I recently was a guest on a radio show and was a little nervous about it. So, I wrote up a few notes and set them in front of me as the interview started. What happened next was a little strange. My left eye became blurry and I couldn’t read. My notes were useless and I knew I had to “wing it”. I was definitely out of my comfort zone and fear started telling me to run.
When comfort zones are stretched, fear will start chattering about staying safe. “Don’t do that. They may not like you. It’s too big a risk. Why put yourself out there? I can keep you safe if you don’t do it.”
If we let that voice of fear control us, we stay stuck and play small. Without building new skills and meeting new people we miss out on the possibilities before us and will eventually regret not living our lives fully.
Comfort zones are flexible and meant to grow. I knew this in that moment before my radio interview and even though I felt like running, I faced my fear, stayed calm, and did it anyway. Here is how you can too.
Recognize fear for what it is. Your fears want to keep you safe, but they are often over reactive. They were installed when you were younger and less able to take care of yourself. So, when you are afraid of meeting someone new the risk may be low, but your fear is still operating from the point of view of the 5 year old who was made fun of at school.
Fear doesn’t realize you have grown and developed new skills. It is a gut reaction that wants to protect you at all costs. Even if that protection hurts you in other ways.
Breathe deeply, and relax your face, neck, and shoulders.
Focus on other people or being of service. Take your mind off yourself and make the experience about the other people involved. How can you make them more comfortable? What can you ask them about themselves? How can you leave the situation better than it was when you entered it? Fear is self-absorbed and focusing on other things can help shift you out of it.
Trust your inner self and speak from the heart. This is what I did on that radio show when I couldn’t read my notes. I had to answer from my heart and experience. By doing so, my interview was much more powerful than it would have been if I had used the notes. Trust yourself. You have everything you need inside of you.
Look for humor in the situation. When you look through an observer’s fly on the wall perspective things can seem quite amusing. Funny things happen when you stretch your comfort zone…
I remember being nervous about speaking before a group of people I didn’t know. When I went to the restroom before going on stage the water from the sink splashed over the front of my pants leaving very obvious water spots. For a moment, I just wanted to escape, but instead I went on stage and the first thing I did was make a joke about being attacked by their sink. It was a great ice breaker and the presentation went over well.
Humor can help you and the people around you feel lighter in stressful situations.
Make friends with your fear. Fear is not your enemy. It only wants what is best for you. It’s just a little over protective. So, have a conversation with it. Thank it for warning you. Let it know you’ve got things covered. And, ask it to help you in another way, like standing in the wings and cheering you on. You might be surprised how well it listens.
If fear is keeping you locked into your comfort zone and you would like the support of a professional life coach, I would love to talk to you. You can connect with me here.