Update on 30-day comfort zone challenge and what I’ve learned so far

I wrote about lying around on the pavement a few weeks ago and if you followed me on twitter, you saw my endeavors in real time. You might have also noticed that, being a cheap bastard, I was mostly wearing just one pair of trousers and shoes the whole time (don’t worry, I do wash my clothes. I just don’t go outside when they’re drying up).

In any case, the comfort zone challenge is 3/4 ways through and I am at 80 seconds at the moment. Next week will be the last week of the challenge, and at this point I wanted to share a few things I’ve noticed so far.

Without any further ado, here are two things I’ve learned spending time on the sidewalk.

Most people don’t pay any attention

The biggest thing that I was afraid of at the beginning was being approached by people or getting odd looks. Of course being afraid of such things is completely irrational and the whole point of the exercise is to go towards fears in order to conquer them. However, soon after starting the challenge I noticed two things: Firstly, most people don’t even pay attention, and secondly, as long as I showed some sings of life – for example fidgeting in anxiety – no one was ever interested in asking what the heck was I doing. So in the end no one even cared (what a relief!)

Furthermore, even when I did spark someone’s interest, people are pretty good at hiding their curiosity. I think most people either pretend there’s nothing odd going on, or try to find a rational explanation for odd behavior. This is because people want to avoid feeling embarrassed for other people, and both behaviors help alleviate the uncomfortable feeling that arises when you see someone making a fool out of him or herself.

Uncomfortable times at my home street.

Uncomfortable times at my home street.

The discomfort doesn’t go away – you just get used to it

I was partly expecting that after a week on the challenge I would feel somewhat indifferent about lying on the street. I didn’t, however, and I still feel quite uncomfortable whenever I’m at it. But what did happen was that I got used to feeling uncomfortable, which I think is the most important thing to learn from this ordeal.

In my mind, becoming used to being afraid is much better than abolishing fear completely. This is because being okay with being afraid is a skill you can use throughout your life. If you can handle uncomfortable situations rather than avoiding them, you are more able to take action whenever necessary. For example, standing up to bullies, saying no when you need to, and pursuing your dreams all require going outside your comfort zone. If you have already developed the habit of getting into uncomfortable situations, it’s more likely that you will take action when it is required.

What a bright and uncomfortable morning it was!

What a bright and uncomfortable morning it was!

Furthermore, it is the act of going towards your fears that creates courage, not the other way around. You don’t first become courageous and then take action. I think this is something that a lot of people get mixed up, including yours truly, mainly because they compare themselves to other people who already act boldly. Courage is a muscle you need to train, and going outside your comfort zone is like going to the gym. Moreover, if you don’t use your courage muscle, it will become soft and flabby and won’t have the necessary strength for you to pursue your goals and dreams.

Thank you for reading, and please, do share your thoughts! Have you done something similar? How are you building your courage muscle? Drop me a line below and let’s have a chat!

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