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Finding the Courage to Live Out Loud, Starting Now

“To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.” ~Unknown

We’ve been taught that being negative means being realistic, and being optimistic means being unrealistic. We’ve been led to believe that you are “too old” or it is “too late” to follow your dreams. We’ve been taught to associate the feeling of doubt with failure.

It’s time to bust these myths!

We need to know, and let it be known, that doubt is just a feeling that comes to us when we are about to step out of our comfort zone.

We are all familiar of the good old comfort zone—it’s the tiny little circle where we all feel safe. But here’s the deal: When we stay in our comfort zone for too long, it begins to shrink.

We start to die—not a physical death, but a spiritual and emotional one.

We are so afraid to try something that creates feelings of doubt, for the fear of failure. As a result, we miss out on opportunities; we miss out on what could have been amazing, mind-blowing experiences; and eventually we start to live a life filled with what-ifs and regret.

Does this sound all too familiar?

I used to be controlled by my ego, at the expense of my happiness. The ego is a protective mechanism that tries to protect us from the unknown.

However, if we never venture, then we will never have any adventures, and we will never have lived.

I used to be afraid of situations where I had no control of the outcome. I avoided social gatherings like the plague for this reason; what would happen if I couldn’t interact with anyone?

One day I decided I had enough.

I stepped outside my comfort zone. I started to say “yes” even though I felt overwhelmed. I said “yes” without even knowing how I would bring myself to do what seemed to be a daunting task.

At one point, I was enrolled in BSchool, an online business course run by Marie Forleo. As I am a budding entrepreneur, I felt scared to interact with BSchoolers, as most of them already owned established businesses and brands.

When there was a Perth BSchool meet-up coming up, overwhelm started to pour in, and my ego said, “You can’t go! You don’t even have an established business!”

However, I soon discovered a simple method that I now use to assess every situation that is out of my comfort zone. The guide taps into your intuition and helps you assess if you should or should not proceed to step out of your comfort zone.

The guide:

  • Think about the situation in question.
  • Turn your attention inwards—focus on your breath, stop doing what you were doing, and just breathe.
  • Imagine it playing out in your mind.
  • Does thinking about it give you a sense of expansion (yes) or contraction (no)?

Sense of expansion: Your chest opens up. You feel joy, excitement, and anticipation (positive).
Sense of contraction: Your body posture slumps. You feel anxious and fearful (negative). 

You can make a solid decision by asking your intuition and tuning into what it wants.

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become.” ~Steve Jobs

So I tuned in—and the thought of meeting BSchoolers gave me a sense of excitement and anticipation. I quickly said, “yes,” without even knowing how I would get there and be at the event. Everything worked out magically—I went, and I now have incredible new friends.

These are the friends who I’ve been waiting for—the ones who are willing to take risks. The ones who uplift me so much, who inspire me to do things out of my wildest imagination; the ones who aren’t afraid to share their ideas because they know there is more genius where they came from.

I have gained so many genuine, authentic, true friends, all from stepping outside my comfort zone.

I am still no master of doing this, but we can all agree that now is the time for a paradigm shift.

Can you picture a life of living with what-ifs and regrets? What if I had the courage to do this? What if things could have turned out another way if only I tried?

I’m not sure about you, but I’m steering clear of that path. I am going on the road less travelled.

As Robert Frost said, “I took the [road] less travelled by. And that has made all the difference.”

This is it. There is no “later.” There is no waiting for the perfect time and circumstances.

There is only “now.”

This is the only life we have. This life is the only thing that is real. The present is the only moment that we can be certain is guaranteed.

Everything happens in the now.

Let this be the sign you’ve been waiting for. Let this be a sign for you to start living courageously.

It’s time to start creating your life as what you want it to be instead of creating it by default, living on autopilot, or being trapped by dogma.

You don’t need to wait for the right moment, the right situation, or the right tools to take control of your life.

Whatever you need is already within you, and the most important time in your life is right now.

The magic happens outside your comfort zone.

What is that thing you’ve been putting off because you’ve felt scared?

Do it.

Right now.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Let it begin now.

Photo by Brian Tomlinson

Avatar of Jia Ni Teo

About Jia Ni Teo

Jia Ni is an inspiration junkie, writer, healthy foodie, yogi, and the creator of the mind-body-soul blog Happy Healthy Abundant. She is currently studying holistic health coaching and nutrition. Her purpose is to guide and inspire people to live with bliss, health, and abundance. Visit Jia Ni at jianiteo.com.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • David L Q

    1,048 stairs. Tomorrow I hike Koko Head State park in Honolulu. Not bad for someone that was deep in depression last year. I’m currently doing something I never thought I could do…traveling on my own. This post truly hits home. I am truly out of my comfort zone, but here I am, alone in Hawaii. I am about to embark on something great, and I invite anyone who has been afraid to do the same. Live! Like Jia wrote…this is it…one life…live it! Mahalo.

