• Meg

Lessons from the Ponies: Stretching the comfort zone

For those of you that live locally, you may have seen me this winter riding and leading my two ponies along the country lanes.

(For those that aren't horsey, this means riding one and leading another, which allows me to exercise both at the same time.)

At the start of the winter I found myself making excuses as to why I couldn't ride with them both, the weather, time, energy, I'd maybe exercise one or feel apprehension about taking both. It didn't surface in me as a feeling of fear, but the uncomfortable feeling of the new and unknown was enough to cause me to place blocks in my own way.

As I rode out on Friday, taking full advantage of husband being off work and disappearing for a good few hours, with a pony in each hand to keep me company I found myself thinking how the thought of what I was doing now only a month or so on would have been a block in my mind back then.

As we wandered down the lanes I pondered the thoughts of how we can so easily avoid something because it feels hard or uncomfortable only to be unconsciously conceding to the human nature of taking the path of least resistance and searching out comfort. It occurred to me that we can be told, if it doesn't feel right then it's not, but what if we never did anything that felt uncomfortable? What if we always stayed within our comfort zone, would that make us happy?

A few more miles down the lanes, I came to the conclusion that in life its vital to stretch our boundaries of comfort, just enough so that we continue to grow, but not too much that we break, that we ask ourselves to sit in the discomfort for a while and see where it takes us.

This is exactly how I work with my horses, asking small increases of their comfort zone but not too much that they get overwhelmed.

If we don't stretch that zone what in fact happens is the zone shrinks, the area where we feel able to cope gets smaller and our resilience gets less. You may have felt that a little in lockdown, where physically we aren't going very far you may find that the thought of travelling further than you have been suddenly feels a little more challenging than it did when you were doing a lot of stretching, so now where we may be sitting in our comfort zone quite easily its so important to notice when we resist that stretch of the zone, where we choose the easier option.

Whether it's with your horses, doing something different or just in your own life, remember just because it's uncomfortable doesn't mean you shouldn't do it.

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