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Breaking Free from Your Comfort Zone is not just about your will to do it, it’s about learning the Techniques and Strategies that are going to produce lasting change.

Last week we worked on getting the hammer out and CRUSHING OUR COMFORT ZONES!

This week it’s all about technique and strategies how to BREAK FREE and HOW TO BE FEARLESS!
Click below to hear this episode!

Show Notes

Till GrossAfter studying psychology and apprenticing under some of the most influential therapists Till H. Gross founded Comfort Zone Crusher. Over the last year alone his talks, online courses and videos have reached over 1 Million people.

He teaches people how to become more confident, care less what others think and deal with fear more effectively, so they can live a rich and full life.  Check out his blog here at www.comfortzonecrusher.com

Hey, welcome to today’s episode of the show. Today is part two in comfort zone crushing. Last week, we talked about the hammer and we got it set up and we’re all prepped and this week, we’re going to bring that sucker down and just smash the shit out of your comfort zone. And the way we’re going to do that is we will be getting into very specific techniques and strategies with my guest expert, Till H. Gross who, if you haven’t listened to the first half interview, do that, the action step in the end of last episode is really going to prime you to get the most out of today’s episode so if you haven’t listened to that, go back and do that now because today we’re going to be diving in.

We’re going to jump, hit the ground running and it’s going to be all about, how to break free? How to challenge you out of your comfort zone? How to become really fearless as a result? And by fearless, we don’t mean like you don’t experience any uncomfortable emotions, it’s as Till said, you experience uncomfortable emotions like fear but then you’re able, you have this ability to act, to do no matter what you’re feeling and that is power in my book. If we can just take action even though we’re scared, I mean that’s like the root of courage and power and confidence and freedom. So let’s do it … grab yourself a sheet of paper, a place to take notes, just get ready to think about how you’re going to apply this stuff in your life and get ready to have your mind blown. So without further ado, let’s get back in that interview with Till H. Gross.

Dr. Aziz: There’s muscle of will power, there’s muscle of getting outside their comfort zone. Maybe they’re inspired by you and what you’re doing in the world and they want to do this more in all their life, their work life, their dating life, their social life. How can we start doing this? How can we overcome that resistance inside of us and just getting out there and challenge our comfort zone daily?

Till H. Gross: Yes, so obviously, there are a lot of different ways, right? But I think if you look at the research and probably you know the studies as well, right, so if you really look at the research; one of the best ways to train your word power and train this, as you said before this going against this resistance is similar to like working out in the gym when you want to like strengthen your physical muscles, you do resistance training, right? So same, with like your cognitive or mental muscles, like willpower, you need to train to get resistance where you consciously over and over again have to overcome your inner emotions whether it’s fear, whether it’s discomfort and one of the ways that we started to develop is doing things that comfort zone challenges where you constantly put yourself in uncomfortable social situations and consciously do those things that scare you the most.

And for a lot of people, this is like, “Oh my God, what are other people might … what are other people might be thinking about me?” So, this means consciously do something that embarrasses you and then you notice on the one hand, most people won’t look or most people didn’t care what you do and on the other hand, some people will look at you and think that you’re crazy and you can learn how to withstand this and you can learn how to put yourself in those situations. And just to clarify because you are allowed a very abstract mental level pretty often so these are things like you said before, laying down on the street for 30 seconds, and actually I found this … I want to give credit where credit is due, so at the beginning, I found this  and link it back to all like evidence-based psychology so like exposure, therapy and these kind of things.

So if you do things like you lay down on the floor for 30 seconds, what happens is, most of us, we have to like overcome our inner fear what might the other people think. Like will they think I’m crazy? Will they judge me? Maybe people address me because like, “Dude, what are you doing down on the floor?” And by doing this, by going against all these, going against all these, like internal resistance, we learn to get better at this and additionally, it feels like a little bonus. Most of the time, we also learn it’s not as uncomfortable as we expect. You know what I mean? So most people … and we have thousands and thousands of people from all over the world having done those challenges and what happens most of the time is you’re terrified, “Oh my God, what are the other people going to think?” Then you do it and as soon as you start, for example, as soon as your back touched the floor, if you do the lay-down challenge, for example, most would notice, it is not as uncomfortable as expected because most of the time, we think, “Oh, this is going to be so hard, this is going to be uncomfortable, this is going to be so embarrassing.” But as soon as we started doing things, it’s actually not that bad.