  • Gwen R.

    “Let this be the sign…” OK. I’ll take it. So I’ve had a few items on my back burner checklist, and today they get moved to the front. What am I waiting for? David has it right: “…this is it…one life…live it!”

    Facing one terror at a time we learn that the remaining ones are not so fearsome and powerful after all.

  • http://www.vishnusvirtues.com/ Vishnu

    Fear of the unknown keeps us from becoming people we are capable of Jia Ni. But I’ve usually found that when we tackle something that’s unknown, do something outside of our comfort zone, take a risk – it ends up being the best decision of our lives. Great things happen in the unknown.

    And actually, when I think about it more, it is not really unknown, The outcome may be unknown but if we feel in our hearts that we are doing the right thing, we need to trust that instinct and pursue that activity, obstacle, challenge.

    That Steve Jobs quote resonates well with me. Thanks for the encouragement today.

  • Gem

    I really needed to read this today. A couple of years ago, I decided to do anything that I wanted to do. The problem was that I was reacting out of the grief I was experiencing as a result of my mother’s death. You see, I had been taking care of my mother in one way or another since I was 12 years old. (But that’s another story.) Bottom line is that I stopped listening to my body and I paid dearly for the poor decisions I made.
    Through it all I had been in a doctoral program and managed to survive that. Today I am in the process of writing my dissertation and I’m starting to see it actually take shape. This is the beginning of me doing what I have always wanted to do: add to the healing voice of the world. The good thing is that through my poor choices I learned that I couldn’t heal anyone until I healed myself. Every day I feel a little more prepared to take on whatever comes next without fear of anything or anyone. This article was a welcome re-enforcement.Thanks Tiny Buddah.

  • Gem

    Good for you! Keep on going! You ROCK!

  • Roberto

    Sorry but all these articles start to sound the same.

  • http://twitter.com/courage2write Alicia

    This was written for me, I just know it. :)

  • Nancy Mace

    I’ve been battling with depression for many many years. I have finally come to realize that even in the the way I’ve described it, as a battle, is in part the problem. I am learning, slowly, that to resist only intensifies the bad feelings, while acceptance and observation are the first steps towards emotional freedom.

  • http://www.madlabpost.com/ Nicole/TheMadlabPost

    This was a great read and reminder of the importance of living in the present and moving forward without limiting yourself. It also reminds me of Denzel Washington’s speech. In his commencement address to the class of 2011, actor Denzel Washington mentioned that very quote about doing what you never did to get something you never had.

    I also like the part of this post where you said ”
    I used to be controlled by my ego, at the expense of my happiness.” — that is a HUGE thing to focus on with regards to self-reflection. Cheers to you!

  • http://jianiteo.com/ Jia Ni

    Wow – That’s SO amazing and inspiring, David! Happy travels and I am so excited to hear about those great things that you’re living now and heading towards. :) x

  • http://jianiteo.com/ Jia Ni

    It is. :)

  • http://jianiteo.com/ Jia Ni

    You are guided only to what you need in this point of space and time. You only see what you need to see. Perhaps there is something here from you to learn, grow, expand and apply in your life? :) xx

  • http://jianiteo.com/ Jia Ni

    Thank you so much beautiful. So glad you enjoyed it. :) x

  • http://jianiteo.com/ Jia Ni

    Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story, Gem. I am so proud of you for going through that journey, and I’m sure your mom will be too. :) So true that we need to heal and make ourselves happy first, before we can heal and make others happy.

    Great things are ahead of you, and your positive outlook on your life is going to shine and uplift yourself, as well as others so much. :)

    Much love, Jia Ni xx

  • http://jianiteo.com/ Jia Ni

    Exactly! :) Fear is an illusion, only excitement in disguise.

    Amazing, I love and resonate with every word you say Vishnu! Thank you for inspiring me! xxx

  • http://jianiteo.com/ Jia Ni

    Awesome! “Facing one terror at a time we learn that the remaining ones are not so fearsome and powerful after all.” – Beautiful words Gwen!!!

    So excited for you now that you’re getting the ball rolling. Show the Universe your commitment and beautiful things and miracles will start showing up in your life! xxx

  • http://twitter.com/Rebecca_Hulse Rebecca Hulse

    Great article Jai Ni You are talented and yes I completely understand how scary B school is when you aren’t established, however look how much you grew. That would be my number one key to remember for ego management is remembering how much you could grow!

