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I was always an unusual girl. My mother told me I had a Chameleon soul, no moral compass pointing to north, no fixed personality; just an inner decisiveness that was just wide and is wavering across the ocean. And if I said I didn’t plan for it to turn out this way I’d be lying.

Lana Del Rey – Ride

Don’t…take this seriously. Be frivolous. Extravagant. It is brainstorming time and the rules are that you can’t say “no” while you’re coming up with a list of things you want to do. If you absolutely must, you may weed out later. Fear can shut you down. This is about getting out of the box and giving yourself a star to aim for.

Write down anything that you’ve held back, whether from feelings of mild resistance or outright terror. If you need some kind of random number for structure, try seventeen. It doesn’t hurt to go over or under, but you want to have enough wishes to play with.

When you’re done, and you’ve given it a minute or two to settle (there may be some stragglers to the party), rank items by intensity, zero to three. Note the number next to the action. Zero means “This doesn’t scare me at all. I could start right now.”  One translates to “I have a little resistance.” Three is for “This is really hard. It will take a lot of effort or time to build up to this.” Two is a catch-all for anything that falls in the middle or when you are unsure. If you have anything on your list that literally makes you panicky, put a 5 next to it and mentally set it aside. There are some specific, very effective strategies for dealing with these that will be covered in future posts.

Look your list over. If it is mostly threes or fives, try to come up with some more not-so-scary wants. One purpose of this list is to create “weights” for your bravery training. You’ll need plenty of lighter weights while you build up your strength.

You may need to loosen up a bit. Humor is great for this, so taking a break to watch ridiculous kitten videos, read Calvin and Hobbes, or whatever makes you chuckle, works well. When you come back, think of actions a five year old version of yourself might add. Write them down.

Why use your own list instead of a premade set of exercises to “enlarge your comfort zone?” Several reasons:

  1. People who make these kind of exercises base them on their own comfort scale, or on practice with other people. They will be poorly balanced for you. Some things may be too easy, some too hard, or just a bad fit for your personality.
  2. “Enlarging your comfort zone,” is pretty abstract, even euphemistic. Confronting fear can be challenging. You want to have the emotional electricity to help you carry you through it.
  3. The Payoff. If you do the work to pass through fear, you get what you want!

More on how to use the list soon.

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