And because you talked about dating before, most guys probably can relate to this. Walking up to a girl is the scariest part. As soon as you talk to her, most of the time, not always but most of the time, it’s actually not that scary. And it’s often just overcoming ourselves, this is going against fear that’s really the hard part and that way, we have a ton of challenges like [inaudible 00:05:17.13] for 30 seconds or walking up to a stranger and paying them a compliment, smiling at people or the harder stuff like stretching on from the air and jumping up and down the street, making noise like a bird or howl like a wolf in a public transportation or trying to get rejected, that’s a big one, trying to get rejected ten times as fast as possible.

And when people do this over and over again on the one hand, I note, most of the time, I’m terrified with the things that never will happen. There’s a quote from Mark Twain, he said, what did he say … I had many troubles in my life but most of them never really happened. So that most of our worries as soon as we start to put ourselves out there, most of the things that we worry about don’t even happen. And on the other hand, while you do this over and over again, you put yourself out there and you go against your fears, usually you become better at doing the uncomfortable thing and this will bleed into other areas of life and you will feel the effects and notice the effects in other areas of your life.

Dr. Aziz: That is great. There’s a … there’s a ton of good stuff in there and I mean, this is a huge … this is a life-changing insight if you can take what Till is sharing which is the things that we’re so scared of, all this fear that we can build up, all this anticipation and, “Oh my God, this is going to happen and it’s going to be unbearable is really, completely fabricated in our minds and then when we go do the thing, we find out what actually happens, we find it’s not so bad. We find that if someone does come up to us when we’re lying on the street, that we can talk to them and it’s not a big deal. In fact, I remember I was introducing this idea to a friend many years ago when I was studying about exposure work and we were in Los Angeles and I told him about this lying on the street and he said, “Really? Well I want to try it.” So, I said, let’s do it. It was like I think Third Avenue, I’m not exactly sure, somewhere in L.A. where it’s like, there’s no cars, it was just huge sidewalks, lots of pedestrians, kind of like an outdoor shopping sort of area.

And it was evening time and there was a fair amount of people walking around and so I said, “Okay you do it and I’m going to stand far away so people don’t know that I’m with you and I’m just going to observe what happens.” And this is in the days before cell phones that have video cameras, otherwise I probably would have videoed it but … so he’s laying on the ground and he did not do what you suggest, which I love your little tweaks, and by the way, at the end we’ll have you introduce your comfort zone crushing challenge because there’s some great stuff in there but one of the tweaks you recommend in that is to put your hands behind your head so you don’t look like you just got knocked out or something like that but he didn’t do that so he looks like he’s kind of passed out on the ground like someone just punched him or something.

So what was fascinating though, is how … I mean, we’re talking about dozens of people going by … I don’t know how many per minute but just like tons of people going by and my loose memory of the stats, I didn’t really keep track but I’d say like 70% of people don’t even freaking notice. They don’t even look, they don’t even care and they’re not like hundreds of feet away from him. They’re like walking right by him and they don’t even notice. And the fascinating thing was adults didn’t notice but kids noticed. So, I saw a number of times a little kid would be like staring at him as they walked by. In one instance, I actually saw the kid kind of pulling on his dad’s arm trying to get his dad’s attention and his dad kind of hastily looks over and then is like, yes, whatever, and they keep walking and no one cared. And then all of a sudden, actually I think one person came up to him and asked him like, “Are you okay?” and he said. “Yes, I’m just taking a break.”

And then these like three high school kids came up and I couldn’t hear what was going on but the next thing I know they’re sitting down on the ground next to him and having a conversation with him. And I came up and I said, “What was going on?” And he said, “They were just curious about what I was doing?” So I mean not only did he get … no one noticed but then people that do go talk to him are either concerned, like they want to make sure he’s okay or they’re interested in what he’s doing so it was just fascinating. I’m sure you’ve had experiences like that with you and the people that you have taught this to, as well.

