Treat Yourself on Halloween

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

Candy Corn or Courage? 

I’m not talking about candy corn (one of my favorites) or candy apples (too sticky) or even cider and donuts when I suggest that you should treat yourself on Halloween this year. 

I’m talking about giving yourself the treat (the gift) of strength, courage, and confidence. I am talking about joining me on The Seven-Week Comfort Zone Challenge which will start in a week, on Halloween. (It’s free!) Can you commit to doing one thing over seven weeks that gets you out of your comfort zone - out of one of your comfort zones? We have many because of all the different aspects of our lives. I’m asking you to try one thing! I’m talking about doing something, outside of your comfort zone that might be described as “difficult” “anxiety-producing” “awkward” “potentially embarrassing” or merely, “uncomfortable!” There are lots of things that scare us and different things are scary to different people. 

Before we continue…what’s a Comfort Zone?

Here are some synonyms: (Pay attention to how you feel when you read these words)

  • Safe place
  • Comfortable situation
  • Safe haven
  • Refuge
  • Controllable situation
  • Happy place
  • Familiar situation
  • Sanctuary
  • Shelter
  • Stress-free situation
  • Predictable situation

Ah…just reading them makes me feel good. I want to go brew a cup of chamomile tea, find a book and my cashmere throw, and go sit in front of a crackling and cheery fire. Soothing. Cozy.  A comfort zone can be very calming - and possibly just the thing that we need now as the world seems to be tipping over a dangerous precipice. 

Clearly, Comfort Zones have lots going for them. There is nothing wrong with hanging out in a comfort zone - It’s good to visit them. (They can be seductive though. They can turn into “a rut” and we don’t want to get stuck in one of those!) 

“So why would I ever leave my comfort zone?”

If you want to (really) live, you have to leave!

Why, indeed? Because Life calls to us at different times. It can be a nudge, an intuitive hit, or a wake-up call. Life (or…your soul? Your higher self? The universe? God? Something greater?) calls to us to take action about something because something needs to change in us, in our lives. Often that means leaving a “place” that’s one of those words, above, a place where you feel cozy, happy, and safe.

Life wants us to grow, to evolve and we do that by challenging ourselves, not by keeping safe. 

I know…ugh. But it’s not necessarily ugh. We’ll be traveling for seven weeks together. You won’t be alone. And you get to choose how far you want to stretch outside of your comfort zones. You may take a giant step or a medium step or a baby step. It’s up to you.

May I? 

Yes, you may.

But maybe you’re reading this and thinking, “I’m not getting a call!” Life’s not asking me squat. Then, so be it. Stay where you are and it’s OK. Go find your happy place.

But if you’re reading this and thinking, “Hmmm, I’ve been having this feeling for months (years?) now that I should be ________” then maybe an adventure outside of your comfort zone (either big or small) is in your future.

Are you Miss Independent? 

For some of you leaving a comfort zone to make a change may be no big deal. Maybe you flirt with danger, take risks, up the ante, and walk fearlessly into the unknown on a regular basis. Yes, I know there are those of you who will say, “Yep, that’s me.”

 I’ll bet those of you who resonate with this particular type of courage had parents or some mentor who encouraged you to explore and take chances. Vanity Fair’s article about Katharine Hepburn: Miss Independent: Katharine Hepburn’s Obsessive Originality by Hadley Hall Meares, quotes from Hepburn’s autobiography, Me: Stories of My Life:  

“There was a hemlock tree on the west side of the property,” she recalls. “That was the tree I used to climb. The neighbors used to call Mother. ‘Kit! Kathy is in the top of the hemlock!’ ‘Yes, I know. Don’t scare her. She doesn’t know that it’s dangerous.’”

But then there’s the rest of us. There are those of us, like me, who don’t leave our comfort zones easily. I was fearful of a lot of things when I was young. A lot of things. I was raised under a persistent “be careful” admonishment which translates in a young child’s mind as “the world is a scary place.” My parents didn’t even slightly resemble Katharine’s!

