Sep 122012
 

by Linda-Ann Stewart

Many years ago, I was a member of a group that promoted and encouraged creative writing in the community. We’d been working together for a couple of years when a new member joined us. She came in with a host of ideas, many of which we’d already tried, with no success. Even after we explained that, she insisted on our implementing them anyway.

No one challenged her and said, “No, that didn’t work the first time and we’re not going to do it again.” I decided someone had to draw the line, and although I expected censure from the rest of the group, I stood up to her and said, “No.” It got a little heated.

After the meeting, I was surprised and amazed when the other members thanked me for standing firm. “Someone had to do it,” they said. This was the opposite reaction that I’d learned to expect, based on my childhood experiences. In my youth, if I set a boundary or challenged someone, I was ostracized. The members’ appreciation rocked my worldview. It altered even more when the new member called me and kept trying to change my mind. And that, from then on, she respected me.

When you risk stepping out of your comfort zone, you find a deeper level of self-commitment and self-acceptance. By being true to yourself, you give yourself the message that your opinions and values are important. This buoys up your self-concept and increases your self-respect, which in turn gives you a greater feeling of confidence. It encourages you to open up and be more authentic.

I felt the new member had to be stopped from taking us down a fruitless path, so I acted on what I thought was right. By following my values, I fed my self-respect and felt like I’d accomplished something. When I stepped out of my comfort zone, I found approval when I expected displeasure.

The same thing can be said for trying new things. Making the choice to risk trying something you haven’t done before, whether you’re good at it or not, opens your mind to new experiences and possibilities. You don’t have to be good at it, you just have to try. And if you don’t explore new activities or pursuits, you won’t find hidden treasures that make your heart sing.

This is the way children learn. They try, fail, and try again. When they’re learning to walk, playing with building blocks, or making a sand castle, they don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work out initially. Exploring and experimentation allows them to expand their awareness and discover what works and what doesn’t. Children are persistent and keep trying, even it they don’t succeed the first time. They’re authentic and their confidence grows as they try again and achieve their goal.

Copyright 2012 Linda Ann Stewart
All Rights Reserved

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