Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Pain is a good thing

My first day at the lodge, together with a group of six people, we followed Romulo, our guide out in the jungle. As we made our way deep in the forest, we were taught several techniques such as building an animal trap and making a fishing rod. We were introduced to all the plants that are used as herbal medicines to cure headaches, skin irritation, malaria and many other diseases.

Making fishing rods

Learning to make fishing rods

Making animal traps

Learning to make animal traps

At some point, Romulo got all excited, “Look, look, there are army ants!” We all looked at each other, trying to understand why this was supposed to be so exciting.

He got down on the ground and picked two of them up on his fingers. He explained that an army ant’s grip with their jaw is so powerful that the natives used these ants to stitch up wounds. They would place an army ant over an open wound and squeeze it from behind, so the ant would bite down around the wound. This was their process of what we refer to as “stitches.”

In an effort to demonstrate this, Romulo, squeezed the back of both ants on his fingers. Sure enough, the ants gripped on tight with their jaws. He then had us pull on the ants’ lower body, so we can feel the power of their grip on his fingers. It was like pulling on a nail stuck in a wall.

Romulo had each of us tried this, giving us time to really feel the pressure. I could see the ant’s jaw digging in his fingers. It was like two sharp staples dug deep in each finger and having someone pulling at them. I just had to ask, “Romulo, isn’t this painful?” He looked at me, smiled and replied,

“This is a good pain. It reminds me that I’m alive.”

His words stuck in my mind throughout my entire stay in the jungle.

I lived with no electricity and no hot water. We had to fish for food and ate piranhas for the first time.

Fishing for Piranhas

Fishing for Piranhas

We made yucca bread by actually chopping down the yucca tree and making everything by hand.

Pulling the Yucca tree

Pulling out the Yucca tree

Pain is a good thing

Making the Yucca bread

I came up close with spiders, had all kinds of different species of cockroaches in my room and in my bed.

Pain is a good thing

One night, I walked in my room and had a little visitor that sent me running to Romulo for help. A snake was crawling up against a wall beside the door.

Snake in the Amazon

The little visitor in my room

I’ll be honest. I felt an anxiety and discomfort in the beginning. It’s normal, once you start stepping out of your comfort zone, you will experience things that are unfamiliar to you. This was certainly nothing I had ever experienced before.

As I kept living it, I realized that this pain actually made me experience feeling alive.

As I looked back to what my life was two years ago, I would not have given any of that up for just one day of being in an office answering emails. That pain reminded me that I had stopped living. Having to endure that kind of pain is nothing compared to the pain I endured in overcoming challenges of learning a new language, adapting to different cultures and all the mistakes of having to start over in achieving something that would make me better.

I understood what Romulo was trying to tell me.

How about you? Have you endured pain that reminded you that you’re alive?

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This entry was posted in Cleansing Your Beliefs and tagged , .

6 Responses to Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

  1. I try to get out of my comfort zone all the time. It has served me well for 63 years. Great article! Our modern lives have removed us from the natural environment; our technology exacerbated our hubris and dehumanized us. Nothing in most of our 200,000 year history as Homo sapiens living in small Hunter and Gatherer groups has prepared us for the artificial and disconnected lives most people in First World countries live today

  2. Antonia says:

    Hi Sylvain,

    Thank you so much for sharing your personal experience! “Staying hidden in a corner afraid of the world out there isn’t a life, it’s pure existing” Beautifully said.

    You have really taken some major steps in your life putting you out of your comfort zone, it’s the reason why you have so much to share now:)

    P.S. looking forward to hearing about journey as you make your way to Mexico!

  3. jean kukla says:

    I think maybe it will be my turn soon; you just have to be in the right frame of mind in order to be able to let go like that and to actually appreciate it on the spot and looking back realizing how limitedness life has to offer in terms of experience…very inspiring as always!

    • Antonia says:

      Hi Jean,

      I know what you mean about being in right frame of mind. It all starts by asking yourself the right questions….

      What do I have to do to make this happen?
      Your mind will shift into searching for ways to make it happen:)

      Can’t wait to hear about your turn:)

  4. Sylvain says:

    Yes, I totally agree.

    I haven’t made anything so out of the box… yet (let’s talk again after a few months in Mexico), but in many ways, I do.

    In pain? Certainly… with extensive sunburns and a stretched muscle in a heel, I have been in pain most days this month. But since I set myself a fast pace trip for now, I live with pain and visit cities. If I were at home, I’d probably stay in bed, resting.

    Out of my comfort zone? I did on many occasions, in various contexts.

    First, by staying at people’s place through the Couchsurfing network. I’m not someone who likes to bother people, preferring to do everything by myself. I never had any sleep over a friend when I was kid, or adult. So, spending a few nights in a stranger’s home who opens their home for me is definitely out of my comfort zone. But I force myself to do it, not only for savings, but only to force myself to meet new people along my route. Sometimes, the privacy is good, other times it’s non-existent. But you have to deal with that too.

    I’m afraid of heights… but I’m generally okay on top of buildings, knowing there are 70 or 100 stories of steel below my feet. I forced myself to be in uncomfy situations by going on a cement pedestal in Pittsburgh to take pictures of the city underneath. I was also quite uncomfy while being on top of the Arch in St. Louis… but I did it, because I knew I had to do it. The photographer in me was forcing me to do another step ahead. Yes, I was scared on both occasions but when I touched the ground afterwards, I was happy to have had a little victory against my fear.

    One said: “The quality of your life is directly proportional to the degree of incertainty you can live with”, I know it applies to fear as well.

    I’m not a daredevil and I will never be one… but staying hidden in a corner afraid of the world out there isn’t a life, it’s purely existing.