My husband and I recently took at trip to Cape Cod to celebrate our approaching 25th wedding anniversary, making room for both of us to step outside our comfort zones. As creatures of habit and routine, both of us found the trip exhilarating and eye-opening. You see, to travel we both had to do a bit of growing.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love being near the water but as someone who is a very poor swimmer, I do not like being in the water. My husband and I had booked this trip to Cape Cod with the intention of going on a whale watching boat trip and we very much were looking forward to it. The day came for the trip, and on that day, the Atlantic Ocean was a bit rough with six to eight foot swells. When we boarded the boat for the trip, my husband encouraged us to sit up top, outside in the elements. It was cold and quite windy. I balked at first, wanting to say below where it was warm and out of the elements. Realizing that this would only leave me within my comfort zone, I agreed to join him on the upper, outdoor level of the boat.
The water was choppy that day, going both to our whale watching area and on the return trip back to Provincetown, MA. To say that I was merely frightened would be an understatement of epic proportions. I was terrified, of being cast overboard, of losing my belongings, of losing my husband to the angry seas. I did it anyway, and because of that got a better view of the roughly 15 whales and a sunfish that graced us with their presence.
Had I not met my fear with courage and compassion, I likely would not have encountered the whales the same way had I stayed inside in the warmth of the boat. Had I not met my fear head on, the trip could have been much different.
Meeting our fears with compassion requires us to spend some time exploring why we are afraid and to consider the likelihood that the worst-case scenario really will happen. Was I really going to be cast overboard into shark-infested waters? Was I really going to lost my husband to the ocean? Probably not.
When we meet our fears with compassion and curiosity, we may find that some of that fear melts away. What is the likelihood that the worst thing will happen? Will we be uncomfortable as we confront our fears? Probably so but nothing ever grows in our comfort zones.
I am very glad I chose to sit up top with my husband on the whale watching tour. Had I not, I shudder to think about what I may have missed. This trip opened my eyes to the possibility of change and the opportunity to grow. What fears might you be able to consider with compassion and curiosity? What might you be able to learn should you choose to step outside your comfort zone?
~ Karri Christiansen, MSW, LSW, CADC, CCTP