Welcome to the stretch zone

I was watching a pilates demonstration the other day and the teacher emphasised the repetition of small stretch movements to build core strength.  This reminded me of the trip into the stretch zone mentioned in a previous post, although this wasn’t the kind of stretch I’d had in mind then.

When I did my coaching course the stretch zone was a revelation to me.  In my mind there were two options – comfort and panic.  Why would anyone step out of comfort – it’s safe, familiar and predictable – it’s comfortable!  But it’s also hard to find any motivation or passion for life in this place.  How often are we stuck here because the mere thought of stepping into panic dampens any ideas, hopes or dreams we might have?

So there it was sitting between comfort and panic – the ‘stretch zone’ – this place of new experiences, learning, excitement and challenge.  I could see it, the place where the confident people hang out!

Sometimes it can feel like other people just cruise through life, the confident achievers.  But the reality is that people who appear confident feel anxiety, worry and fear but they keep going because they know that whatever happens they will cope.  Coping doesn’t mean that it’s easy or that they are always calm, self assured and in control.

Coping is about being able to recognise our personal strengths, resources and capabilities; it is about remembering that up until now we have coped – one way or another – and that we will continue to cope even if sometimes it doesn’t feel good.  It is also about developing strategies, based on what we have already learnt, to help us recover and start over again should we inadvertently find ourselves in panic.

We talk about ‘building confidence’ and this brings me back to the demonstration.  Watching it was inspiring but I’d be waiting for ever if I thought this on its own would make me any stronger or healthier.  In the meantime the more I watched from the comfort of my seat the less inclined I’d feel to give it a go. To make any difference we have to get on with doing it.

Every day we all have the chance to build our confidence.  The repetition of small movements into stretch builds strength and flexibility.  Just like exercise it gets easier and as we become aware of just how different it feels we become more confident to try new things. Before we know it our ‘comfort zone’ expands and those things that used to send us into a state of panic are a dim and distant memory.