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Give yourself a nudge

Written by Easter Becker-Smith. Posted in Uncategorized

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Published on October 27, 2010 with No Comments

By Easter Becker-Smith

I recently took my nieces to the Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City. Arielle, 7, is fearless. She boldly steps forward and goes after what she wants. But 12-year-old Camille is more timid and not a risk taker.

When we came to the barn where you can feed and pet animals, Arielle eagerly went to the Alpacas, stretched her hand and petted the female. She giggled, delighted to feel their soft, warm and wavy wool.

Camille stood by, curious, but not ready to pet the Alpacas. I remember having the same fear when I was a child and went to a petting zoo. I encouraged Camille, but she did not want to reach out and touch the animals.

We next went to the goats.

They boldly stuck their heads out between the fence posts and competed for the food zoo visitors held in their hands. Arielle wanted to buy food as quickly as possible and she rushed to the goats, feeding them and laughing as they licked her hand and gobbled the small nuggets of grains.

She stayed with the goats quite awhile and was intrigued by the way each one nudged their way, to stick out their heads and get their share of food. Some were more aggressive than others and I laughed to myself that Arielle must be relating to the goats’ spirit of audaciously stepping up and getting what they wanted.

My timid niece once again stood back and watched. I wanted her to experience the goats eating from her hand, so I encouraged her and then finally convinced her to feed them.

She cautiously handed them a nibble of food, not wanting them to lick her hand. I reminded her that this is like feeding her dog and that they would not bite her, but she was not fully convinced that she wanted to be part of the event.

I thought about the habit Camille had of standing back watching the world, but not fully participating. I wondered how many times in the future she might miss finding joy because she was too fearful of stepping out of her comfort zone.

“Camille,” I said, “Being afraid can be good. There are times when fear keeps you safe and keeps you from doing harmful things. You can also miss out on things, though because of fear. When you know doing something is safe, but you are afraid, try, give yourself a nudge and do something new.”

I took her over to the Alpacas and said, “Come on, let’s pet him.”

She looked at me as if I asked her to pet a porcupine. I knew I had to take the lead for Camille to find the courage to reach out and touch this tall and somewhat strange looking animal.

I faced the Alpaca and looked into his eyes. He was beautiful, with eyelashes that were so long and curled, they looked like they belonged on a diva actress from the silent movie era.

I rubbed his head and felt awestruck by his big softly focused brown eyes and his gentleness. A complete calm come over me. I heard myself telling him that he was a beautiful animal. He gently bent his head and nuzzled my neck and chest, thanking me for petting him.

I heard Camille, quietly say, “aww!” and then her hand reached up and she stroked the Alpaca’s neck. “He’s so soft,” she exclaimed in a hushed voice. We petted him a few moments more and then walked away.

“Isn’t it fun to try new things?” I asked Camille. She smiled and shook her head yes. I told her I was proud of her for overcoming her fear. I felt such joy for Camille and for the touching moments I experienced communicating with a beautiful animal.

It feels good to step out of your comfort zone and do something different. We achieve personal growth by experiencing new things and facing our fears. Give yourself a nudge, or even a push to do something that you have felt uncomfortable about doing, but want to experience. You will feel the pride of taking a bold step, and the joy of the new encounter.

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About Easter Becker-Smith

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All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Easter Becker-Smith provides coaching for individuals, groups and corporate teams.  She coaches individuals to help them discover their own path to balance and fulfillment in their lives.  She brings her years of experience in business as a highly regarded leader to help companies improve their productivity and efficiency by learning how to better communicate with each other.  Visit her website at www.coacheaster.com.

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