“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” ~Max DePree
Last week I wrote about the importance of stretching your comfort zone.
This is a practice that when done consistently can have transforming results in our lives, everything from relationships to career and financial success as well as inner peace and an overall sense of joy, will get a big boost.
We can experience deep stretches (for me that meant leaving my career as a TV news reporter and moving to Africa), and lighter stretches (like introducing yourself to someone you don’t know at a party, volunteering at your local animal shelter instead of spending that time watching television, learning how to say, “I love pizza,” in Italian, anything you normally wouldn’t do on a regular basis.)
This isn’t an article about quitting your job and moving to Bali, although if that is your calling, go for it! This is about the deeper, inner work required to truly experience the ongoing benefits of being willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable.
In order for any of this to work, we have to decide that our desires, goals, and vision is worth more to us than holding onto outdated belief systems and doing what we’ve always done in the past.
When my purpose became stronger than my fear of trying or putting myself out there, I began to see almost immediate results. I’m certain this can happen for you, too.
Here are some suggested stretches for:
1. Attracting love.
The first step to attracting love, whether that means a romantic partner, close friendship, improved relationships with family, friends, co-workers and strangers is to remember we are love. When we dwell from that place, and recognize we are already complete and already have love because we are love, we don’t grasp, cling to, desperately seek or repel love. We attract it naturally.
There’s a beautiful teaching in the spiritual, metaphysical book, A Course In Miracles, that says, “It is not your job to seek for love, but to seek in yourself all the barriers to its coming.”
This lesson has been transformational for me because I spent years saying I was ready for a serious romantic relationship, but my actions spoke otherwise. Even if I were to meet a potentially great partner, unless I had done the necessary inner work (removing my blocks to lasting love), I would ultimately sabotage the relationship.
We have to be willing to heal childhood and past relationship wounds in order to be in a mutually beneficial, fulfilling, loving relationship that can stand the test of time.
Suggested stretch: Forgiveness and compassion
This can be a tough one because some people have experienced some truly unforgivable behavior from others and even themselves. But what if we could lean into the fact that each of us did the best we could in that particular moment? Certainly if we knew better and were acting from our Highest Self and not our wounded ego, we would have done things much differently.
This is where compassion and acceptance for ourselves and others plays a huge role. How different would you feel if you could replace your anger, bitterness, jealousy, frustration, pain, suffering and all other uncomfortable feelings with compassion, acceptance and forgiveness?
Forgiveness doesn’t mean the other person (or you) didn’t do anything wrong or that you’re willing to forgive because you’re “so spiritual.” Forgiveness means, “Hey, I can be a jerk sometimes, too, and I want others to forgive me when I’m not acting from my most loving self, so I forgive you.”
When we forgive, starting with ourselves, we loosen our grip, and allow healing to occur.
Ultimately, it’s not another person’s judgement or attack on us that causes us pain, it’s the fact that we judged and attacked back.
The compassionate practice of forgiveness means our walls that have kept love at bay in the past can come crashing down, and we can feel free to express our needs fully and get them met. It will feel safe. When we feel safe, we can break all our rules when it comes to love, and let it flow to and from us with ease.
2. Allowing abundance.
Whether you believe in God/Spirit/Universe or not, I believe everyone has faith. Some people have faith in themselves, in love, in everything working out for the highest good for all, and others have faith in fear and everything and everyone being against them. What kind of faith do you have? What kind of faith do you want?
I have experienced a huge shift in the financial flow in my life when I got out of my own way, (and most importantly, got out of God’s way), and replaced panic, anxiety and the need to control people and outcomes with full-time faith. I don’t just trust in the universe when everything is going my way, and I’m booking a lot of jobs and making a lot of money.
The shift I experienced happened when I began to trust fully when nothing much was going on.
My old comfort zone was: I feel great when I’m busy, being validated by others and making a lot of money. My new comfort zone is: I feel great because I trust everything is lining up for me behind the scenes and working out for my greatest benefit. I am loved. I am supported. I am being guided. All is well. I’m so grateful for everything I have, and everything that is on the way to me now. Thank you, universe!
Suggested stretch: Trust and gratitude
What if we could think of our comfort zone as just an illusion of safety and control that’s barely keeping us afloat?
Stretching out of our comfort zone, and breaking free from the limitations in our minds is all about trust. Trust the voice within you that says it’s time to go on that adventure, do something different with your free time, work at an organization where you feel more valued and appreciated for your unique skill set, allow yourself to go out on dates even when you’ve experienced disappointment in the past or don’t think you’re ready to fall in love.