  • http://jianiteo.com/ Jia Ni

    Everything happens for a reason for you to learn and grow. Ease and flow is the best way to live life – I couldn’t agree with you more, Nancy! xxx

  • http://jianiteo.com/ Jia Ni

    Thank you so much Rebecca! There’s always space to grow and learn and expand. Isn’t that amazing? :) x

  • Mike

    Great blog. I may reread it the next I amafraid to take a risk. Very true and inspiring. You go girl!

  • http://jianiteo.com/ Jia Ni

    Thank you so much for your kind words, Mike! x

  • tlspatt

    This good except for the simple fact that one of the cardinal tenets of life is impermanence and many/most of us clam up and have feelings of contraction–anxiety and fear–at almost every change that is accompanied by a substantial level of uncertainty. I know we have to check in with our true selves before making any major “leap” but if I followed this simple model then I’d “take the road less travelled” even less often. For me, at least, I have to sift through that fear and anxiety–which are just my ego defense mechanisms–to see what’s at the root of that contraction, and even then taking the leap is often still terrifying albeit a bit less so.

  • JAhNoszh

    Inspiring article! For so many years I had troubles to show my creativity to the outside world instead of sharing what I’ve made. And giving joy not only to myself but also the ones who are enjoying my arty expressions. Many have encouraged me to do more with what I create (artistic photography). Since my early youth I had troubles in expressing myself, to be in the spotlichts taking all the attention. But! Since I pushed and visualised myself in full power, taking the steps and went outside many things have changed. I’ve searched for the right galley on art-fairs which gave my a feeling of relaxation and fitting the work I made. With sweat on my back I walked inside a gallery downtown Amsterdam where I live. The pressure was very high and besides this I waited for the right moment to ask if I could show my work. Some people where inside and could disturb me, so I waited, in a way relaxed because I was inside with my portfolio and the other hand so enormous nervous of what could happen. Then the moment was there and I asked to show my work! First thing the owner said this is not the way, it is the intention to send your email and web address. But now are  here you have a short moment to tell me what you want. So I did, in the begining unhandy, nervous but after some time more relaxed. All went very good and after 1,5 hours of talking I was invited to join. Not only this there was an upcoming artfair that I didn’t knew about, Eduard gave me the tip to send in a portrait series to a well known photography festival. To keep things short! I did it and it felt so amazing good! With strong headage of all the pressure I turned at home very happy and a fear less. All this fear was so not nessary to do! Now its mostly a pleasure to get out of my comfortzone. And sometimes one have luck the other time maybe not, it doesn’t matter you will grow and learn from it…

  • billfromny

    Two times in one week, I thrust a microphone in front of me. No matter how bad the speeches might have been, I got kudos. The most amazing thing is that both of them were not scripted at all. I could handle it!

    Come to think of it, the best results came from endeavors that were a little more difficult than others to muster.

    Thank you for making me realize it,even at this late date in my life, Ms Ni.

  • http://jianiteo.com/ Jia Ni

    You raise a brilliant point!!

    I definitely would say – Sit with that, that “fear”. It is often excitement in disguise. :) And then after sitting/meditating on it, you feel expansive, then you will know for sure in your heart that it is your true self. xxx

  • http://jianiteo.com/ Jia Ni

    You inspire me. Kudos to you. x

  • http://jianiteo.com/ Jia Ni

    WOW. Thank you so much for sharing your AMAZING story. Sending you lots of love and light for your creative journey, of which I am sure will be great beyond imagination.

    Embrace fear, and live courageously. xxx

  • Michelle

    Love it! When I started to read this article and it talked about how you are taught that positive means not realistic while negative means realistic….I automatically thought the timing couldn’t be better. I definitely am going through that right now and trying to sort out my life on the basis that if it seems really positive, when is the other shoes going to drop? When I take off my rose colored glasses that I’ve been told I always wear? I needed this article today. Thank you.

  • Liz

    Perfect message at such a perfect time. My goodness, I’ve been ready to live for 22 years of my life. 22 years! Time is up now. I have no excuses to put things off any longer. I’ve used up all my freebies in life and I have no other card to pull out of my back pocket when times get tough.

    Heart is empty, hands are empty, mind is empty. Time to be rejuvenated, filled with life and all of its possibilities. Thank you for your fantastic post!

  • Sarah

    Wow! That is awesome!!! I live on Oahu! Koko head is one heck of a hike..namaste to you and well wishes!

  • http://www.positivelyunconventional.com/ Kristen

    We’re taught that being negative means we’re being realistic and optimism is unrealistic. Truth. Who made the rules and why are we following them, anyway? I’ve been doing things my way for awhile – and people don’t always understand my path. But you know what, it excites me and keeps me inspired.

    It’s absolutely imperative to trust your intuition and let it guide you. If you’re thinking about doing something, but you haven’t quite decided yet – let intuition take you there. She always knows what is best for us.