Why You Must Expand Before You Contract Slug: expand-contract | Robin Barr Coaching

Why You Must Expand Before You Contract

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November 5, 2019

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Why You Must Expand Before You Contract

Expansion and contraction. It’s an important part of life and we cycle through it at many points. There will be times of expansion and times of contraction. It’s almost like throwing a Slinky toy down the stairs. It bends over and expands, then gathers itself up and contracts before the energy and momentum propel it to expand down another step.

Do you remember, as a kid, how annoyed you’d be when the Slinky stopped mid-staircase? I know I certainly got that way! Why wouldn’t it go all the way down a flight of stairs? Simple physics; the energy wasn’t great enough to overcome the gravity holding it in one place.

Sometimes, humans lose momentum and stay in one place on the step, too. We tend to get stuck in comfort (and that’s okay! I do it, too) and need a little shove to get the energy flowing again.

Expansion and contraction work together to move you along in your process in life and business. Both are good and both are necessary steps!

What Your Brain Is Telling You About Expanding

Often, my clients are sitting in fear. They say, “I don’t want…..” over and over. Freeze mode.

Sure, there’s always a natural fear present and that one is useful. It’s the good kind of fear that keeps you physically safe because you know running into a burning building without protective gear is fraught with danger.

Then, there’s the fear of What If. It sounds a little like, “What if I try this and it doesn’t work out? I don’t want to have to start over again…”

In a sense, that’s keeping you safe, too. It’s your ego protecting you from venturing out of your secure area. It loops those “What ifs” and “I don’t wants” to talk you out of expanding into a new space.

“Stay here. It’s warm. We have decent cable and popcorn is only ten feet away in the kitchen,” it calls to you as you ponder starting a business, expanding to a new market, or any venture you’re unfamiliar with.

When you get stuck in that comfort, obviously, nothing will change. If you’re sitting in fear, you can’t grow.

Why You Must Expand Before You Contract

In order to move forward, we have to make a commitment to take a step. Then, we can pause and see how it went. And then expand to take another step. But if we don’t take a step, nothing will happen.

The way we grow, learn, and progress is by stretching our limits of what we think we’re capable of, or expanding. Then, you have to absorb, process, and integrate what you’ve learned. That comes in the assessment phase, or contraction.

We have to show ourselves that expansion is safe and we do this a little at a time. Take a step, assess the situation, take another step, assess… It’s a Slinky-like movement!

So you see, first you must stretch yourself and allow yourself to get comfortable in that place. Then, you stretch a little bit more, and so on. But first, you have to get in motion. You can’t integrate lessons (or be in contraction) without first learning something (or being in expansion).

How Expansion and Contraction Must Work Together

We need both expansion and contraction to integrate what you’ve learned and experienced.

I recently had a VIP Day with my coach. I was brimming with ideas when I got home…and I also was energetically beat. All my stores were empty! But I welcomed that period of both expansion and contraction because in that contraction, I was able to process the new ideas that came to me in expansion and work through how to implement them effectively. 

Think about when you go to a conference. Your energy expands, you get excited, and you say, “I’m going to take this energy and move!” All of the ideas and connections come flooding to you, effortlessly and without a filter or judgement.

Then, you get home and you’re exhausted. You’ve expanded and stretched and Slinky-ed your way through so much movement; the energy it took you to do so is depleted. So now, you pause and assess.

Basically, your body wants to integrate. In fact, it’s begging you to pause for a moment! It wants to take all of those ideas and think through how you can accomplish them and what’s a viable idea to begin with.

Just because you came back from the conference and feel like you “lost steam,” you may want to beat yourself up for not using that energy to keep going…don’t! It’s natural! This cycle happens every time. It doesn’t mean you didn’t expand, because you did. You’re just now feeling into this new space you’re taking up.

That way, when you expand again, you have that knowledge in you. You know you can stretch a little bit further this time. And you know part of the cycle is that period of integration. Just don’t sit in integration because then…nothing that came to you during your expansion phase will happen!

Knowing that there will always be a cycle helps us not to get frustrated with ourselves for not making progress or appearing as if we’re stuck. We need time to step forward and also time to assess the results. Those times of stepping are expansion and the times of assessment are contraction.

We can’t always go around from expansion to implementation. There’s no rest and recharge in that model. First, we have to contract, assess, and integrate, then we can take action again.

Have you ever experienced a cycle like this in your life that you’re now seeing in a different light? Perhaps you thought you were lazy for not coming back from a conference and doing something or you felt frustrated because you were like that Slinky that paused mid-staircase.

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