Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

By Mary Boutieller

Being uncomfortable in small, controlled situations can enable us to better handle the big events in life.

Here we are, celebrating this wonderful community, as we approach the coming winter months. For some of you, winter is a welcome time of year. There is a magic to it that isn’t experienced at any other time. There’s cold weather, crisp blue skies, skiing, etc. And while I don’t mind being outside in the chilly frost of winter, it’s not my ideal. A day…maybe a week…but month after month, no thank you! Needless to say, I’m more comfortable living in temperate weather.

The idea of being comfortable vs. uncomfortable has been coming up for me a lot lately. Recently, I watched a podcast on the “amazing” benefits of taking a cold shower each day and how it could change your whole life! I lasted three days and did not like it one bit; yet, I haven’t given up on the idea and often think about it…when I’m not in the shower. I also went on a bike ride a few weeks ago, cycling 264 miles in seven days without a lot of training beforehand. And yes, I was uncomfortable…uncomfortable and yet oddly exhilarated, all at the same time! And, I have a friend and fellow yogi, who, upon retiring, has been trying all kinds of new things—ikebana, weaving, painting, just to name a few. She sent me an email and told me how happy she was, and she also said this:

“I grew up as a perfectionist, too. So I’m trying to expand in the field of feeling a little uncomfortable in order to face my inner fears and grow and be free!!!”

As a fellow former perfectionist, I could relate to her, oh so well. Growing up, my fear of failing—of not being enough—often outweighed my desire to put myself out there, try new things and move outside my comfort zone. I stuck with what I knew I could do well, and left the rest behind. I played it safe, stuck to the rules, and didn’t move too far from center. I’m not sure at what point that shifted, but thank goodness it did. The spark inside ignited, and I haven’t looked back. And sometimes, it’s really uncomfortable!

Katie Couric said, “Be fearless. Have the courage to take risks. Go where there are no guarantees. Get out of your comfort zone even if it means being uncomfortable. The road less traveled is sometimes fraught with barricades, bumps and uncharted terrain. But it is on that road where your character is truly tested. And have the courage to accept that you’re not perfect, nothing is and nobody is—and that’s OK.”

The podcast about cold showers suggested that being uncomfortable in small, controlled situations would enable us to better handle the big events in life, and that the more we put ourselves in uncomfortable situations, the easier it would be to handle all that life throws our way. And, if we are being honest, life isn’t comfortable or easy all the time, and I’m not sure it should be. There are taxes and death, injury and illness, hard conversations and numerous let-downs of all manner and size. And, weirdly, that’s not all bad news. These events help us grow, teach us vital lessons, push our boundaries and buttons, and let us know that we are alive and have something to learn. We learn that we will survive, intact, and be able to move forward. We learn that growing older is not the awful thing advertisers would have us believe. We give ourselves permission to get into the nitty-gritty, surprising beauty of a life lived. When we push just a little bit, we get rewards that are ten-fold the effort put into it. When we say “Yes, sure, I’ll try it”—even hesitantly, we will discover a resilience and strength that we didn’t know existed. And we will find that, with all our warts and wrinkles, we are pretty awesome human beings.

Olympic Gold Medalist Kristin Armstrong said, “I want to get more comfortable being uncomfortable. I want to get more confident being uncertain. I don’t want to shrink back just because something isn’t easy. I want to push back, and make more room in the area between I can’t and I can.”

Where that area is for you is as unique as you are. Maybe it’s speaking your truth even if you feel nervous about it. Maybe it’s walking a extra few blocks, even if it is too warm or too cold outside. Maybe it is trying something new, even if you think you might fail. What if we simply were to try “it” on for size and give it a good, long look. If it doesn’t fit who you are, smile at the attempt and move on to something else. One step, one day, one uncomfortable, exhilarating moment at a time.

There are many things I don’t quite have the nerve to try, at least not yet. But when I’m considering what to do next, I’m reminded of this question: “At the end of our lives, will we most regret the things we did or didn’t try to do?”

In gratitude to all of you for traveling this road with me. Be well, be happy, be you!

Mary Boutieller is a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance. She has been teaching yoga since 2005. Her work experience includes 22 years as a firefighter/paramedic and 10 years as a Licensed Massage Therapist. Mary’s knowledge and experience give her a well-rounded understanding of anatomy, alignment, health and movement in the body. She is passionate about the benefits of yoga and the ability to heal at all levels through awareness, compassion, and a willingness to explore. She can be reached at:

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