As a child, I remember waking up in the middle of the night with my legs aching in pain. Mom would give me a drink of milk, and tell me to go back to bed. Sometimes when it was really bad, she would wrap them up in a heating pad.
Years later when my kiddos started having growing pains, I offered the same remedies my mom had taught me. Through their cries of discomfort, I would reassure them that these pains were a good thing. It meant their bodies were growing bigger and stronger.
Today my growing pains are a little different from when I was younger. My legs may not be experiencing discomfort from the stretching and lengthening, but my soul feels the enlarging of my capacities and the increase in my learning. As with most things uncomfortable, the common side effect is growth.
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. -Neale Donald Walsch
Anytime we choose to stretch our abilities, try hard things, take risks and expose our most vulnerable self we open a whole new world of possibilities. True growth only happens when we step outside of our comfort zone.
Alan Henry describes our comfort zone as “a behavioral space where your activities and behaviors fit a routine and pattern that minimizes stress and risk.” Pushing beyond that safe place elevates our anxiety and stress levels creating what science calls “Optimal Anxiety.”
As with anything in life, too much is not a good thing. But just pushing a little further than what might be comfortable shows to have benefits in our performance, improving our coping abilities, and inspires us to try new things.
Birth of a Blog
One year ago I pushed outside my comfort zone, and I gave birth to Choosing Wisdom. I think of it as a birth because in so many ways it has become my fifth child. It has been as time-consuming as a new baby, yet at the same time just as rewarding. The last twelve months have pushed me in unexpected ways as I have experienced a whole new variety of growing pains.
The one thing I have learned above all else has been to embrace the discomfort change represents. When I allow myself to shy away from what might seem too difficult, or push back because I feel vulnerable, my growth begins to atrophy.
I invite you to take a step toward experiencing something uncomfortable. Look for a way to stretch beyond what you think you can do and discover a new potential — because the honest truth about growing pains is they are good for you. Continue with me on my journey as I choose to learn wisdom from my everyday experiences.
Resources: Henry, Alan. “The Science of breaking out of Your Comfort Zone.” Retrieved from Lifehacker.com (2017). Dodson, John D., and Yerkes, Robert M. “The Relation of Strength of Stimulus to Rapidity of Habit-Formation.” Retrieved from PsychClassics (2017).
Originally published at www.choosingwisdom.org