How Doing Something Stupid Can Change Your Perspective

About Clay Andrews

Clay Andrews He currently works together with his girlfriend Mika to share a message of love and acceptance to people on the relationship advice blog, The Path to Passion.

If you'd like to take part in a revolution by opening your heart to all forms love and acceptance, visit The Path to Passion to get started.

I had never been so afraid to leave the house before. Could I really step out the door like this?

Finally, I worked up the courage to turn the doorknob with the hand that was wearing a weight lifting glove, open the door, and step outside. This was it, no turning back now.

What was wrong with me? Why was I so afraid to go outside?

You see, I wasn’t always an agoraphobe. I was only terrified because of what I was wearing at the time.

I had on a stocking cap, a pair of coke bottle glasses I had from childhood, a red button-up collared shirt with a yellow T-shirt from a bachelor party on over it that proudly read, “Big Mistake” on it below a picture of two newlyweds. I wore a pair of grey shorts (it was winter at the time) held up by rainbow belt that somehow found its way into my wardrobe, one black dress shoe with a white sock, and one white tennis shoe with a black sock. And of course, the lone weight lifting glove on my right hand.

I was a fashion abomination.

What is it that drives an otherwise average guy to put on the most horribly mismatched clothes he could find in his closet and go for a walk on a cold winter evening?

Frankly, I was frustrated and fed up. I had always been shy and reserved. Everyone knew me as the quiet guy. I never spoke up at meetings at work, I had a hard time making friends, and I wasn’t exactly what you’d call a Don Juan with the ladies.

I was afraid of being the center of attention. It scared me to death. The thought that everyone;s eyes would be on me made my hands sweat and butterflies churn in my stomach.

And to be honest, this was the best idea I could think up. I figured if I could put myself in a situation where there was no way to back down and stay in my comfort zone, then surely I could overcome this fear.

As I walked down the street, I couldn’t help but feel very anxious. I saw a couple in front of me, headed my way. I fidgeted, trying to tuck my gloved hand into my pocket to hide it, only to realize that it revealed more of my bachelor party T-shirt. And, of course, there was no way to hide my mismatched shoes.

I braced myself and I walked past them, preparing for some kind of snide comment or snickering. But it didn’t come. They didn’t seem to pay any attention to me whatsoever.

I breathed a sigh of relief and marched on, turning to go up to a somewhat busy street filled with shops and bars.

Once I hit the main street, my anxiety was really screaming at me. “Go back home where it’s safe!” It told me. “Why are you doing this stupid thing? What if you run into someone you know?”

But I knew that if I was ever going to overcome my shyness and get used to stepping out of my comfort zone, I had to keep going.

I marched down the main street, walking by bars, restaurants, and coffee shops. I was worried that a passing stranger on the street, or a group of people having a smoke outside would see me as I walked by and say something. It was clear that I was drawing attention, but no one said anything.

It was at about this point, that a switch seemed to flip inside my mind. Suddenly, I wasn’t scared of this anymore. Instead, I felt… excited!

I actually wanted to get some kind of reaction of someone as I walked past them. I actually felt disappointed when I wouldn’t get any reaction at all. I purposefully crossed the street just to walk by more people at times, but still nothing. I couldn’t believe this, but I actually went from completely dreading being the center of attention to actually going out of my way to be it.

I finally returned home about an hour later after having a blast doing something that scared me to death not too long ago. Over the next few days, my fear was completely gone. I felt more compelled to speak up, push myself further, and pursue things that used to scare me.

That night, I realized that fear and excitement were actually the same feeling, we merely label one as a bad thing and the other as a good thing. You can easily transform fear by changing your perception of it (or apparently wearing a bunch of hideous clothes and going for a walk).

Have you ever done something crazy like this to break through a limiting belief (or am I just insane)?

Either way, if you ever see me walking down the street, I hope you stop and say “hi” no matter how strange my clothing might be.

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Some Amazing Comments

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Comments

  1. Hi Clay,

    Everything starts stupid ! good example would be facebook and today it reached the heights. I think apart from stupidity a bit of luck also matters…because not every stupid things are becoming well. Nice to read your craziness.

    Thanks.

  2. If you keep on doing what you fear the most then the fear will fear itself.

    Zero Dramas

  3. yeh, getting out of comfort zone is not always easy. awesome gesture for doing that
    thanks for giving us courage all the time
    Noch Noch
    Noch Noch | be me. be natural. recently posted..letter to my 16-year-old

  4. What you did required great courage. You could have easily chosen to remain safely inside your comfort zone, but you made a commitment to do what would serve you better from that point forward. Kudos to you!
    Nea | Self Improvement Saga recently posted..Shovel the Sh!t Out of Your Life

  5. Congratulations for stepping out of your comfort zone. I believe staying long in our comfort zone leads to stagnation. We need to continuously stretch ourselves to reach new heights.
    M. Tohami recently posted..The Three Most Popular Ways Of Turning Your Passion Into Profits

  6. “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” (Eleanor Roosevelt) This may sound strange but Clay, you somehow became a ‘role model’ to me, ha. You see, I’m a shy and introvert person and what you did is so brave to me. I think we can try to overcome fear by doing things repeatedly, carry on even we are scared. Thanks Clay!
    Noel recently posted..Inspirational Ecards

