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May 29, 2023

What Growth Looks (and Feels) Like

This year I’m excited to be back teaching mindfulness in schools.

Three years ago, I gave one of my first trainings to a group of 30 counselors. (I share about this experience in my meditation, Trust The Work.)

The day before, I nearly had a panic attack. Lots of imposter syndrome and unworthiness surfaced, and I feared blowing it.

Luckily I moved through it and was able to make the trek down the following day. Although my mental state was better, the fear was stronger. It took every bit of courage to be with it and remember that it was growing me.

The presentation went well. Afterwards, I felt the glow that comes from doing what scares you.

What Growth Looks Like

As I was driving last week, giving a similar presentation to three years ago, there was a notable difference — no strong nerves or fear. Instead, I felt at ease, relaxed even.

It was such a distinct difference that it made me wonder how I could feel so much fear three years prior? While the circumstances were the same, I wasn’t.

At first, I brushed it off, thinking that the fear would show once I saw people settling in their seats. When that happened, sure, there were nerves, but nothing like I experienced before. I felt grounded and unattached to getting it “right.”

I was surprised. I experienced so much public speaking fear in the past, and none of it was there. What happened?

It’s what happens when we practice expanding our comfort zone. I have given dozens, if not hundreds of talks, trainings, and classes in the past three years. Again and again, I put myself in situations that flexed my “overcoming-fear muscle.”

The difference I felt three years later is not magic. It’s the result of doing the work that allows my nervous system to hold more energy.

Slow and Steady

There’s an analogy used in addiction about a frog in the pot. If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, the frog will jump out. If you put a frog in a pot of lukewarm water and turn the heat high, it will boil itself to death because it doesn’t feel it getting warmer.

While this is meant to discuss the slippery slope of addiction, we can use this in a positive light as well. If we repeatedly put ourselves into scary situations, three years down the road, the fear pot will be boiling and we won’t feel it.

While there was less fear for my presentation, consequently, there was less glow. The downside to becoming more comfortable is that we don’t feel the thrill of accomplishment that comes after. That’s the sign to find our new growth edge and step into it.

A few weeks back, I talked about this concept of Raising Your Energy Field.

We need to do the self-work to create a body that can hold more energy. Like adding weight to our workouts, we need to add resistance to life.

We do this by seeking discomfort and putting ourselves in situations that grow us. By doing so, we teach our nervous system, “I can feel safe amidst something I once feared.” That is transformation.

How can you work to hold more energy? The easiest way is to do the thing that scares you.

As I’ve said before, Being afraid and excited is a sign you’re on the right path. So go through the fear. It’s the only way.

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