The biggest moments of growth in life come from getting outside of your comfort zone.

Embracing the clenching at the pit of your stomach, and doing it anyway. Learning to overcome the impulse that makes you feel like everything in your body is telling you not to do it.

The other day i was standing with a friend and he was considering approaching a beautiful woman. At the sheer idea of it, you could see him freeze in place, thinking about what it would be like to go approach her.

Instantly hesitations and objections sprang up left and right.

I can’t speak her language.

She probably has a husband.

Not right now, I’m not in the mood to do it

If we were out at a party right now, I would do it, but not now.

Fear cripples us in subtle ways that we don’t realize.

Some of us freeze in the face of a beautiful woman. Others in an unpleasant conversation. Others in front of a new activity.

Since I’ve come to Brazil this has happened to me several times.

One is the thought of wearing a Sunga (speedo).

Or being around a beautiful transvestite.

Or being hit on by a man.

Or hanging out with a group of trans, gay, and straight people who are all speaking in a language I don’t understand, staring at me and laughing, and me not knowing if its a joke I don’t get or if I’m just being uncomfortable.

Throughout my time there I successfully conquered three of these fears (never rocked a Sunga, and honestly that would have been the easiest one. Next time com certeza 😉 )

Most of us can’t get past that initial moment of discomfort. When your body feels gripped with indecision. The reasons of “why I can’t do this” overwhelm us and prevent us from taking action in a meaningful way.

We think that these innocent moments of “no I can’t approach that person” are harmless, but in reality they pile up in ways we don’t notice. Piece by piece, brick by brick, we build a wall of fear that affects every decision and interaction we have with other people.

It’s no coincidence that the same person from the beginning of this story also didn’t want to try dance classes, slacklining, a new way of filming, or hiking up a mountain.

When approached by something new and uncomfortable, some people freeze. Learn how to not be one of these people. Practice doing things that make you uncomfortable.

Here are some simple exercises for you to practice doing things that make you feel uncomfortable:

1) Cold showers — great way to practice discomfort in a small way

2) Try a 12–24 hour fast — you’ll realize you don’t need food as much as you think you do

3) Eat the same food every day for a week straight

4) Wear something ridiculous that will get you stares when going to do something simple like grocery shopping

5) Try to not speak for an entire day

6) Approach 10 strangers and start a conversation with each of them

7) Try public speaking or reading poetry on stage in front of a crowd

8) Tell someone a secret you’ve never told anyone

9) Go a day without using your cell-phone

10) Travel somewhere and stay in a crappy place. This could be a hostel without hot water or electricity, or somewhere you genuinely feel is “gross”

Bonus Extremes:

11) Walk down the street while dancing

12) Fake Kung-Fu fight with a friend screaming like Liu Kang

13) Hang out with the strangest person you can find for an hour

14) Ask for your coffee for free (credit – Tim Ferriss)

15) Lie down in the middle of the floor for five minutes with your eyes closed in a crowded place (credit – Tim Ferriss)

Practicing fear helps us to notice when we’re experiencing it. To create familiarity with that uncomfortable feeling. By implementing small doses, we can practice overcoming fear in our daily lives.

Go do something that makes you feel uncomfortable…and then tell me about it after 😃

Also published on Medium.

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