The Story of Stretching My Comfort Zone

by Nicole Paull

For years, I was very content with the fact that I was never again going to fly in an airplane. In fact, I was so content that I couldn’t imagine not being content with it.

If asked, I could point with triumphant emphasis to a particularly harrowing flight, the memory of which remained undimmed years later and say, “Never again. No way. No how. Don’t even ask me!”

Then something happened.

I really wanted to attend a business retreat with the fabulous Anastacia Brice in Minneapolis and my planned traveling companions needed to cancel. (We were going to drive and sight see along the way.) I enjoy a road trip, but I didn’t want to drive all by myself from Massachusetts to Minneapolis, which would involve twenty-four hours behind the wheel, best case scenario. A flight would take less than three hours. It was the practical solution.

So, heart in throat, I booked it.

Now, just because I felt flying was my best option doesn’t mean I suddenly felt good about it.

In fact, I was pretty overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to expect in security. I didn’t know what order things went in at the airport, between getting dropped off at the terminal and boarding the plane. I was nervous about getting disoriented in the airport and having trouble finding security or the gate where I was supposed to board. I didn’t know how to figure out which carousel to go to to pick up my luggage after landing. I didn’t know exactly where to go to find the people who were meeting me in Minneapolis. And then there was the flight itself to worry about, literally putting my life in someone else’s hands.

All this probably sounds silly to someone who’s confident traveling (shouldn’t you just be able to watch what everyone else is doing and imitate?), but truthfully, fear can make you almost blind.

For someone used to feeling strong and – most importantly – in control, this was heavy stuff.

Well, one of my clients, Cheryl, picked up on how I was feeling and I’m so thankful that she kindly spent time tapping with me (using EFT) for my fear. That helped immensely. She also gave me some advice about packing, told me just what to expect through security, and encouraged me not to be afraid to make myself vulnerable and ask airport staff for help if I felt nervous about finding my way at all. All of this relieved my anxiety.

A further help was the fact that Anastacia offered to meet me at the airport in Minneapolis. It was comforting knowing I had someone familiar to look for.

Cheryl also told me that flying is a great metaphor for freedom and that addressing my fear on this was going to free me up to do other things, too. I accepted that statement and at the same time, had a hard time imagining just what those other things could be.

So how does the story end? It hasn’t. But here’s what has happened so far:

My flight went well. I did ask for help from airport staff along the way because I wanted to know where I was going, not walk around until I figured it out, and you know what? Every single one of them was friendly and acted glad to help. The airplane was comfortable. I had a nice seat mate both ways. The flight attendants seemed happy. I liked the pilot’s voice; it inspired confidence. I even napped on the flight to Minneapolis.

And the additional freedoms?

I’d say the biggest change so far is that I’ve noticed myself being a lot more open – and comfortable with that openness – than I have been.

I know I let a vulnerable side of myself show at the business retreat that I believe would have stayed hidden otherwise, most likely even from myself. And just like at the airport, no one made me regret that.

I’ve asked people to help me with things.

I’ve told someone a truth I’d been trying to protect that person from for years – and that felt very freeing, because now we can look for a solution.

If you want to know the truth, it’s felt a little like a second childhood – that’s how much growth I’ve done in a relatively short time. I’m curious about what might come next.

What about you? If you’ve gone through a similar shift, what helped you as you stretched your comfort zone? What were the rewards of doing so for you?

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2 Responses leave one →
  1. October 2, 2012

    Love what you shared, dear Nicole. And I’m beyond glad you found a way to come to the retreat; it wouldn’t have been the same for any of us without you.

    As some smarty-pants person quipped, “Shit happens.” Happy you got some, and look so forward to seeing what else happens for you on this new adventure!!

    Much love,
    A

  2. Robyn permalink
    October 3, 2012

    I can hear your voice as I read this, dear friend, and I know personally all these feelings, especially the “fear can blind you” one. I, too, was afraid and I still take a valium but then I can enjoy the travel and the experience instead of being fearful. I am so so grateful you walked through your fear and came to Homecoming because every single person that was in the Retreat with us was supposed to be there and it would never have been the same without you.

    Thanks for sharing your fear. Bravo!!!

    New Zealand here she comes!!!

    xoxo

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