But the past four years of adventuring and consistently disturbing the bounds of my comfort zone revealed a different strategy to me.
I’ve stepped into dynamic situations which called upon certain traits in me, at whatever level of development—highly polished to seriously scraggly—and revealed an even greater capacity— to be flexible, kind, strong— than I thought I had.
I’ve started to see myself as less fixed and more dynamic. Traits were called up like numbers in a Bingo game and, much to my surprise, they responded.
For example, imagine:
You are alone, it’s dark and your hotel room is ½ a mile away. The only way to get there is on a dirt path through the woods by foot (no motorized transport on this island). Oh, and you’re freaked.out.scared. That was a situation I created for myself by meeting a friend for a piña colada at a restaurant half way in between where each of us was staying on Little Corn Island in Nicaragua.
Courage was called up like B7 and I was like BINGO. Yes I felt fear and for a moment it felt all encompassing, but then courage arose. Right on cue.
After the situation was over and I was safe, I got to add to my courage bank. The accumulation of these kinds of experiences (where courage or any other given quality is called upon) helps me to think of myself as more courageous.
I don’t have to will myself to be something I feel I’m not; I just show up to my life willingly, see what it asks of me, and notice what rises up in response.
To enhance this process, I’ve been working on noticing when I have a fixed view of myself which isn’t serving me: Mary is like this, therefore she doesn’t/won’t/can’t do that. Then I actively call up exceptions in my mind. We can usually think of at least one exception which means we have some currency in the bank of the traits we want to build on.
p.s. On Little Corn Island I ran the whole way back, figuring any crazy animals or persons hiding in the woods would think I was even crazier. I highly recommend this technique for women feeling scared in foreign countries. I should also say that Little Corn is very safe because the economy is entirely dependent on tourism. My fear, like my courage, was self-created.
Photo credit: bridges&balloons