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Till H. Gross: Oh yes, you know, all communities over like, whatever, 10,000 people and all at this point, we have dozens and dozens of stories where people were effing terrified. If I do this, a lot of people would judge me and it’s going to be weird, I’m going to offend other people maybe. In the end, it always turns out that most of the time, they actually create interesting relationships with other people because people walk up and ask them what are they doing and they start the conversation. They start to talk to people that usually don’t talk to them and actually, I was giving an interview like last week, to one of the big … it was a funny thing, one of the biggest women’s magazines in Austria and they were very, very skeptical.

They were very, very skeptical about the challenges and they were like, this is kind of funny, this is silly, like it’s stupid and people were going to think we’re crazy and then [inaudible 00:11:44.11] different challenges and one hour later like we’re just like debriefing the whole thing. And they were like, “You know what, it’s crazy, because we thought this is just about ourselves but also [inaudible 00:11:55.10] spreading so much joy among the people because we interact with so many people, we’re hitting on high fives, hugging people and like ask people to stroke our head and then kind of like weird, stupid, silly things, right? But on the one hand, help the journalist, they did all the challenges. It helped them to tackle their fears. On the other hand, also, yes, you get into like contact with other people and most of the time, this is like a beautiful experience and most people are very, very positive in this regard.

Dr. Aziz: Yes, and there may be multiple reasons for it but I often think that skepticism and the dismissing it before doing it is just a tough guy version of fear like, “Oh, I’m not scared, I just am skeptical.”

Till H Gross: Yes.

Dr. Aziz: So okay, so what about people that experience this because I’m sure some people listening have felt this like, “Okay, I’m going to do it,” and then they get into the situation and it’s sort of like what you’re talking about is like taking a leap, taking a leap to go face our fear. Jumping in over the … sort of the chasm or the abyss to the other side and some people get right to that edge and they’re going to jump … they’re telling themselves they’re going to jump and then they have this experience that they would describe as freezing, I hear this one a lot. People have say, I wanted to say that but I froze up or I was going to do that and I just froze up and I just couldn’t. And I’m curious, what is your experience of that and how do you suggest people can break through that hesitation?

Till H. Gross: Yes, I think it’s something that I think the fear … I know a lot of people who have the fear that they will freeze up so out of my own experience, when I worked with people who does … does not happen as often as they maybe anticipate what will happen. However, when it does happen, I think it’s very simply … just take a step back, start from beginning once again and maybe don’t just … do like a little smaller thing. For example, if you want to walk up to a person and pay them a compliment and then you walk up to the person and you freeze and you go like, ah and you can’t say anything, all right, that’s all right, let them pass, walk past, walk a couple of steps, breathe in, deep in and out, really deep in and out. So kind of like … I don’t know, notice and starts to like calm down again and you get on like panicky state and you start to calm down as you know is one of the best ways to regulate your internal state so you breathe very slowly, deep in and out and then you start to like to calm down and you start again.

And this time, you don’t pay the person a compliment. You simply walk up and go like, “Hey, how are you?” And then you let them walk past and then you master this. All right, you didn’t freeze; you were able to open your mouth and talk. All right, now let’s try again and then you walk up to the person and say, “Hey, you know what, I think I fucking love your jacket. It’s amazing, where did you get it from?” So I think if you had to think where you just freeze, and if you had the chance, start over again. Breathe deeply in and out and then start with something smaller and work your way up. However, if it’s in big situations where it really counts and then you freeze, I think that’s a lack of preparation.

And I think if this happened, let’s say you have an interview or just like this do or die interview, like you have to get the job and then if you walk up there and you freeze, I think most of the time it’s a lack preparation because whenever you have something really, really big and then you freeze or it’s too overwhelming, then you just didn’t prepare well enough and then you should have had … let’s say, there’s this one big interview and you know or you anticipate you’re going to freeze and actually go there and you will freeze then what you should have done, you should have come to like ten random interviews before so you practiced it before whereas if you go up on stage and you’re going … you’re about to freeze because I don’t know, you present your math thesis or you have to deliver like a pitch or whatever, beforehand, practice in situations that are very, very low state so we have like the same nervousness, same intensity but that are very, very, low state so that you can practice being in those situations.

