When I first moved to Vienna Austria, going shopping for food was a nightmare. Everything was different. I could never find specific things I was looking for. I didn’t recognize many of the products on the shelves. Things were packed in different groupings to what I was used too. I struggled with the language. I received blank looks from the staff if I asked for something. And, to top it off, being 5 months pregnant at the time made me a touch emotional.
An overwhelming experience.
It sounds idyllic to be able to live anywhere you want to in the world and travel the globe, but, moving to a new country can be rather overwhelming. And it’s the things you take for granted back home that make it so hard: a foreign language, a different way of doing things, driving on the other side of the road.
It so falls in the category “Outside your Comfort Zone”. There are so many new things to learn, see and discover that our mind kind of shuts down, to protect us from overwhelm. After a while, I realised that shopping for groceries seemed easier than before and even better than that, I could find the stuff that I was looking for (mostly!)
A dip in Self-confidence
Collins English Dictionary defines comfort zone as a situation or position in which a person feels secure, comfortable, or in control. Bréne Browns goes on to define it as a place where we feel in control, and our uncertainty and vulnerability is minimized.
The homeostatic impulse of our brain – to keep everything the way that is; makes staying in our comfort zone our default behaviour. Don’t expect any growth to happen here, everything stays the same. You do the same things you always do, and think the same thoughts you always think.
While it keeps you emotionally safe for a while, it’s a bit of a bummer that you lose out on fun stuff don’t you think?
But it’s not just about having fun. (Even though that is good idea). When your thinking and your actions don’t change but everything else around you does, it has the nasty little effect of eroding your self-confidence.
As life happens to us, guaranteed there will be something that has the potential to affect your confidence levels.
Today I want to tell you about 5 things that you can do, to help you cope when your world is different.
#1 Admit that you are anxious, stressed out or overwhelmed.
By denying or suppressing our negative feelings we are in fact making them worse. Think of a pressure cooker that is building up, without any release. Admitting to yourself what you are feeling, allows you to stop hiding from yourself and face your fears with a little more ease.
#2 Come up with a strategy to help you cope.
When I started driving in Vienna, I was petrified. I had to get used to driving on the right-hand side of the road, with a left-hand drive and still keep a look out for trams – the total opposite of what I was used to. Getting my independence was important to me. I bought a driver handbook which I studied and I did EFT (link) tapping, each time that I stopped at a traffic light. It took a while, but I felt empowered throughout the process and oncoming trams don’t freak me out anymore!
#3 Go easy on yourself.
Do you know the saying: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Being outside of your comfort zone will require courage from you. Be kind to yourself, allow yourself to take baby steps. Avoid trying to conquer the world in a day. There’ll be time for that later.
#4 Get a support system.
Find friends! Look for groups in your community that have similar interests to you. Make a friend at your local gym. If you have young children, the easiest way to meet new people are at the playground. If you are really taking strain, consider getting some professional help. A coach or mentor can help you gain distance from your situation. When we are able to look at something objectively we often neutralise some of the perceived threats.
#5 Recognise your achievements.
Celebrate your small wins. Acknowledge yourself for making that call, having the conversation, taking the first step. Every achievement serves as a stepping stone that you can build on. It’s important to recognise how far you have come.
The important thing is to start somewhere. While none of these points are instant confidence creators (and don’t believe anyone who’ll tell you otherwise) they lay the foundation for strong coping skills.
And now, over to you. Here are your action items.
- Choose 1 thing from the list and implement it. Today.
- Tell me about your coping strategies in the comments below