When was the last time you tried something new? When was the last time you took a risk?
I received a call-for-help-email out of the blue from a young 21year old lady the other day. She was going through a tough time and was wondering if coaching could assist her. The morning of the appointment she didn’t show up. I received this very honest response when I asked what happened:
“I don’t know what it is Berdine, but every time I try something new, my body just freezes. It just doesn’t want to go.”
As a coach I understand and have so much compassion for the process where we hit that invisible wall whenever we go for something outside our comfort zone. It is called the Terror Barrier. A very clever trick that our mind plays on us to keep the status quo, keep things (too) comfortable, the way they’ve always been. And yet, is that why we are here? Are we here to sit (too) comfortably on the side line of life looking in and resign on the hope that things can be better, that we could experience so much more? Or are we here to experience the magic and fulfilment that comes with growing, being and experiencing more, seeing more, feeling more and standing tall?
There are four stages to hitting the Terror Barrier. Once we can identify where we are in the process, it gives us a better understanding that we’re not going crazy and it could actually become a very liberating process to go through!
Stage 1: Bondage (Comfort Zone)
This is where we are currently at. It’s the nice, safe space where we're not entirely unhappy, we're not being threatened to change in any way and there is also not much excitement. At least it is familiar and comfortable. It would be nice for things to change, but we’re not really motivated to make the necessary changes yet.
Stage 2: Reason
At stage two we get some outside (new) idea entering our mind. We could’ve attended a seminar, you could’ve had me as a coach where I ask you what you really, really want or it could just be a dream that resurfaced. We entertain this new idea of how things could be. We reason it out. We look at the pros and the cons. At this stage we haven’t DONE something differently yet. We’re just playing with the ideas in our mind. We’re still in the same job, in the same house, the same relationship, the same position etc. This is also the stage where your mind will send you all the old excuses that used to stop you in the past: “Remember how you failed when you tried it before?” “The economy is really bad right now.” “What if you get hurt again?” “What if everyone will be mad at you?” “You don’t need that added aggravation!” etc. This is a very interesting stage as we could actually sit here for days, months and even years!
Stage 3: Conflict (Terror Barrier)
This is the stage where you decide that you are in fact sitting TOO comfortably; that you actually want more from life. You feel your desire for more in your heart and you are ready to now go for what you want as you courageously start acting on your new ideas. That's when the invisible Terror Barrier wall comes up with full force!! Your old conditioning will try to stop you at all costs! Worry registers in our thinking mind, we feel huge fear in our body which can paralyze us and anxiety floods our entire system. It litterely stops us dead in our tracks.
We don't stay in this ‘terrified’ state for too long. What most of us do instead of stepping through the fear and acting anyway, is to step out of the heat and bounce off the wall right back into our comfort zone (Stage 1). Immediately we feel the relief because it's not so scary anymore.
The excuses I hear when people (including myself) step back out of the heat, are:
“It wasn’t a good time”, “I’m actually happy where I am”, “At least I have a job”, “I didn’t get a good feeling about this”, "This is just a pipe dream." etc. Does this sound familiar?
Breaking through the Terror Barrier requires the understanding that you will hit it every time you go for something new which is outside your comfort zone. Make sure that you are emotionally connected to what you really want so that the pain of staying the same is less than the discomfort of actually going for it. The saddest moments for me are those when we retreat to our comfort zone and in those honest moments before we fall asleep or when we have just woken up, we know that we gave up on something really special. We gave up on what we really wanted… Regret is not a pleasant feeling and most often than not we regret not that which we did, but that which we didn’t do. All it takes is a huge desire and a little bit of vulnerability, and 20 seconds daily of insane courage!!
Stage 4: Freedom
This is the thrill, excitement and joy we experience when we have conquered our fears and we have gone for what we want. We have broken through the Terror Barrier! We know we can do it again and it was all worth the effort and trouble, because deep down we knew this is what life was all about!
Consider what you really, really want in life. What have you resigned on? What dreams and goals have you given up on? And then ask yourself, is it still ok then to sit (too) comfortably?