Dr. Aziz: Yes, that’s huge. And it is a muscle and we can get momentum and I found that this stuff is transferable. So if you have that interview as crazy as it sounds, if you go lay on the street and pay strangers compliments and do a bunch of this other stuff that’s seemingly disconnected from an interview or a public talk, I would bet that it would actually help prepare you because in my experience, embarrassment and fear of disapproval and all these other things, those are context independent. We can experience them anywhere and we just experienced a big dose when it comes to public speaking or interviews or whatever that high risk venture is that we’re doing so if you can build up the muscle by doing these other things and of course, also preparing in a situation that’s similar. But even just out on the street, I mean, I think this stuff is like a muscle and the more we work it out, the more bold you become, the more easy these kinds of things be to get into action.

Till H. Gross: Yes, I totally agree in which so many example from people from our community who said they just started doing some comfort zone challenges and then what happens is how they get their courage to really … I talked to a girl last week, she was running a local community. We have like the local communities all over the [inaudible 00:17:25.2] right now and who’s running the local community in Vienna, she’s in Austria. I talked to her last week and she told me that she actually quit her past job and got a new job which is way better than the old job simply because now she has the courage to actually quit that job. And she got offers because so many comfort zone challenges that she was not that afraid anymore of rejection or what people might think and she was like more comfortable and she was like more secure in situations where she might get very stressed or very anxious because she now knows how to deal with those situations. Not specifically this situation of like an interview but she knows how to deal with moments where she gets anxious and nervous because she is so used to being in uncomfortable situations. She is so used to being anxious at this point.

Dr. Aziz: Yes, it’s a power that sounds like she’s developed. And would you say in your experience what you’ve seen with people in your community, just by doing the comfort zone challenges, just by getting outside, does that handle the ongoing fear or persistent worry about other people might be judging me. Other people might not like this, is just doing the embarrassing things enough to help us break free or is there more that we need to do?

Till H. Gross: This is serious things, right? We all hope there would be a magic pill and the comfort zone challenges challenge so many people like a magic pill but obviously they’re not. So comfort zone challenges help you tremendously to make a big leap forward in a short period of time and for many people, they really break free from like a lot of past fear that they had. However I think the long run, there always will be certain worry what others might think about us. That’s okay because we are very social beings and part of our society can function … like it does function because we are concerned what other people might think about us. And if we wouldn’t have to feel worry about the little voice in our head that sometimes tells us, “Oh my God, what are the others are thinking of me right now?”

Then we probably all become assholes and we’d act in a way that it’s not very social so I think the goals shouldn’t even be to completely stop caring what other people think about us however I think the goal should always be to be able at any point to do what you really want to do in this moment, no matter how you feel and that’s a lot of like a step to commitment involved there as well. The idea of learning how to accept your uncomfortable thoughts and emotions and being able to move ahead and do what value most of your life. So yes, comfort challenges question … comfort zone challenges help you over many, many fears and also reduce the worry what others might think but I think the most important part is learning to act despite all those things. Not having to rely on the [inaudible 00:21:24.09] now my fear is gone or now I don’t worry anymore but you can worry, you can be anxious, but you’re going to do it anyway and I think that’s really the important part.

Dr. Aziz: And that is truly liberating because if we’re waiting for our fear to go away magically then we could be waiting for a long time and I love that taking … being able to tolerate or witness the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings and then taking action consistently based upon what we value. And that is super inspiring and liberating and I really appreciate you sharing all these insights. I know we’re just scratching the surface here and you referenced a few times this community and the comfort zone challenge; can you tell us a little bit more about what that is and how people can find it and learn about these exercises that you’ve guided people through?

