Written by Dr Lynette Mackey, Dietitian and Behavioural Change Consultant to the LifeShape Clinic.

The purpose of this article is threefold. It’s:

  1. Asking that you stop and reflect upon your achievements and appreciate all the wins you’ve had to date, no matter how small. 
  2. To remind you of why you are working so hard to do what it takes to achieve these outcomes.
  3. Acknowledgment by the clinicians at LifeShape Clinic of what you stand for, and your efforts to take committed action on a daily basis, are an inspiration to those around you.  

Now the clinicians know that sometimes, when they give out compliments, they don’t often get heard. So, in case you are still not convinced that you are winning, they would like to remind you of the following.  You are winning every single time that you make a conscious decision that takes you towards the life you want as opposed to away from it.

This is because, in order for you to have achieved this you must:

  1. Have stepped out of your comfort zone
  2. Be learning how to drop the struggle and move through the discomfort zone
  3. Be consciously creating the life that you want!

Now, that’s pretty inspirational!

Figure 1 As you move through your discomfort zone you regain the freedom to create the life that you want.

As one way to say thank you, they would like for you gain a sense of how your actions are positively affecting those around you. They want you to realise that your efforts are not only helping you to consciously create the life that you want; they are also inspiring others on a daily basis.  

How can one person’s actions inspire another? They would like to remind you of the heart-warming story of how Susan Boyle rose to fame. Susan Boyle, who has been called “a role model for everyone who has a dream” by her idol Elaine Page and voted by Time Magazine, in 2010, as the seventh most influential person in the world, was motivated to appear on Britain’s Got Talent in 2008 as one way to pay tribute to her Mother1. Even if you have already seen this footage, please click here to watch her first audition again.

Prior to her performance, Susan reflected in an interview with Waddell from The Mirror, that during her auditions people were laughing at her hair and her clothes and that her experience “was quite suffocating, almost as though I was an act in a freak show, and that hurt.”2 In another interview with Holmwood, from The Guardian3, She stated that she decided to win them around, in spite of their ridicule. “They didn’t know what to expect. Before Britain’s Got Talent, I had never had a proper chance. It’s as simple as that. You just have to keep going and take one step at a time and one day you will make it. You just don’t give up.” 3

Susan Boyle’s story provides a perfect example of the potential that we all possess. Although we may not all aspire to be a professional singer, like Susan, our potential lies waiting, just out of reach, beyond our discomfort zone. This potential is not unattainable, it’s sitting there waiting; waiting for us to actualise it. We actualise it by learning how to navigate the discomfort zone.

However, this is difficult because there is no right or wrong light that flashes on to tell us that we are making the best decision at the time. And, we can’t ‘Google Map’ our way through the discomfort zone. At this stage of the process, all that we possess as a compass and a source of motivation, are our values. However, at this level, this is actually all that we need.

Whenever you feel that you are starting to lose your way within the discomfort zone, stop and ask yourself the following:

“if I act on the thoughts and feelings that I have at the moment, will they take me towards or away from the life that I want?”   

If they take you towards, you are about to make the right decision; keep going.

If they take you away, you are about to make a choice that is going to reinforce your old habits and take you back to your comfort zone.

Whenever you find yourself at this point:

  • Stop
  • Take a breath and
  • Call upon your values as a source of inspiration.

Imagine that your values are there cheering you on like an ‘invisible support crew’, and ask yourself, “what would courage do now?”, or “what would freedom, respect or compassion do now?” Once you’ve found an answer, take action and see what happens next. And remember; there is no loss here. When you act in line with our values, you bring out the best version of yourself. Even if you make an honest mistake, that is just information to help you to find a more effective solution the next time.

Learning how to navigate the discomfort zone and act in line with your values, takes practise. Just like you wouldn’t expect yourself to run a marathon tomorrow, without training. Don’t expect yourself to do any of this work smoothly and easily, without practise. It takes a lot of courage to move beyond your comfort zone, let alone take the steps that you need to get through the discomfort zone. As Susan’s story shows, her potential did not just happen to her. She created it. She created it by stepping out of her comfort zone with an important value in mind (her respect for her Mother).

Susan’s awareness of this value then provided her with the motivation to persist, and find her best way to manage the hurt she was feeling (its normal to feel hurt by the targeted, inconsiderate actions of others = clean discomfort), even when she may have felt like giving up and returning to her comfort zone.

Imagine if Susan had let all of that targeted negativity get the better of her (i.e. she turned the hurt into validation that she was useless = dirty discomfort) and she had walked away from her dream. The world would have lost an incredible source of inspiration. The above YouTube clip has been viewed 2,281,937 times, as of March 7, 2019, and the name Susan Boyle has become synonymous with believing in, pursuing and achieving one’s dream.

When the going gets tough:

  • Don’t forget how far you have come
  • Don’t forget to look to yourself and to others for inspiration and most importantly
  • Don’t underestimate the effect that your actions are having on your own life and the lives of those around you.

Your actions are “paying it forward”, every single time you make a decision that takes you towards, and not away from the life that you want.

References:

1.         Wikipedia. Susan Boyle. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Boyle. Published 2020. Accessed 27/02/2020, 2020.

2.         Waddell L. BGT’s Susan Boyle says she felt like a ‘freak show’ before missing The Champions. The Mirror. 2019. https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/bgts-susan-boyle-says-felt-19318745. Accessed 27/02/2020.

3.         Holmwood L. Susan Boyle: a dream come true. The Guardian. 2009. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2009/apr/18/susan-boyle-britains-got-talent. Accessed 27/02/2020.