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Risking and Stretching

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

In these days of the pandemic, many of us are challenging ourselves to take the risks of stretching outside our comfort zones, sometimes in big ways and often in smaller ways – ways that, to others, seem like no risks at all. Is this a good thing, to move beyond comfort? In some cases, we call it healthy to honor our boundaries and not push ourselves (or allow others) to violate those limits. At other times, it seems that taking that step over the former line is a kind of stretching that enhances us, growing us into our expanded selves. So, what’s the difference? How do we know when to take the risk, or not? Of course, I don’t have any kind of easy answer; however, from my own experience, I’ve thought of a few things to consider:

1. Do I have the physical resources to do it?

2. Do I have the internal resourcefulness to do it?

3. Can I do it? Do I know how to do it? Do I know where to begin? If I don’t, who can I ask?

4. Can I manage the unpredictable emotions or impact of the new behavior – compared to the tried and true gamut of emotions that arise in my usual activities?

5. Overall, is the stretch worth it to me? What does my gut tell me? When I check inside myself, what do I find?

  • Yes, absolutely!

  • It might be challenging but it’s worth a try

  • I’m not sure yet . . . (if this is the case, ask “what will it take for me to be sure)

  • Probably not but I might reconsider it at another time

  • Definitely not!

6. Am I willing to experiment, flounder, and practice until it becomes more comfortable?

7. If not now, when?

In my own life, the current challenge is related to watching TV . . . not just choosing what to watch but watching it at all. I grew up in Japan in the 50s and 60s without much access to TV so I never got into the habit. Instead, I’ve always been a reader. When I’ve lived with others, if they were TV watchers, I joined them – or not – but they managed the remote control and that was fine with me. Now, living alone and maintaining social distance, I’ve become aware that there are things on TV that I might want to watch: the news, an engaging series, some movies, and interesting documentaries.

Using the seven considerations above, here are my thoughts:

1. Yes, I have a TV and a remote and access to enough channels to give me a range of experiences.

2. Yes, I have enough curiosity and determination to figure it out.

3. Yes, I talked with a expert TV-watching friend and she gave me some tips; I think I know enough to get started.

4. Yes, I can probably manage the unpredictable emotions that might arise from the more visceral experience of watching something instead of just reading about it. And, I can always turn it off.

5. The stretch would be worth it. I’d like to explore new experiences, information, and insights. And, I want to be a bit more aware of social commonalities. My gut says: It might be challenging, but it’s worth a try.

6. I will probably flounder a bit; I’m not sure I can find the stuff I want to watch. Didn’t there used to be TV Guides? Now, it looks like people just randomly search for stuff. I think I can be open-ended enough to wander around. I can practice until it becomes familiar.

7. So, tonight, will I stay in my comfort zone and read? Or, will I pick up the remote? If not tonight – I commit to experimenting one day this week.

TV-watching might seem trivial to you but it’s actually a big deal for me! What’s your big deal? Where do you want to hold firm with the experiences that already work well for you? And, where do you want to stretch a bit, try something new, or experiment?


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