Stepping WAY outside of your box!

November 5, 2009

yoga stretch comfort zoneI wish the Oprah Show was always as inspirational as it was yesterday!

She brought on a few women who had been feeling midlife awful, with issues like divorce, single motherhood and job loss.

They were feeling helpless and hopeless, like victims in their own lives.  One women described herself as “paralyzed by fear.”

Oprah gave Ali Wentworth the means to help these women step beyond their own internal limitations.  She introduced them to their new selves.

The women first tried a few rounds of roller derby, then took a sky dive together, and finally disrobed on a beach and ran naked.

You may be thinking “So what!”  If so, go try a few of these challenges and then get back to me.  Stepping outside of your own box changes lives!

How do I know?  Believe me, I know a thing or two about stretching my comfort zone.  I left mine entirely back in 2004, and I’ve been living outside of it ever since!

First I started my own dating service after I lost my job.  I figured I needed a job and a date, so what the heck!  That led to an amazing new relationship.  Falling in love at 49 felt like a gigantic leap of faith!

Since then, I’ve tried out a few different but related careers: writing, public speaking and even writing my first books.

I want to spend my time here on earth doing what I’m best at, and there’s only one way to find out what that is, experiment!  One thing is for sure:  I LOVE living outside of my comfort zone and I’m never going back into my BOX!


Why this identity crisis now?

February 1, 2008

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what brings on so many changes around the time of midlife. What brings on the depression that has most recently been proven (see post) to increase in our 40’s?

I got a clue from watching Oprah the other day. Her guest was Gavin de Becker, author of “The Gift of Fear.” This was a fascinating show about how humans are the only animals who will consciously decide not to listen to their instinct or gut feelings when they are in the presence of danger.

His best example was when we are waiting for an elevator, it arrives, but it contains a person that immediately gives us the creeps. Human beings are the only animals that will ignore strong warning signs from within, and go ahead and get into a soundproof, steel box with this scary person!

I have observed this with my dogs. If they get a bad feeling while we are walking, they will simply stop and go no further. They did this once on a walk on the edge of town and I soon realized a coyote was watching us from a distance! I headed home as fast as I could!

The question is, how do we get so out of touch with our self preserving instincts whose purpose is to help keep us safe and out of harm’s way? I think the answer is the same as why we wait until midlife to re-visit our innate inner wisdom and sense of self.

It seems to me that most of us spend the first half of our lives learning how NOT to listen to our instincts and intuition, and the second half re-learning the wisdom of this inner voice.

“Do What You’re Told!”

One of the purposes of growing up in a certain culture is to teach us to follow the rules. Life would be chaotic without most of these rules. So, as a child, we need to learn how things work, and why we should do as we’re told. Often these rules can protect us from harm. But somehow, these rules can eventually take on a life of their own.

The rules become an excuse for not thinking for ourselves. All the pressures of life can converge upon us to marry at a certain age, have children, take the secure, sensible job, and try to leave our “gut feelings” behind.

Challenging “The Rules”

At midlife, our original instincts may re-emerge and say, “Wow, what was I thinking?” A powerful desire to take back control over our life and our destiny may emerge from shocking occurrences like the death of a loved one, divorce, job loss or changes in our own health status.

We may decide to quit playing it safe and start living the rest of our life exactly as we see fit. This I call the dawn of self-ownership and self-responsibility. (See post on Finding Your Passion)

Depression & Change

Not surprisingly, in the midst of this transformation, we may feel a lot of anger and frustration with the fact we have “wasted” so many years coming to this realization. This may culminate into a time of depression, as we navigate our way out of the old ways of denying our true selves and into a renewed sense of self and purpose.

We may need to re-visit previous relationships, change the conditions of present relationships, change jobs, move, or even change our entire image to rectify this change that comes from within.

This is NOT a cheap excuse for treating others badly, in fact it is the opposite. It is a time to  step up and begin treating ourselves and everyone else in our lives with the dignity and respect we all deserve.