Social media pages are full of advice to face your fears, do something that frightens you and challenge yourself out of your comfort zone.
The advice goes on to promise great rewards for your effort.
It sometimes has me wondering what’s so bad about being comfortable.
THE SIMPLE PLEASURE OF MASSAGE
As he walks out the door for his regular (monthly) massage, I all at once envy him and admire his bravery.
Hubby doesn’t consider it a brave act, more a necessity as he spends so much time in front of a computer for his job.
The benefits of massage are so recognised now that we can even claim the cost on our health insurance.
Sadly, the medical fund doesn’t hand out bravery awards for the act.
Why does it take courage you may ask?
FACING YOUR FEARS
It’s a funny thing. I love flying, public speaking doesn’t daunt me, I have respect, but not fear, of heights and I love the dark. They are the top four fears for we humans, according to the Self Help Collective.
The fifth is intimacy and I truly love that, with those I trust.
I remember my first massage decades ago when I was a teenager. It was a spa like birthday treat shared with my Mum.
We walked into the classy Sydney club that offered ‘the most amazing’ massages to its members, for a small fortune.
I was escorted to a small cubical among many in a row, a curtain acting as the door, by a prune-faced older lady (she was probably younger than I am now, but everyone looks old when you’re a teenager).
She tersely told me to completely undress and lay on the little cot and cover myself with the blanket provided.
Completely undress? You mean everything? In front of this cranky woman? Right away the panic set in.
I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t struggle with the body image issues that plague most teenagers. I don’t believe I suffered from this anymore, or less than others adjusting to the transformation from child to adult.
The only thing I can put the panic down to is some distressing childhood experiences I refer to in my post, Why Parents Need to be Detectives.
Clothes can be your armour – the last little barrier between you and the baddies out there.
Despite my misgivings, I did what I was told and tried my very best to relax. That was, after all, the point.
Flash forward a few decades and I’m a mum with teenagers. A good friend has started up a massage business and gifts me the chance to destress at her hands.
I have, to be honest, I wasn’t ecstatic about the idea, but was determined to get a grip and save her feelings. I also figured my chances of actually enjoying the experience were greater, given we had the closeness of friendship.
That would have been the case too – I could feel my aching muscles relax – if it hadn’t been for the fact her own teenage sons came bounding home early and were noisily raiding the kitchen as I lay on the massage table nearby, with only a thin sheet between me and them.
DONNING MY COURAGE CAPE
Flash forward again to a few years ago and a trip to Thailand with Hubby and a couple with whom we are friends.
My female friend and I kept talking about enjoying the bliss of a Thai massage, recognised worldwide for being wonderful.
We talked but procrastinated until it was time for her to leave. We were staying an extra few days and on the final day, I decided to don my courage cape and have a massage on the beach. This seemed really safe. No need to undress.
I didn’t realise I’d be escorted to her table just beside the busy main road, surrounded by Thai men doing not much of anything but chatting to her in a language I didn’t understand, stopping only to burst into hysterical laughter at some funny joke. Needless to say, this was not the relaxing experience I was seeking.
A trip to Bali last year inspired another adornment of the courage cape. I refuse to be defined by my past and sometimes feel like a freak to be so tense about something that most people find relaxing.
The first massage was all that I had hoped for. A beautifully decorated and scent filled room for couples. Hubby was having one on the table next to me. Everything is better when he is there.
I actually relaxed! I was reaping the benefits of stepping outside my comfort zone because I was not only relaxed, I was proud that I had finally slain that fear demon.
Armed with this new bravery – no courage cape needed for the next dose of comfort outside my comfort zone – we rebooked.
This time, it was different. We were escorted to separate rooms and my masseuse came with a scowl.
Her expression reminded me of my first massage and the fear demon returned. I came out of that session tenser than when I went in.
SOMETIMES THE COMFORT ZONE IS THE ONLY PLACE TO BE
Why am I sharing this you may ask?
To illustrate that everyone’s comfort zone is different and what terrifies some relaxes others. To point out that facing your fears doesn’t automatically mean you beat them. And that’s OK.
For some people just getting out of bed and facing the world is terrifying – that’s their bungee jump. Some days they’ll make it, and some days they won’t. And that’s OK.
Just breathing in and out is a challenge for some. And that’s OK.
Sometimes we need the cushion of our comfort zone. And that’s OK.
What are you frightened of?
Wishing you a comfortable and gleeful week, Tamuria.