All hell breaks loose (‘This, too, shall pass’)


By Sue Ellen Haning


Welcome back, successful nuts.

Are you bosom buds with your comfort zones? Adept at challenging them?

Well, maybe that’s a bit lofty this early in the journey, but I do hope you have experienced the tense feelings of stepping outside the zone and waiting until the intensity subsides. In no time, you will be intimate with what used to be your nemesis.

From time to time someone will speak to me about this column. It goes something like this. “I cut your article out each week and send it to my sister, friend, cousin, etc., because he/she r-e-a-l-l-y needs it.”

I smile and say, “great,” and wonder if these people don’t think they have a comfort zone or if their reality is they are afraid to tackle it. How many fear your world will run amok if you dare yield to the yearnings within you? If you have been taking steps outside your comfort zone these past few weeks, about now all hell could be breaking loose within and without. Once you open yourself to change, horses come galloping in with wagon loads of opportunities that can snatch your breath away. You may be experiencing different emotions, unseemly feelings, thoughts, more desires than ever before. Your family and friends may be looking at you with a jaundiced eye. On some level they have noticed a change in you, and this takes them outside their comfort zones.

When all hell breaks loose it can look like this: Your homeowners’ association has started meeting more frequently and you aren’t invited, or they suddenly feel insecure and need to pass more regulations due to the fact that, for 20 years, you have exited your driveway from the left side and now your new, more spontaneous self sometimes exits from the driveway’s right side. Spontaneity is intolerable among these groups. Or, (and this is one of the hardest scenarios a successful nut has to accept), your kids think you’ve gone off the deep end. You look like mom or dad but you no longer behave like mom or dad because you are now living outside your comfort zone where life is most exciting. This is unsettling to them, and can be scary, considering these are the people who will most likely be choosing the nursing home where you will be hauled someday —  if you get my drift. The fact is, when you live outside your comfort zone, daily, it’s incredibly hard to maintain the appearance of having your marbles intact 24/7! Indeed, there are nuts out there, but our goal is to become a successful one. Big difference.

From within, you may feel all hell breaking loose inside your head. Static sparks may be bouncing off the walls of your gray matter since your brain likes being on autopilot and you have challenged that by requiring it to swim upstream, which likely triggers a fight-or-flight signal. When this happens, take a deep breath, step back until the adrenaline slows, and assure your head all will be well.

This next scene is my favorite: You may experience intense happiness daily, your energy level shoots through the roof, you feel (and look) 10 years younger, you can’t wait to get up in the morning, the smile just won’t leave your face, you may spend hours daydreaming, you have to look in the mirror frequently to make sure the person looking back is you. You experience a new-found confidence, “spontaneous” becomes your middle name, or, better yet, it could be all of the above. Becoming a nut is just plain fun. No one can turn your light on but you; no one can dim your light but you. This is all about you.

According to numerous studies conducted over decades, the No. 1 universal fear is speaking in public and No. 2 is death so, basically, people would rather die than speak in public!

Does the thought of speaking before a group of people scare you? What causes this fear? When you break the fear down to its lowest point, it is about you. You are afraid of messing up, losing your train of thought, suddenly saying something dumb or appearing foolish, and chances are you will, (at least in your own mind), but when you are asked to speak to a group, it is because they want to learn what you have to share with them. Think about that for a moment: They are not looking for a performance. They asked you because you know something they want to know.

Someone pointed out to me that all speaking is public speaking, whether you are speaking to one person or 1,000. If we can view all speaking as public, we’ve just canceled that fear, since we speak multiple times each day to a variety of people. When we realize all speaking is public speaking, maybe we will guard our words. I so admire those who think before they speak and I aspire to join that group some day.

This week, approach your CZ on any matter that takes you outside it, hang there long enough to feel at least some of the butterflies retreat, then drop back into your CZ, patting yourself on the back for the time you spent outside it. Program your phone, put a note on your desk, fridge or purse that simply says “15 seconds.” Each time you see this little memo, spend 15 seconds thinking about you speaking before a small group. It doesn’t matter if you ever have opportunity to actually do this. Fifteen seconds two or three times each day seeing you speaking before a group is the best investment in yourself you’ll ever make.

I leave you with these words of wisdom from Solomon, King of Israel, circa 970-931 B.C. “Who is the wise man? He who sees what’s going to be born.”

Guard your budding nut this week, and join me next time for: Don’t ‘But’ Your Nut.