  7. Rachael Moody says:

    I enjoyed reading your article VERY much and would like to share a story of my own. some may consider it too personal but along with the idea of “do something that scares you” there is also “tell your traumatic stories until they become just…stories” And to me, its just a story, nothing to hide or tip toe around anymore.
    I was sexually abused as a child, but through the love and support of many friends and family I became O.K. after the trauma and soon led a normal life. I say O.K. because even though I was able to function normally after a while, I found out years down the road that there were still deep emotional/psychological scars that lay untouched. I didn’t date until I was 18yrs old and when I did, I found that the closer I got (emotionally or physically) to anyone I cared about, I ended up shutting down more and more. The further my relationship got with my boyfriend, the more distant I would treat him. It was maddening for both him and me because I didn’t know what to tell him about why I seemed like Dr. Jekyl and Mrs. Hyde.
    Eventually, I got fed up with my mind and body playing revolt against me. I found a guy friend, told him my problem and asked him if he would help me with my fears. My mother would never approve of me kissing a boy who I had no relationship with but i needed to conquer my inner monster, face it, embrace it really. So despite my shaking hands and mind locked down in fear, I went for it! We kissed on his couch for a good twenty minutes and by the end my heart was racing but not in fear. I never hung out with that boy again but after that the spell was broken (by a kiss, haha sounds like a fairy tale almost) Ever since then I’ve learned to face and embrace the things that scare me. I ride roller coasters and speak up in public! (both scary still but not as much) I am now approaching my 5th Anniversary to an amazing man who is both gentle and strong enough to help me face my own fears and you know what? Before, I thought of myself as broken inside, but going through the fires of your own fear always brings you out stronger on the other side! I am eternally grateful for my life experiences that led me here… ESPECIALLY the so-called scary ones.

  8. Michaelann says:

    When I was young I used to dress to be “different” as did my friends. What we found was people just smiled at us or tried to ignore us! At most they might have commented on a piece of jewelry or something odd we wore. Different is the same. It made me totally tolerent of the pink hair, tatoos and nose rings of the kids today. It all means nothing but “look at me! I’m somebody too, I’m not invisible!” The “Lady Gaga” “monsters” of today…to say be yourself, whatever it is, it doesn’t matter, it awakens YOU. We all grow into who we really are sooner or later, here or elsewhere I’m sure. Nice article.

  9. Hi Clay,

    This was a brilliant and inspiring post. I could relate to what you said in so many ways. I used to be shy and reserved. I would avoid people because I was afraid I would stutter. I was living life in constant anxiety. And then I decided to change. I would literally walk up to total strangers on the street and force myself to talk and start conversations, again and again, week after week, until my fear of speaking began to dissolve and my self-confidence began to increase.
    Hiten Vyas recently posted..Justin Mazza reviews EmpowerHour coaching!

  10. If you ask me, I’d say you’re insane, but in a positive way. The fact that you could decide to do what you feared the most actually made you look like a maniac doing what used to seem impossible to you.

    I guess the key to overcoming your fear is to actually do what you fear. As Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear- not absense of fear.”
    Lanre recently posted..Excerpts From Great Minds- What Does Goethe Mean?

    • Hi Lanre,

      You definitely wouldn’t be the first person to call me “insane” :)

      What you wrote reminds me of the book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. It’s an amazing book, if you haven’t read it.

      Thanks for the comment.

  11. Hi Clay,
    I like the courage that you displayed here. Often times doing the thing that we are afraid to do can release a lot of fears that we have.
    Justin Mazza recently posted..Having Integrity – Mutual Respect – and my Aflac Experience

    • Hi Justin,

      Yes, absolutely. I believe a lot of people hold a great deal of emotional energy trying to hold up the “dams” of beliefs about what they can and cannot do.

      Thanks for your comment.

  12. This post was sweet and hilarious at the same time. The image of you walking around in your unique choice of clothes had me in stitches. I appreciate your honesty and love you message.

  13. An unusual way of dealing with shyness. The thing that stands out for me is your expectation of getting attention there is an old saying that certainly sprang to my mind. Thank you for posting

  14. I thought I was brave to stand up in front of an audience the first time I spoke in public. A good friend pointed out the fact that my bravery kicked in when I made the actual commitment to speak.

    I think you were brave long before you realized it. It takes courage to do things you fear. The moment you stepped out the door, you’d already exercised courage, it just took you a couple of more realisations to really see what was already in you. Great story with a great message, Clay.
    Jason Scott recently posted..11 Statements that Comfort Kids

    • Hi Jason,

      Thanks for the comment. I like that idea of bravery starting before the “event.”

      For me, I’ve found that committing to something in a way where you can’t back down is one of the best ways to force a change when you feel like it’s going to be a real struggle.

  15. BriaN @ progressive transformation says:

    I used to experience extreme paralysis of speaking when I experienced anxiety. I found the best thing to do was to put myself in situations where I new I was going to have to speak. It was the scariest and best thing I ever did.

    It’s amazing how pushing forward can help alleviate the heart beat and the incessant negative thoughts.

    Thanks for posting this!

    -Brian

    • Brian,

      In design school I used to have to give presentations on a regular basis. The first few times were completely crippling, but after a bit you get used to it :)

      I believe the same can be said for a lot of situations.

  16. Hi Clay,
    You article is interesting but I would like to know how to reconcile what has been said with two quotes one normally learns at school viz(i)
    (ii)
    Are we prisonners of what we have been taught ?

    • Hi Kong,

      I’m not sure I quite follow what you’re saying, but I believe that you’re only a prisoner of what you’ve been taught if you let yourself. In my opnion, ll it takes is enough vision to see another way of living life and the courage to work to get it.

      I hope this makes sense.

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