“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” or perhaps you prefer, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stranger”. These are sayings you should have heard if you grew up in the west, or at least with the later saw Batman the Dark Night. They suggest that if you survived an ordeal real or perceive you will either become a stronger better version of your self or something else, perhaps twisted.
How about this one? “Fortune favors the bold” which suggest only those who risk will succeed. Yet, evolutionary, humans are averse to risk. It is built into us in fact. If you taste something bitter, you might spit it out because our bodies are saying if I dont know what it is, it must be poison. Yet through our minds, we can eventually tell our bodies, no idiot, I love coffee, I am going to drink it no matter if you think it is bitter or not.
If evolution then builds internal pathways to avoid risk, and protect ourselves then how do we evolve and grow?
The answer must be the outliers, those who learn and grow from their mistakes. It did not kill but, that was a bit too risky let’s try it a different way. And so it goes until a new pathway is formed and growth can occur.
These sayings may be cliche to you, old, boring and pointless, yet idioms such as these have been around in most cultures for a long time. Perhaps there is some wisdom in these ancient, or not so ancient re-works of the sayings.
All these self-help gurus, after all, seem to preach similar things, like believe in your self, and just do it, or think positively.
The truth is thought its often much closer to what “doesn’t kill you makes you stranger”, that is to say, you may become a stranger to the self you once were. The hope though is that the stranger of now is a stranger that you like. And that you can look back at your old self and say ” I can’t believe I used to be so shy, so risk-averse, so unadventurous and so unwilling to challenge myself. I can’t imagine how I even lived life at all.”
That’s because you probably were not living, you were just surviving.
Unlike what so many self-help gurus preach the truth is, the path to a better you is stepping way outside of your comfort zones so that you can be the outlier that forges those new paths internally and externally. The fact is that the journey will be fraught with perils, both real and imagined and it is always easy to stop turn back or take the easier route.
For some challenging their comfort zones will be easy, perhaps your genetics allow it, or perhaps challenging your comfort zones is your real nightmare because something happened to you that you dont want to face yet you know that the only way forward is through. Who though, has the strength to fight their demons, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly so that they may find their peace?
The answer is you! if you want. It is yours for the taking.
Sometimes, people seek help to be better versions of themselves, but they dont really change. It’s only those who embrace the discomfort and charge through it that eventually see the clearing on the other side.
As a Krav Maga instructor, I have seen this many times with my students over the years. And even more, I have seen it in myself.
I have seen students be challenged hard, physically and emotionally and disappear on me. I have seen students challenged hard, physically and emotionally and they embrace it and come back for more.
I have challenged my self hard, physically and emotionally and I am still here, Still growing and still working on it because even if I dont like it, I find my self constantly putting myself in situations of discomfort challenging my self more and more.
I am not gifted genetically, and physically endeavors are a struggle for me. I am not gifted with words for I often offend and push away, yet I challenge myself to be an instructor and learn to be better to communicate to help those who want. I am not particularly strong emotionally day to day for I wear my emotions on my sleeves and instead of keeping my mouth shut for the sake of politics or being liked I push the boundaries with people and learn to tweak my self day by day so that perhaps I can get the results I want a little more each time.
But one thing I can say for myself it is that only through challenging my comfort zones today, and now, that I can look back at the stranger I used to be and say I dont know you, but because of you, I got here today.
I only wish that I had known what I had known now, then, so that I could have grown faster but the path to fighting your comfort zone is fraught with perils and for some the journey is quick, and others long and arduous. I can only hope the hard my journey that more I will learn and grow and the better I will be able to help you challenge your comfort zones so that you to may learn to grow and walk in peace.
So move the boundary of your comfort zone forward a little bit every day, so that instead of surviving you can have the space to be free and truly live.