Activities to Take the Pain Out of Change



How confident you feel has a lot to do with your ability to handle change. Activities that broaden the mind and your experience make you more adaptable and more tolerant to change - which is another way of saying they increase self confidence.

Beyond the Comfort Zone

Let's see how stretching yourself through the activities you choose can take the pain out of change.

Consider the diagram on the left. The whole circle, including the smaller black circle, represents the sum total of all your experiences. The black circle is the zone of comfortable experience that you like to remain within.

The diagram on the right shows where activities have expanded the world of your experience (greater circle). As a result, your zone of comfort (black circle) has also been enlarged.

Many of those things that caused you anxiety and discomfort before, now fall within your newly-defined comfort zone.

Ok, that's the technical part over! Let's get on to the fun part...

Change can be Enjoyable!

A while ago, an activity that my husband and I were heavily engaged in, came to an end. It left a big space. We did not rush to fill it immediately and took the opportunity to consider what we might like to replace it with. In the end we evolved a new hobby that combined getting exercise (something we felt we needed more of) with a current interest (photography) and a new focus (bird spotting).

The result has been huge enjoyment, greater fitness, acquisition of new skills (you try photographing a thing that is small, distant and moving!), new knowledge (as we try to identify the critters!), we meet new people on our jaunts and get to fill ourselves with great experiences.

I only relate this anecdote to illustrate the point that you can design activities to be good value both in terms of building your resources, and providing an endless supply of new experiences. In constantly going to different places, being in new sets of circumstances and meeting new people, you get to feel more comfortable with change and more confident in dealing with it. Change also becomes associated in your mind with enjoying yourself.

Stretching the Boundaries

Many games and puzzles have the effect of expanding the mind and developing creativity. Here is a puzzle to start you thinking...

Draw the diagram of nine dots below. With a pen connect the dots with four straight continuous lines without taking the pen off the paper.

Are you stuck? For the answer click here. Breaking Fresh Ground

Ok, you've stretched your mental muscles a bit. Now it's time to be active and flex your physical ones.

Choose a couple of activities you think you might enjoy which represent new ground for your experience. If you find it difficult to come up with fresh ideas, this website may give you some inspiration: www.leisureconsult.freeserve.co.uk Incorporate the new activities into your lifestyle and note how the change feels. It may take a little time to fully appreciate a new hobby or interest. If however, after a reasonable trial, you find you do not like one of them, it's ok to replace it with something else more agreeable.

Sometimes however, it is not a case of finding new activities but of modifying already enjoyable ones so they become as new. Here are a few quirky suggestions to help jog your creativity.

Seeing Things in a New Way

If you have a digital camera and only dust it off to take on holiday or for family weddings and christenings, this activity might just suit you. Choose a theme and see how many pictures you can take that portray different aspects of that theme. For example, you might take photos where the main subject is one of many shades of red (or green, blue, yellow). Try being creative with: water, reflections, steps, circles, shadows, curves or straight lines, as your theme.

The real benefit is in the looking rather than in refining your photographic talents. The act of searching for subjects that are unfamiliar to you or seeing familiar ones in new ways helps you to go beyond your usual patterns of thinking and responses to change.

Through the Eyes of a Child

The feelings you associate with change can become more positive by developing a sense of child-like curiosity. Look for activities which arouse curiosity in you. Start a line of thinking with the words: 'I wonder' and add one of the following words: if, what, why, how, where, when or who. This will help you to get into the mode of interest or enquiry.

For example: 'I wonder what it would be like to ride my bike into town'. If you usually drive, using your bike or some other mode of transport can give you a stimulating new view on the same world. Take a train or bus ride and see how the experiences differ.

'I wonder what it must be like for the person who lives in that house' can lead you to put yourself into another person's shoes. 'I wonder where that road goes to' may lead you to explore and discover a new place. And so on....

A Bit of a Dare

Try and find activities that would require a little bit of daring for you to do. For example, you might not like to get your feet wet. Crossing a shallow stream on stepping stones may represent a small risk since slipping into a few centimetres of water is not going to endanger or kill you. You will however, feel the importance of keeping your balance to avoid wetting your feet. There's just the right amount of tension for the purpose of this exercise!

You now have the opportunity to turn the small sense of risk into a feeling of excitement, rather than anxiety. If you succeed in getting across and remaining dry, you will also have the feeling of achievement. If you get wet, you'll learn that a bit of risk-taking can be quite harmless. Even if it goes wrong, it's not the end of the world!

While you are wet, you will have nothing to lose in trying again if you wish!

This will only be a helpful activity if the risk factor is low. It is not intended to encourage dangerous risk-taking where fear would be completely appropriate for you to feel.

Keeping at It

There are an infinite number of ways you can find to develop your capacity for change. One can be endlessly creative in finding activities to support growth of self confidence in this way. It is important to remember though, that if you STOP pushing out into the world of experience and extending your comfort zone, for any length of time, self confidence begins to diminish. So keep at it!

Have Fun!

These activities should be fun and enriching. If they are not, change them. Adults don't get to play often enough, so indulge yourself in the spirit of playfulness and humour. It really is possible to grow in self confidence through joy!


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