Some of us, on purpose or by accident, might find ourselves facing a fear of extraordinary proportion. Instead of jumping to one slightly bigger circle, we’ve jumped 3 circles ahead.
A wonderful example is from one of my seminars I was teaching… There was a lady who suffered greatly from social anxiety and she was on medication for this. Logically she understood the idea of breaking through her comfort zone, but like most of us, putting it into practice was a different matter altogether.
After all, facing fear is terrifying, an obvious fact we often forget. I was talking to her about the idea of what it would be like if she were to just go outside and lie down on the sidewalk and not talk to anyone. We spoke and laughed together about how great that would be, coming out of her comfort zone etc. But what she didn’t expect was when I said “ok, that’s exactly what we’re going to do!”.
What do you think happened next? It wasn’t a logical idea anymore, it became reality for her. At first she was terrified, the amygdala in her limbic system (emotional mind) kicked in and suddenly she started feeling fear. “What if people laugh at me?” “People will think I’m being silly”… and suddenly this wave of excuses came out as to why she couldn’t do it and why it would be a bad idea.
The amygdala can’t make us do anything that we don’t want to do, but it can offer some marvellous propaganda. Even though she knew logically what was happening (as we’d been talking about the emotional mind in the seminar) this of course didn’t make the fear less severe, it was still very real to her.
Eventually she was persuaded and at one point she was laid down on the sidewalk and stayed, even once I’d left her there. Within 10 seconds of her lying down something spectacular had happened, she realised it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as she’d imagined. She actually found it really comfortable.
All that fear was self-imposed, and she broke through that. I found out the next day that she gave up her medication for social anxiety, something she’d been wanting to do for a while. By confronting an extreme fear that took her completely out of the comfort zone, A by-product was made that meant she was able to complete another incredible feat overnight.
Another way to think about it is like this: The speed of my growth is dependent on my frequency and willingness to experience discomfort. You can see why courage is one of the greatest muscles we have, to increase our overall strength as a person.