What is the comfort zone and why do we have to leave it? It’s COMFY in there!
We all have our areas of safety in our lives. These are the well-worn paths. The job we have mastered. The relationship we’ve been in forever. The way we operate socially. We have created our own bubble and we stay in there because it is safe, and predictable.
And yet… there’s a part of us that yearns for more. We see other people living these incredible lives, and a quiet part of us longs to try that way for ourselves. So we take a tentative step in a new direction, and the FEAR ARRIVES.
The moment we bump up against the edge of our comfort zone, anxiety rears its ugly head. Self-doubt kicks into high gear and you start telling yourself things like “You can’t do this, you’re not ______ enough, this isn’t you, why are you bothering with this. YOU CAN’T DO IT.”
Does any of this sound familiar? I know it well. For me that critical voice is accompanied by a loss of breath and a pounding heart. I become slightly paralyzed and I turn into a stilted awkward version of myself. I catch myself listening to that negative self-talk and in that moment all I want to do is retreat back into the safe bubble of my comfort zone. For a long time, that’s what I did.
The problem with this is the aftermath. It doesn’t feel good to know you gave up on yourself. It actually strengthens the Inner Critic. “SEE. I knew you couldn’t do it! You will never change.” This perpetuates a vicious cycle that feels really, really shitty, and we then try to distract ourselves from that shitty feeling with food, substances, tv, our phone, ANYTHING to drown out that terrible feeling of failure.
So, how did I break this pattern?? It was about recognizing that I have the power to choose. In those moments of heart pounding anxiety, when there is a choir of voices telling me I can’t do it, I am faced with the choice to give up and retreat, or push forward anyway. I already know what happens when I retreat, and I’m SO sick and tired of feeling that way. The only other option is to push forward.
In that moment I become aware of that negative self-talk and I flip the script. I look in the mirror and I call upon the POSITIVE inner voice. My Inner Leader, the one that knows I’m not all bad, the one that remembers all my wins and kindnesses and moments of brilliance. I give that voice a chance to be heard, take a few breaths, summon all of my courage and I DO THE THING. Nerves and all, I just f**king do it.
Let me tell you the feeling after you do it is WAYYYY better than the feeling after you don’t! There is a giant sense of relief, pride and accomplishment that washes over you that becomes truly addictive. You didn’t play safe, you played DANGEROUSLY. You walked into battle against your own self-doubt and you WON! Just by trying! It doesn’t even matter what the outcome is, the sole fact that you faced the fear and did it anyway is a spectacular triumph!
That’s what everyone means when they say the good stuff is outside the comfort zone. Change, opportunity, growth, and new perspectives wait for you out there. Everything you’ve been wanting, the life you desire for yourself, happens out there. It will never happen for you if you stay in your bubble. It may be comfy in there, and safe, but staying safe in your comfort zone will never allow you to flourish into the spectacular magnificent being you have the potential to be.
Next time you feel that heart pounding constriction of breath flip the script. Say HELL NO to the haters inside you and let the voice of your Inner Leader take over and propel you forward. Change that feeling from anxiety to excitement by recognizing that facing that fear is an opportunity to grow and feel that rush of accomplishment. Each time you do this you WILL get stronger and more confident and you will see incredible changes happen in your life.
Push your boundaries! Play dangerously! The good stuff is waiting for you OUTSIDE of your comfort zone.