Maybe this is how you feel when leaving a comfort zone in your life. These are some of the antonyms to “comfort zone.” 

  • Danger zone
  • Discomfort situation
  • Uncharted waters
  • New situation
  • Uncontrollable situation
  • Difficult situation 
  • Apprehension
  • Disquiet
  • Consternation
  • Awkward situation
  • Dread
  • Fear
  • Fright

Yikes! It usually doesn’t feel good at first but eventually, eventually it pays off. When I look back on my “zone leavings” (Otherwise known as answering a call to go on a Heroine’s Journey) I’m grateful that I did it, as hard as they might have been, like:

  • Leaving my first marriage
  • Leaving my 12-year-old corporate job
  • Leaving a business that had outrun its time
  • Leaving a family summer cottage that became unsupportable
  • Leaving the band

Those are all big leavings. There were many smaller ones - and that’s the point. This seven-week challenge is meant to be a practice run. I want you to try out doing something different, making a change - whatever will take you outside of the norm of where you typically “live.” It will be a mini-adventure.

Go ahead, scare yourself!

I’m asking you to never mind scaring other people on Halloween. I want you to scare yourself!…a bit!

What you will get is increased confidence. A sense of – OK, then, I did it. Good for me!

A feeling of accomplishment.

And maybe, a sense of – hmmm what else can I do now that I’ve done that?

A feeling of possibility!

What is it you’ve done that you can look back and say, I started off apprehensive  – afraid, even  - and the more I did it, the easier it was for me?

See, you’ve already left your comfort zone and survived! (I ask you to remember those times in the Challenge email for week two. 

What I’ve Learned 

What have I learned from my stretching “outside” practice:

If it’s new to you – if you haven’t tried it before – there may be some pangs of fear at the start. 

Whatever it is you’re trying - You can practice and get better at it.

In time you will be more comfortable with whatever it is.

Most likely it will be well worth the time you spent getting better at it. 

It will help you try other things, too. It will give you confidence.

The psychologist, Amy Bucher writes, doing some scary can “inspire exceptional outcomes…just as there seems to be an optimal level of stress for growth and learning, a certain amount of fear can lead to high performance. Fear signals there’s something of consequence on the line, a reason to exert effort.” 

We all know people who give up immediately when trying something new…for different reasons but often don’t want to look stupid. They make a few mistakes and decide it’s impossible and/or their fear just gets too great to continue. Or maybe they just love staying inside their comfort zone. 

A couple of qualifiers: 

Sometimes fear is a really good thing – it keeps you from doing something that could hurt you.

Fear is very subjective – we’re not all afraid of the same things. So comparing is useless. “Johnny isn’t afraid of diving off that ledge so I shouldn’t be.” 

You don’t know the lead-up that Johnny had. Maybe he’s been practicing jumping off things a lot all his life. He has a different history with it than you. 

Also, phobias are a different story. I think if you have a phobia of spiders then playing with one every day isn’t necessarily the best approach – or maybe it is – I’m not a psychologist.

Here’s the entirety of Eleanor’s quote:

“Fear has always seemed to me to be the worst stumbling block which anyone has to face. It is the great crippler. Looking back, it strikes me that my childhood and my early youth were one long battle against fear.”

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.

You are able to say to yourself, “I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”

The danger lies in refusing to face the fear, in not daring to come to grips with it. If you fail anywhere along the line it will take away your confidence. You must make yourself succeed every time. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

What’s the worst that can happen?

Maybe ask yourself…What’s the worst that can happen? 

I know if you do this you will gain the confidence that comes from finally doing something that you initially thought was hard to do or even impossible to do. Join me on Oct 31 – just sign up on my website for the 7-week challenge – you will have two introductory emails, then you’ll be asked – 

What do YOU want to do that will take you outside of your comfort zone?

And then you’ll be on the road to more strength, courage, and confidence…which, by the way, is the Heroine’s Journey!

And that to me is a lot better than candy!!!