When have you gone beyond your comfort zone or “out of your box” in your life? Take a second to think (insert Jeopardy music). Okay, are you back? 😊 I hope you were able to think of an example, but if not, do not fear! I’m here to tell you about my author experiences lately and to hopefully encourage you to take that leap into the great beyond.
Let me clarify why I use the word leaping instead of getting out of the box or stepping out of the box. First, I use the term because getting out of the box is way too normal for me and I’m a quirky lady. LOL! But second, I think sometimes people contemplate taking a risk, possibly peek over the side of the metaphorical box, then either decide to stay or leave. Leaping means you boldly go into the wild by following your gut and to me that’s a leap of faith. If you choose not to leap, there’s no judgment here. Of course, this post is about encouraging you to push yourself so I’m going to say try it out. Just once. Something small. Come on, please?
As I approach the release of my debut novel, THE DIFFERENCE, this year I’m finding more and more opportunities for me to leap than expected. I’m thrilled about it and more than ready after my long publishing journey, but there’s another side. Translation= facing anxiety provoking tasks.
Do any of you relate to feeling anxious leading up to speaking to the public? Where you will show your heart to strangers? Where you will talk to people you look up to in your field? Welcome to my world. I am now in the stage of preparing for author interviews to talk about my book, giving my art and soul (get it? Haha) for public viewing and criticism, and communicating with people I only dreamed of chatting with in the past. I’m SO lucky to be in this place, but guess who I have to keep pushing to say yes. Me!
During brainstorming for one of my potential release parties, I was asked by the host if I wanted to do something on camera and my panicked reaction slipped from my mouth without thinking. A loud “No!” spilled out, but seconds later I was able to process how wonderful the idea is and say “Sorry, that was my fear.” I’ll most likely engage in the genius suggestion whenever that party happens and urge myself to be vulnerable.
Even though avoiding is my usual first reaction, I generally do the fearful thing because I know it will be good for my big picture goal. For my book, I need to take every opportunity kindly given to me, and I have done so this whole time already, from my pitching business to even writing a novel at all. I can’t stop now when it’s most important. What I have been finding is that I freak out a little upon the idea of the opportunity, the moment I accept an invitation, or whatever the case may be. Then, I prepare to the max, while still anxious usually, sign on to do the event, for example, and… all is fine. In fact, I usually feel a huge sense of accomplishment and joy and realize that I worried for nothing.
You know by now that I am always genuine so I’ll be honest in the moment and share if something goes awry anyway. I’m not going to hide it, and people respond to that relatability. Isn’t it better to show we are all human and imperfect? So again, why stay in the box? It doesn’t make sense. Being free is so much better, especially when we free ourselves from the fear of sounding a certain unflattering way or making a mistake. Nobody cares as much as you. Nobody is as focused on you as you. Nobody will remember these silly moments, so let’s not let the possibility of them keep us from wonderful new experiences.
Instead of thinking about failing, I try to change my mindset to what beauty can come from taking the leap. I have the analytical side and the dreamer side in me, so I try to embrace the positive “what if” side for these circumstances.
A theory I use in my clinical setting as a psychotherapist is called *Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The basic idea is that thoughts lead to feelings which lead to behaviors. So, if you have an unhealthy or illogical thought, you may feel a certain negative way, which makes you act in a certain way. For example, if I think “I’ll make a fool out of myself if I do the live interview,” then I may feel sad, anxious, and fearful. The behavior is that I may decline the interviewer or maybe I will avoid even responding to the invitation. But I can try to challenge my thought with evidence from the past, such as how no disaster has ever happened during interviews, only good outcomes. I also may ask myself what I would tell a friend, because aren’t we easier on others verses ourselves? A final question I may ask is what is the worst, best, or most likely outcome that may occur? Well, in this case, the worst may be I that misspeak or some other insignificant action to everyone else. The best outcome may be that my book sales go through the roof because it was a fabulous interview! The most likely outcome may be that people enjoy the exchange and are interested in being in my author world, buying my book or otherwise. Ah, now there’s relief as a new feeling overtakes me and I may go ahead and say yes to the invitation.
Going outside of your comfort zone usually is where the magic happens. One type of faulty thought is trying to predict the future. The beauty in this is that if we avoid predicting by challenging the thought, we most likely will be pleasantly surprised by the unexpected possibilities and invite goodness to flow our way. Trusting the process is a big phrase in the therapy world, but I think it also applies to life. Sometimes we have to give in to the process and trust it is a good step along our path. That’s why I say leap, don’t inch out of the box.
So, as I venture into making reels on Instagram (eek!), doing live interviews (ahhh!), and soon going outside my natural comfort zone of asking “Hey, want to buy my book” instead of just giving it to people, I’ll continue to push myself and challenge anxiety provoking thoughts. I’ll also be thinking of you inspiring me. We will catapult out of our boxes. That’s right, we will bust out together. I know we can do it.
*The description of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is not to be used in place of therapy.
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