Image via Elim Araf Yalim Photography
It’s not a heading I thought I would ever write, but I’m starting to believe that sometimes the most important thing about getting outside your comfort zone is coming back into it. Don’t worry, I haven’t completely flip flopped on my views on comfort zone challenges (I’m not a politician after all), but I have started to recognise that as well as challenging ourselves, it is equally as important to take the time to reflect and to nurture ourselves.
The last couple of months have been pretty up and down for me both from a health and emotional perspective. No doubt you would have noticed my complete absence from blogging. At first, after yet another bout of sinusitis, I got really down on myself about not writing. I’d got into a good habit of writing each week, trying new things and staying accountable to you, my wonderful readers. So when I ‘let you down’ by not posting I berated myself for not being disciplined or consistent enough. Then I turned downright mean, calling myself hopeless and weak and pathetic – seriously, would I talk to anyone else like that? No way!
But then something happened that made me realise that I probably needed to chill the fuck out. At ten weeks pregnant I had a miscarriage. The shock and loss and pain was made worse by a complication that meant I lost a lot of blood and ended up in hospital. I’m not exactly sure that you could call the whole experience a comfort-zone challenge, but lying there with a drip in my arm and people poking around between my legs wasn’t exactly my idea of relaxing (sorry, too graphic??). It certainly was uncomfortable and challenging, on both a physical and emotional level.
After I came home from hospital I was pretty weak and also feeling pretty raw emotionally. I went through so many different emotions: a sense of loss, accompanied by confusion about exactly what it was that I had lost, then feeling grateful that my body knew the ‘right thing’ to do, then thinking about all the good things that come with not being pregnant (vino anyone?), then feeling guilty about finding the positives in losing a baby. Then there was a part of me, let’s call her ‘old Jane’ who kept telling me to get over it, saying that ‘it was only 10 weeks’, ‘it’s not a big deal’, blah blah blah.
Thankfully I am not ‘old Jane’ anymore and I have become a lot more self-aware and lot more attuned to my feelings and emotional reactions. And I think that is in no small part due to the comfort zone challenges I have put myself through over the last couple of years. Oh yeah, and I should probably also give some credit to my therapist…
As a result of this new Oprah-like consciousness I told work I wasn’t coming in for the rest of the week and I spent the entire week sleeping, reading fiction and drinking tea, oh and taking iron tablets, plenty of those. While I was reading I noticed a quote on the bookmark I’d been using, it said:
“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths” Elly Hillesum.
I had been using the bookmark for months, and only then did it actually make sense to me.
I realised that the time when the biggest personal growth happens is not just when you are outside your comfort zone, but also once you come back in to your comfort zone to reflect. Actually, just doing the comfort zone challenge itself is a bit wasted if you don’t take the time and effort to reflect on the experience and on your own feelings, emotions and reactions to the challenge.
Reflection requires a safe space. It requires a nurturing environment and a compassionate voice. It requires asking yourself what you were you feeling, what you were fearful of and why you felt that way. Just remember to leave the judgement at the door.
After the miscarriage I gave myself some space to think and feel and to reflect on what I had lost and why I felt that way. And by doing that I feel like the grief passed through me a lot faster and I got a lot more out of the experience by allowing myself that. Sometimes the answer can seem really obvious, but it’s still important to take the time to ask and to validate those fears or emotions. Your reactions are yours and yours alone and you are entitled to them.
What about you? Are you showing yourself patience and compassion when you go through the hard times – whether they be intentionally set challenges or just the shit-storm of life? You heard it here first, I completely endorse being inside your comfort zone. Just don’t start living there. View it as the rest between two breaths. A place to pause, reflect and nurture yourself before the next challenge begins. hashtagselflove 😉
Love Jane xx