Till H. Gross: Oh yes, of course. So comfort zone crusher started probably like one and a half, two years ago. In the beginning, it was just me crushing my own comfort zone and I also studied psychology so I have a background in psychology as you do, not just like as educated as you do, I still don’t have my PHD or anything like this. I know I talked about this before and so … then I started putting this up online. I started to put up comfort zone challenges, online videos of me doing comfort zone challenges and also all the different techniques and approaches that are based on a ton of evidence and studies and I put these all up and around this, just step by step formed this community of people who do the comfort zone challenges and who support each other of stepping out the comfort zone.

And now as of this point, there’s this online part which is also like an online business so I also sell online, there’s a ton of stuff for free but I also sell online courses for everybody who is interested, we have like a free, completely free 7-day-comfort zone challenge course. We get to the comfort zone challenges, you get different techniques so you can tackle your fears and become more confident and on the other hand, the offline part is we now have, like in total, we have over 10,000 people in our community and over 45 different countries around the world and now, we started to develop since like half year, is in different cities, we have local hubs and local communities where people get together, they do comfort zone challenges.

They go out together and they challenge their fears and they kind of become a person-development group. So and this is a very thriving community and the people in community are amazing and I am very, very grateful for this community and the people, how committed they are and yes, it’s very driven by those people from the community so if you enter, we also have like a private Facebook group so if you enter there, you’re going to see it, the people are just lovely and they support each other and they got each other’s back because here’s the thing, going out there and tackling all your fears by yourself and it’s great and it’s very ambitious, however I think having a network of support and having a network of people that you can rely on is incredibly valuable and very, very helpful in any form of personal growth or whatever endeavor you have. So yes, whoever is interested and check us out, I’m very, very happy if you drop by and connect with some people in the community.

Dr. Aziz: That is great and we will have a link below in the showknowsthatshrinkfortheshyguy.com but also just in case some of us listening on iTunes or wherever else, can you say the URL again one more time?

Till H. Gross: Yes, comfortzonecrusher.com

Dr. Aziz: Love it, love it. Awesome, Till, well, thank you again so much for being on the show and sharing your insights and just inspiring us all to continually push that edge. That is the end of the interview. Make sure you go to his website and sign up for his free challenge. There’s a ton of super valuable stuff in there, I’ve signed up myself and did all those challenges. It was good fun and some great stories from that so make sure you sign up for that because you’ll get a ton out of that and it’s a great service that he offers and he’s an amazing guy so that brings us to your action step.

Action Step:

 The action step for today is to do the lying in the street exercise. You heard us talk about it, he talks about it in his challenge, everyone does it that goes through his challenge. It’s time for you to do it and even if you’ve already done it before, do it again, because you can’t do this stuff too many times. I’ve done so many of these kinds of things in my life and still every time before I go out to do this kind of thing, I’m a little nervous. Like there’s little bit of like ah, I’m going to do something unusual.

And that to me is a sign of just continually needing to push the edge of our comfort zone because if we stop then we start to atrophy, it starts to pull for comfort, starts to get us back into that safe, warm, cozy electric blanket where we don’t have to do anything so break free, put yourself out there, commit to go lie on the street for 30 seconds, a super simple tip that he gives in his challenge is to interlace your hands, like bring your hands behind your head, like if you were kind of relaxed on a beach, you kind of have your hands behind your head so your neck’s supported, that makes it look like you’re chilling and not like you got knocked the fuck out so that’s a great way to not have a bunch of people coming up to me like, “Are you okay?” So do that and do it like, literally do it for 30 seconds, time yourself.

Make sure you stay there on the ground, notice what happens? Notice the fear beforehand, notice how you feel like during and notice afterwards how you feel and pay attention to what your mind predicted would happen and then what actually happened when you did it. So go put that in practice, let us know how it goes, go to facebook.com/social confidence and share about your experience. You can also go to shrinkfortheshyguy.com and send messages through that and until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome.

Music Credit

All music is licensed or royalty free.

Intro:
DeepSound – Rain Clouds
(Licensed through Pond5.com)

Ask The Shrink:
Boccherini Minuet
(Licensed through Pond5.com)

Action Step:
Justin Crosby – Skrillit
(Licensed through Pond5.com)

Outro:
Lokfield – Terra’s Theme Dubstep
soundcloud.com/lokfield
(Creative Commons License)

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