Believe in your greatness, and that the universe wants you to succeed. Be willing to trust that life can and will be way better than anything you could have ever imaged…if you allow it and don’t resist it. Resistance keeps us firmly planted in our comfort zone.
Be grateful for everything you are and have in this moment, and more of that goodness will flow your way. Become an energetic match for what you desire. You cannot have what you are not willing to become energetically. Begin by surrounding yourself with people who are already doing what you want to do. Attend activities with like-minded individuals. Say, “No,” to energy-draining invitations.
3. Inner peace.
I used to think when I had the career, relationship, home, car, wardrobe and other external items I wanted, then I could finally feel at peace because I would be loved, admired and considered a “success.”
But what I discovered is that once I achieved a certain goal, I only felt satisfied for a few minutes before feeling the need to quickly check another item off my list. It was an exhausting way to live.
After all, we can lose the career, relationship, and our material possessions, but we can’t lose the essence of who we are—our spirit. That is why it’s so important to go within and connect with the truth of who we are on a daily basis.
Peace of mind ultimately comes from daily spiritual practices like prayer and meditation and the knowledge that we are spirit/love, not the body/ego/fear. With this understanding, we can feel fully present, clear, confident and joyful as opposed to guarded, distracted, distant and stressed.
Stretching our comfort zone in this way increases brain stimulation and gives our mental health a boost, which equals a more peaceful perspective.
Suggested stretch: Relax
A big way to stretch outside of our comfort zone is to choose to relax instead of stress, push, freak out, hustle, or work ourselves to exhaustion in the name of achieving something or trying to feel worthy of praise, recognition, validation or a pretty paycheck.
When we can simply relax into the notion that anything outside ourselves can offer us temporary happiness at best (one of my favorite lessons from A Course In Miracles), then and only then can we feel at peace. Everything we truly want (peace, joy, love) can all be found within us, and the challenge is to dive deep within ourselves rather than desperately seek outside ourselves.
When we relax, joy flows through our mind, body, spirit, relationships, career, life. This is the complete opposite of the “make it happen” comfort zone so many of us have lived in for years.
If you’re experiencing any sort of creativity block, try relaxing instead of stressing to give you the inspiration and freedom to live life in a much more peaceful, purposeful way.
4. Deep, lasting joy.
When we are willing and decide to stretch our comfort zone, the way we enjoy and experience life will be enhanced. We become more flexible and resilient and less likely to get stuck in a rut. We get to be who we were created to be—the most glorious version of ourselves. Only then can we experience our divine perfection. When we choose to live life from this place, we inevitably experience deep, lasting joy.
Suggested stretch: Surrender
What does it mean to surrender? In his best-selling book, Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender, Dr. David R. Hawkins says that to be surrendered means to have no strong emotion about a thing: “It’s okay if it happens, and it’s okay if it doesn’t.”
However, how often do we find ourselves attached to an outcome? In some cases we may resist and try to control people or situations or even feel extreme anxiety or depression if something doesn’t happen on our time and in our way. We may tell ourselves, “I’ll be fine if I don’t get the job/money/relationship/house,” but if we are honest, our energy tells a much different story.
The art of surrendering takes practice like anything else. Even the greatest athletes of all-time have several coaches and have to train every day, year-round to keep their fitness, skills and competitive edge in tact.
When we are in a surrendered state, Hawkins says we have a higher energy vibration and greater power. Everything we desire flows to us with ease through synchronicity.
How do we get to a surrendered state? I get there through meditation, quiet time spent alone in nature, the bath tub or anywhere else I can get still and simply be without interruption or distraction. By quieting my mind, I am able to connect to source energy, and relinquish my desires, knowing that what I surrender will be mine.
It may sound counterintuitive to give something up and trust it will be yours, but I have found this to be true. For example, when I finally let go of my desire to work for a particular modeling client (not just with with thoughts, but with my energy), I naturally attracted the client back into my life, and my rate was increased without me even asking. When I literally did not care if I worked for this client, I booked the job.
Deep, lasting joy is about surrendering old belief systems that keep us stuck, and retraining our minds to think thoughts of love rather than fear, abundance rather than lack and so forth. As Hawkins would say, “When we are in a surrendered state, we are free from our inner smallness, insecurity, and low self-esteem.”
I think we can all agree on wanting to surrender that, and the best part is, we can choose to do so right now in this present moment. Try it out for yourself!