It is only natural to want to stay where things are comfortable, where everything is easy and painless. However, when we only do what we know and only do what feels safe, we limit our ability to experience life. We stay where we are, fearful to do anything that may cause us to change the way we are used to doing things. Out of habit, to avoid the uncertainty of the unknown, we continue doing things that keep us safe.
But if you want to bring spice and adventure to your life, sooner or later you’ll need to step out of that zone. Whenever we’re faced with the unfamiliar, there is an opportunity for growth and self-discovery. New opportunities have the ability to simultaneously unleash very powerful feelings of anticipation, excitement, and fear. If we allow them, these emotions have the ability to break us out our shell and routines or to keep us confined to our comfort zones. Sometimes the sentiments brought on by the unknown can be so intense that it causes physical and emotional pain. Pain and discomfort serve as a distraction to frighten and deter you from stepping out and doing something different. But if we shy away every time we encounter a challenge, and nestle ourselves deeper and deeper into that safe and comforting comfort zone, life will quickly become flat and mundane. While there is a sense of relief that is felt when we consistently take actions that require the least amount of effort, the downside is that you find yourself feeling unfulfilled and bored with life.
Alternately, we can choose to follow that feeling of excitement to lead us into new experiences. Doing something you’ve never done before is new and it is going to feel different, awkward and challenging. It’s part of life. The key is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Yes, comfort is a great place to be. It rewards us with feelings of enjoyment and relaxation. However, permanently staying in our comfort zone can quickly make life very dull and unfulfilling. You have to get accustomed to challenging yourself by taking small and deliberate steps into unfamiliar territory. If you are doing something new and different it will feel uncomfortable. Don’t allow this initial resistance to the discomfort stop you from moving beyond where you are. Fear of the unknown and resistance to change will keep your life small. It sets limits on how you allow yourself to experience life.
Growth and progress begin at the end of your comfort zone. When faced with a challenge, it is important to allow yourself to move through the discomfort. Conditioning yourself to regularly take small uncomfortable steps forward allows you to sit in the discomfort a little longer and to push the limits of your comfort zone. And the more you push your boundaries, the more confidence you’ll build, the easier it will be to experience and embrace that sense of discomfort, and the richer and more fulfilling your life will become.
Doing things because they are easy and comfortable prevents you from growing into who you are and what you’re capable of becoming. Bringing awareness and acknowledgement to the discomfort can help you to see the limits of your comfort zone. Look to see how you try to avoid stepping out of your comfort zone. What excuses do you make to avoid taking action? Imagine what would be possible if you allowed yourself to stay in the discomfort?
“If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.” – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Copyright Dr. Julie Doobay 2014