Stepping Beyond the Comfort Zone
We know this all too well: stepping beyond the comfort zone is not easy. It takes conscious, consistent attention and energy for our default habits of thinking, reacting, and behaving to lose their power over us. It starts with standing in the energy of DESIRE - for something different, something more life-serving - and letting that desire pull us toward new possibilities over and over again.
And it takes courage - to hope again, dream again, try again, and not let “fails” mean anything other than opportunities to course correct vs. stop completely.
We all know this too: Comfort zones are NOT comfortable. Our habits of avoiding, numbing, distracting and busying provide short-term relief at best. We over-eat / drink / drug / work / think / complain / care / sleep / phone, etc. and under-eat / sleep / perform / care / engage, etc. as strategies to minimize risk, disappointment, failure, ridicule and negative judgments. These self-sabotage tactics formed to protect us, help us cope, and/or help us avoid some scary, inconvenient truth that our heart wants us to hear. Completely normal and life-supporting to a degree, yet when they become our only tools in the toolkit, our quality of life takes a hit.
We circle ‘round and ‘round in our comfort zones, defaulting into our patterns and deepening our habits like a car’s tires following the well-worn grooves of a dirt road. Adding harsh self-talk to the mix just digs us in deeper. (Even that self-talk is a default habit!)
If you’re swirling in your own comfort zone and finding it hard to move beyond to some greater possibility, I want you to know this: This has nothing to do with your character. You are not weak and you don’t lack fortitude. You are essentially living from patterns that have become deeply entrenched in your neurobiology - mind and body - so that many aspects of your life are on automatic, much like your own personal Microsoft Windows running in the background - bugs and all.
If we want our lives to be more in line with what we want, we have to become conscious of our thoughts and actions, and we have to step toward what we want despite the powerful pull of our default patterns.
We get to create our lives instead of living by default. We get to consciously choose how we respond to whatever shows up on our path vs. falling into old patterns of reacting.
That is, if we decide - like no kidding, DECIDE - we want what’s beyond the comfort zone and become willing to step forward, again and again.
This is a process and a practice vs. any kind of “ten steps and you’ve arrived” approach. Formulas only strengthen the parts of us that want the quick fix and to stay comfortable.
Stepping beyond the comfort zone is a challenging path yet an essential one if we want our lives to reflect the values and qualities that matter to us. Because our vitality, our enjoyment, and our ability to go for our goals and dreams are held captive until we begin to change our default operating system.
When we take a step toward our heart’s desire, then little by little - and sometimes a lot by a lot - we liberate our life energy. Isn’t that what we all long for?
Every moment you make a conscious choice to step beyond the comfort zone, it positively affects the trajectory of your life.
Step by step, you find that your life gets closer to what you dreamed it could be. How exciting is that?
Prompts for Futher Exploration
What’s the nature of your comfort zone?
What particular habits do you default to?
How do your automatic patterns support you and how do they not?
What thoughts and feelings arise when you think of stepping beyond your comfort zone?
What happens when you do step beyond?
What pulls you back in?
What supports or resources would support you to move from automatic pilot to making a conscious choice?