Leaving our comfort zones can be an uneasy feeling
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The body is amazing. It will let you know when it feels abused and disrespected. We don't always listen. We know very well the consequences of our food/beverage choices. Some of the signs are subtle and some are in your face waving a red flag. Sometimes it makes us change our habits.
Sometimes we are willing to take the risk. But we are not usually surprised to know that there are things we can consume that our body cannot tolerate digesting.
It is harder to make the connection when the source of our bodily distress is not what we ate but what we did or did not do. We don't recognize that we are comfort zone intolerant.
It is hard to recognize because it has the opposite effect on the body. While we are nestled deep in our comfort zone, totally at ease, the pangs of missed opportunity and regretful choices are like dull echoes. They are easy enough to ignore or bury under food or reality tv.
Not so when you decide to venture out of your comfort zone. Attempts at change result in chest pains and headaches. Contemplating uncharted territory leaves one feeling weak and queasy. The very thought of taking on a new challenge can leave you breathless and disoriented.
It is your spirit's way of telling your body to go for it. Rather than warning you away from these opportunities for greatness, your body is forcing you to push through your fear and laziness and inexperience and comfort to find your purpose and passion and drive and courage.
Each of us has a vision in our mind of who we think we are. We have a grasp on the image we want to project to the world. Some of us get close and some of us are so off the mark as to be delusional. All of us, however, know that deep down person we are. That person whom, all things being fair, equal and possible, is willing to do the things our heart desires and for which our spirit cries out.
Some of us try to ignore the signs our body sends us because it is hard work to claw your way out of your comfort zone. Some of us can live quite happily in our comfort zones. Some of us are so happy there, we live a long, full life of mediocrity and passivity. And that's fine. No one said a boring life can't be fulfilling. But if you are blessed to be able to look back on your life before you leave this plane of existence, do you want to remember growth or stagnation?
It is an age old question, after all. Another is what will we leave behind as our legacy. All life is intertwined. What I do, or don't do, can affect the lives of people I may never meet and have a tangible effect on those around me.
Conversely, I can draw inspiration from those who blasted through the walls of their comfort zone to achieve what some would call an impossible or foolish goal. Diana Nyad for instance. Her statement, that her achievement of swimming from Cuba to the Florida Keys was proof that you can go for your dreams no matter what your age, is on constant playback in the back of my mind.
In the forefront, however, is the image of my son breaking his second board with a jumping axe kick to secure his first-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He is eight. He's been working towards this goal since he was a little younger than four. When he started Tae Kwon Do, his coaches told him a black belt is just a white belt that didn't quit. He took those words to heart and ran with it.
To earn it, he had to execute almost 20 forms with at least 19 moves each plus defense moves plus, once he reached a certain level, sparring and board breaking. And he had to do this every three months in front of a room full of strangers. There were times when he was on the mat all alone.
As confident as he feels in his martial arts skills, he was not always comfortable when it came time to test. Yet he did it anyway because he had a goal from which he would not be dissuaded.
Who am I to stay in my comfort zone, content to push him on from within it's cozy walls? Who am I to tell him to go for it when I am allowing my secret dreams to not only go unfulfilled but unnamed?
The physical relief, and sometimes exhilaration, that one feels when venturing from the comfort zone into a new challenge makes it hard to accept living within the confines of a life that isn't you. You see the success of going on an elimination diet and cutting comfort from your self image. You become intolerant of living your life challenge-free. Your comfort zone will always be there to indulge your occasional craving, but your spirit won't let you forget the joy of the leaving your comfort behind to release your inner self.
- Mariel Blake writes a weekly column for The Daily News.