Finding Strength to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
The other night, I was sitting in the recliner in our living room, watching our 11th month old play in the middle of the room. She has over a hundred toys, but for some reason she is more attracted to the TV remote control, my glass of water sitting on the table, electrical outlets, and putting things in her mouth that she shouldn’t.
But, there are some special moments as a parent you look forward too and not exactly sure when they will happen – such as when your child takes their first step. I saw my daughter stand on her own for the first time. Her legs were shaky, but she stood up without the help of the couch, table or mom and dad’s legs.
She stood there for what must have been 2 seconds, but it seemed longer. And then it happened. She took a step forward. It wasn’t fast or big, but it was a step of discovery for her. She was learning. And then she took another step and then one more. My wife and I were looking at each other with eyes wide open and silent astonishment, as we didn’t want to startle our daughter with enthusiastic cheering, “WAY TO GO!!!”
She took three baby steps, but to me, they seemed like the biggest steps in the world. As she tried to stay balanced, she fell backwards into a full on butt flop or that is what I will call it. Then we cheered her on and celebrated. We wanted her to know that those were big steps and she did it! My wife and I enjoyed the moment and then I am not sure who brought it up, but one of us said, “We should enjoy these moments because pretty soon this kid is going to be bolting all over the place.” I like to think of those future moments as times of unexpected adventures.
A few weeks have passed since those first steps, and she has tried to take more and they mostly end with a pretty good butt flop. The butt flops don’t stop her from trying again. Some of her butt flops jolt her like the feeling you get when you turn the crank on a jack in the box and he pops out with unexpected craziness. As a father, I keep encouraging her with positive words, hugs, kisses, affirmations and gold fish crackers. Well we share the gold fish crackers. Eventually, the butt flops will end and she will be running like the wind. But, in the realm of life, she is going to have or face other butt flops. It may seem like I am switching gears here, but I stay with me, it will all make sense when I wrap this up in a very positive and encouraging way.
It is hard to believe that we are coming up on a new year. It almost seems like a blur, but everything for a lot of people went flop around 2009. Even if the glass was half full, it seemed like someone or something would knock it over.
Things are starting to recover for many of us, but the damage of the season and the memories will stay with us as life lessons. Some people have (finally) found new jobs or creative ways to earn a living, for sale signs are appearing in front lawns again and it’s like we are taking new steps. My life went flop big time and I felt jolted by it. I lost a little hope and felt a sense of anxiety. It feels like the past few years have been like watching my daughter take her first steps, a little shaky at first but discovering I can get back up again and try again. Resilience is doing a butt flop, but knowing you have what it takes to get back up and try again.
Starting over and starting new is not easy, because sometimes it can physically and mentally exhausting. I think many of you understand where I am coming from with all this and can relate.
There are some things I am still trying to recover from, but taking small steps every day and celebrating the little victories or small steps. And yes, there are days it feels like I took 5 steps backwards into a big butt flop, but you just have to get up and try again. Giving up is easy and that is why we have to find and renew our determined strength often. We can find it in a good book, a friend, faith, or your significant other. It is encouraging knowing you have someone to lean on when you feel weak.
Taking first steps in a new direction is like stepping onto a path that is outside our comfort zone. I just became a parent and there are days I have no clue what I am doing, but you keep trying. Stepping out of our comfort zone is uncomfortable, scary and it brings with it a lot of uncertainty. And with new steps, you might do a butt flop here and there, but the good news is if you got up once before, you have it in you to do it again. And you don’t have to do it alone. I think if you do an inventory of certain people in your life, you will find there are some who will take you by the arm and walk with you as you take those scary and new steps – whatever it might be – a new job, moving, new relationship, another kid on the way, whatever.
Hey, this may seem like a bunch of touchy feely stuff, but this is life and we can’t always predict what is up ahead. We can’t always predict the change of the seasons. I know I could have never predicted how bad things would get for myself and others starting in 2009.
So here are a few tips that have helped me
take new steps and ease the
jolt of life’s butt flops.
- Be grateful. The moment you find something to be grateful for is the moment you shift your focus on to what is great in your life despite what your circumstances might otherwise suggest.
- Don’t react or over react. Don’t make a butt flop more dramatic than what it is. Don’t inflate it into something that it is not. Maybe it’s an unexpected bill that you hadn’t budgeted for or someone said something about you that wasn’t true. Who knows, but when you react or over react – it is like pulling a pin out of a grenade and letting it blow the situation up even more. And I speak from experience! You can get upset and mad because that is normal, but find a better way of dealing with things. Maybe give the situation a few hours or a few days, so you can think about the best option to handle things.
- Find sources of encouragement. As my wife and I plan for the future, we have found an incredible amount of encouragement in Dave Ramsey. He helps people get smart with their money. As I get older, the goal is to travel less and so we want to be smart with our funds and listening to Dave Ramsey gives us hope and helps us develop a strong plan for our future.
- Find a positive outlet. An outlet is a way to escape everything for a little bit and recharge, refocus and decompress. Maybe it is painting, which I love to do. Or my favorite – writing. I have never asked anyone if I am a good writer or not, but I just keep writing from my mind and heart and it’s not always perfect, but it’s a great outlet for me. And if it encourages someone else, that is just an extra bonus.
If you get a chance and want a little bit more encouragement, I want to suggest a great book to read, titled – Peanut Butter Makes Life Better, What My Fears, Failures and Flops Taught Me About Finding Hope, Humor and Happiness. Yes, this is my book and I am very candid about some major butt flops in life, bad choices, dishonest people, a negative attitude and how I came out on top of it all. Plus there is some good humor in there that I think will make you laugh out loud, which I can really call #5 on this list of ways to handle life’s butt flops.
We need to laugh. It is good medicine, feels good,
releases stress and improves our good looks.
Until next time, remember it all starts with attitude!