My personal experience with pushing against the comfort zone. A couple of weeks ago my daughter’s Scout group asked for volunteers to be part of a hiking adventure taking place in the day and into the night. The long hike involved problem solving skills and solving clues that would lead them to the next task.
Surprisingly she put her hand up straight away was really keen to do it; she really wanted to be involved. As the details emerged, they revealed that it was a 10 mile hike that involved a hunting down clues and navigating through woodland as a team of people. Bearing in mind she typically isn’t keen on walks in general, I felt it was more the idea of finishing at midnight that had sparked her enthusiasm rather than understanding what she was putting herself forward for.
We spoke and I explained what would be involved so she was fully aware, but also to encourage her too. This was highlighted even more by the amount of kit she needed and how much she would carry. The weather that weekend was cold, windy and very rainy. So it was going to be a real test. But once she understood all the things that would be asked of her, I fully supported her to make it happen.
She and her team left midday. And she didn’t get home until around 1:30 in the morning. I knew that it was going to be a late finish but quite as late as that and wondered how she would be when she came home.
When she did, I felt a pride that really was at another level. This was an accomplishment that exceeded anything she – or her brothers – had ever done before.
All the love and praise she got really highlighted for her how amazing she was. She said she’d fallen over a couple of times. They asked whether she wanted to quit, she’d replied that she wanted to carry on.
As you can imagine I was super proud dad on every level to the commitment to do it and pushing through – mentally and physically – a lot of things.
And that’s the reason for this story. Not just about how she committed to it and stepped out of her comfort zone but what comes after that. The experience so enriched her that I felt this would have a bigger effect in other areas of her life over the next couple of weeks. Because she has pushed through a comfort zone. She’s got through onto the other side. She showed herself something new about herself before: her determination, her grit, her ability to continue despite worry or fear.
And since then I have already begun to notice that she is more confident than before. Maybe something just a parent notices but as I often say this is about incremental changes. If you aim for the moon at a certain angle and you’re just 1% off at the start, that incrementally increases to the point where you’re missing the moon entirely. And in that same way, this confidence boost has put her on a slightly different trajectory.
There’s a couple of things here: finding ways to nudge against their comfort zone. See if we can support them through to the other side of it. Because there’s a richness there, an evolution. Giving them a different degree of confidence, an improved version of how they see themselves. This then permeates into so many other areas of their life.
I’m sure I’ll find more opportunities for her and my other children to push against their comfort zone and see what lies for them on the other side. And for your child, what things could they do which takes them a little bit out of their comfort zone?
Find things that incrementally build on that and increase it. I promise you that you’re going to find a child who grows in confidence, increases in self-esteem and certainly is going to be far more resourceful and more resilient than ever before.
It’s going to gradually happen. But you will have laid the seeds that can take them on a different trajectory. Not only as to how they see themselves and how they make decisions both now and into the future.
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Ben Jackson is a registered counsellor, coach, and lecturer with nearly 10 years of professional experience. He helps clients with stress and anxiety, anger management, self esteem, confidence, and depression.
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