck. Through help and practice I am now close to doing a headstand on my own. What changed? I began to believe I could do it. I released my old story of negative self-image and any thoughts of “I can’t.” The experience was night and day. My first attempt with all my restricting beliefs increased the weight of my legs ten-fold and made it feel like magnets where locking my feet to the floor. My most recent attempt my legs floated into the air like feathers. I still needed a little spotting, but for the most part my legs just went where I directed them. What changed?
On the physical level, I have been building my core and learning how my core, not my legs are the power of the move. But what I needed to do first, before I could even have the mental space to allow myself to work on my physical ability, was to shift my mind.
First, I had to release what was, what I believed was the truth, and what I experienced in the past. How many times do we keep ourselves stuck in old ways of being, simply by believing what happened before will happen again? The first step to making a change or trying something new is to release all that we learned from the past which holds us back. In releasing this we now have the power to make baby-steps toward our goal.
The next challenge is the process of trying, learning, failing, and trying again. Especially in our instant gratification society, we may expect things to change overnight. Sorry, that’s not usually the case. More commonly it is a journey to get where we want to go. It is during this two-steps-forward-and-one-step-back phase that I find myself the most challenged. Being a perfectionist, I am always on the lookout for what I am doing wrong. Making judgements if things are not quite right. Putting myself down for not getting there fast enough. It is during this phase that it is important to focus on the minor accomplishments, not being focused on the ultimate goal or the setbacks. This is similar to what I tell job seekers. They are usually focused on and disappointed because they have not yet landed their dream job. They focus on what they messed up in their interview, instead of seeing all they did to get the interview or focusing on the lessons from the experience. I change their focus to celebrating their efforts – improving their resume, networking, following up, and learning. It is in these small efforts that they continue to move forward, and hopefully, now that they are celebrating the efforts, the process is also more enjoyable, or at least not constantly stressful.
Once I make it to my goal, I am always amazed on how it is much better on the other side. All of my fears of what would happen, how I would mess up, or who would be upset, are dissolved. I wonder why I didn’t do it sooner. I see how my fears kept me from moving into a space that is much better for me.
Where do you feel stuck? What do you want to change or accomplish, but feel like it is impossible? How are your fears of change creating reasons you shouldn’t even try? Reframe your thoughts so they support your goals. Celebrate your efforts and accomplishments along the way. Then accept and embrace your newly found space. You will find it better outside of your comfort zone.