Moving out of our comfort zone (the place where we feel sure of ourselves) is always scary, but if we don’t try something new, we’ll never know what we are capable of. What can help us take that first important step out so we can dare to discover what we are truly able to accomplish?
Fear Keeps Us from Trying
For several years I have contemplated sending in an abstract to a Gerontology Conference to share our programs that teach Foreign Live-In Caregivers hand reflexology to calm and connect with their employers who are living with dementia.
Seems like a a worthy topic that others may learn from, yet I never wrote an abstract because I was just too scared to even try.
What scared me so much?
The fear of being rejected.
The fear that I wasn’t good enough.
The fear that I would make a fool of myself.
So I never wrote that abstract, but I had absolutely no trouble coming up with wonderful excuses to convince myself why I shouldn’t write it:
They wouldn’t accept it anyway.
The people I want to work with are international, not local.
The papers given at the conference aren’t worthwhile.
I should spend my time helping people rather than writing abstracts.
And I believed every one of my excuses – because that was easier than facing my fears in order to move out of my comfort zone.
Fear freezes us in our tracks. Be aware of this and acknowledge the fear. You can even write down what you are afraid of. It might surprise you. Then look for ways to reduce this fear so you can move forward.
Support or Discouragement
Most of us have given up on ideas and dreams due to fearing what might happen. I have found that one of the most important factors in pursuing our ideas or quickly giving up on them depends on the people who support us or discourage us.
I remember how a colleague, I happened to meet one day, shared how excited she was. She told me that she realized what she wanted to do in her life and was about to start studying to reach her dream. She was transformed and I could see the energy that radiated from her because she had found exactly what she wanted to do. That was such an exciting moment to see how her decision affected her physically and mentally. She was transformed.
When I met her again several months later, that energy was gone. Her whole appearance had changed. Rather than being upright and full of energy and hope, she was slouching, and I can only describe her as empty of spirit. She explained that she had decided to take another path – by heeding the advice of well-meaning friends. She was convinced that they were steering her in the path she should be taking.
When we are vulnerable – not sure if we are making the right decision - we need to be surrounded by people who can support us.
A few weeks ago I happened to meet someone who had a PhD in Gerontology and told her how I didn’t send in an abstract to the gerontology conference. She told me that I certainly could send in our work as a case study and that they had extended the deadline for submitting the abstracts to the conference.
That “by chance” meeting was the push of confidence I so needed and was my first push forward to writing the abstract. I finally opened the conference site and read the guidelines for submitting an abstract. I continued combating my fears and wrote my first draft of the abstract. I was lucky to receive support from friends, some virtual who i had never met personally, who looked over my abstract and gave me advice. Maybe even more importantly they gave me the kick to push me one more step out of my comfort zone. “You’ve got this” were probably the most important words I could hear at that moment to remind me to leave my fears behind and just move forward with the abstract.
Don’t underestimate the importance of finding people who can support you. It’s hard to face our fears alone.
You Can Make a Difference
Be generous with your support for others. Support your friends and even strangers. It can take so little on your part to give a word of praise and it may possibly change the life of someone else.
After taking a digital marketing course with Shar-i, I decided to try writing a weekly blog. That seemed like an impossible feat, and I doubted I would have enough ideas to write more than a couple of blogs, but here I am writing my 19th blog! I am still in shock that I have already been blogging weekly for 4 ½ months! (You can see the blogs you missed here.)
I sometimes joke that Shari somehow possessed me, but the real reason I continued to write these blogs was due to the incredible support I received and continue to get from Shari and the other participants who took the marketing course with me. Just reading one message that someone liked what I wrote or how I wrote the blog was all I needed to keep going. Without that support I would not have continued. I once read a post about how important it is to support young parents. One day at the pool I saw a mother with two young children. I loved how she spoke to her children and was in awe of the patience this young mother had as she tried to get them ready after a shower.
Remembering the post I had read, I told her that she is a great mother. She was so surprised, she almost had tears in her eyes. She thanked me so much because she is always doubtful if she is doing a good job parenting. It's so easy to be generous with our words and compliments. Don’t assume everyone is 100% sure of themselves! Imagine how many people you might be able to help daily.
Make it a habit to give a compliment, because sadly most people are much more apt to complain.
Thank the checkout clerk for being so fast.
Thank the person cleaning up the beach so you can enjoy it.
Salute the older crossing guard as you pass by, so he feels appreciated.
Thank the garbage man for putting your bins back to the right place.
The list is endless.
The great side effect of thanking others is that you feel much better by being grateful and noticing all the good things that are going on around you.
Why Was I Scared?
So with help and support from friends and colleagues, I submitted my abstract to the Gerontologist Conference. I hope it will be accepted, but right now what is most important for me, is that I faced my fear and finally submitted an abstract to a conference. Despite not being an academic or expert in the field of gerontology or dementia, I was able to understand that I also have something important to share. What surprised me the most, is that besides the relief, I could not figure out why I was so scared to write and submit that abstract! It suddenly seemed so silly that writing an abstract and submitting it had become a monumental task - but of course the fear was very real at the time.
Riding on the back of my moment of accomplishment – I sent in another abstract to an Alzheimer’s Disease Conference in Europe. This time, without the fear, it was much easier to write it. Of course, if one of these abstracts gets accepted, I’m sure the panic and fear will come back again since I will have to prepare and give a presentation to all those academics! 😱 So now you know the real reason why I wrote this blog. To remind myself the next time I am frozen by fear, to get support and remember that once you step out of your comfort zone, it feels pretty darn good! I hope this can also help others too. If you are facing a fear that is keeping you from moving forward - I’m ready to support you!
While writing this blog I kept hearing in the back of my mind Freddy Mercury singing “Don’t Stop Me Now.” I think I’ll play the song the next time I am scared of taking that first step towards the unknown. --- If there is a topic you would like us to cover in our blogs, please tell us by commenting below, clicking on contact in the menu or writing to us at email@example.com .
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Hands-on Dementia for Caregivers, A step by step guide to learn 3 reflex points to help your loved one and yourself https://www.hands-ondementia.com/ebook
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