Expand Beyond Your Comfort Zone
Have you ever felt yourself being pulled in two different directions? Many years ago, I really wanted to move to Sedona. But when the time came to pack, I was reluctant to leave Houston, where I'd grown up. Even though I didn't like my old home, it was a familiar place. I knew where things were, and what the environment was like. Sedona would be a complete change, from city to small town, from suburbs to the country. It was a change I desperately desired, but still it was scary.
Take a look at your life. Is it everything you want it to be? Are you as happy as you'd like? Do you have the prosperity you want, the relationships, the health? If you're not experiencing all that you want in life, then you're keeping yourself from it. Life wants to give you all the good you can hold. If you're not constantly accepting more good in your life, you've settled into a rut. This is called a comfort zone. Everyone does this, in some way or other.
I've heard of prisoners who are freed, who have waited years to be released. But once they have their freedom, they can't handle it. They've spent so many years having someone telling them when to eat, when to sleep, when to exercise, that they can't function without anyone telling them what to do. Therefore, some former prisoners deliberately commit another crime simply to be caught and put back in prison. They have been forced out of their comfort zone, and want back in.
Most of us don't have quite this extreme situation. But have you ever had an opportunity that you turned down out of fear? Some people will work hard to succeed, and just as it's about to happen, they will sabotage it. They'll forget a vital appointment, they'll get sick, they'll begin to drink, or insult the boss. Their comfort zone may not be comfortable, but it is familiar.
What is it that causes people to remain in their comfort zone? Many people have a fear of the unknown. When faced with a new situation, they don't know if they can handle it, doubting their abilities. Just like I felt about my move.
A person may have a fear of responsibility. I know of people that have done menial jobs all of their lives, and turned down managerial duties because they didn't want the additional authority. They're very comfortable doing the duties they know, and don't want to learn anything new. A nine to five job satisfies them, and they don't want to have to expand their horizons.
For some, moving out of their comfort zone means that they're afraid that they'll lose control. A woman I knew had been very ill for several years. Her family catered to her, and she didn't have to deal with running a household. When she recovered, she continued to be treated like she was made of glass and would break at any time. She did nothing to contradict this. Her illness gave her control over her family, and she wasn't going to give up that control.
Though her family assumed she wasn't well enough to take care of the housework or the cooking, she was healthy enough to volunteer as an aide in a charity hospital. She was comfortable believing that she was an invalid, because she avoided responsibilities she didn't want. If she had given up her invalid role, she would've lost the ability to control her family.
Even remaining at the same income level can be a way of staying in your comfort zone. Or not being able to exceed a certain amount in your savings account. Accepting only so much good in any one area is a way of keeping yourself in a situation that you're familiar with. By doing so, you don't have to handle the anxiety of any uncertainties. You're on well-known terrain, and know all the hills and valleys.
What it comes down to is that most people don't feel worthy of experiencing more of what life offers. A woman will put up with a verbally abusive spouse, because she's been convinced that she deserves his attacks. Or a man will suffer with a raging boss, because he doesn't believe he can find a better job. (These are gender interchangeable.)
A person may want to be healthier, but doesn't take the action necessary to do so, such as stopping smoking, exercising, and eating properly. Whenever there can be something done for change, and nothing is done, it's due to a lack of self-esteem. A person doesn't think enough of themselves to leave the marriage, change jobs, stand up for themselves, or take care of themselves.
So how can you tell if you're keeping yourself in a comfort zone? Is there anything that you are unhappy with? Do you want more in some area of your life? Notice what thoughts go through your mind about that area. Be aware of the feelings that arise when you consider a change. Does fear surface? Fear of what? You're the only person that's keeping yourself in your comfort zone.
It's like you're in a cage with the door open. Remaining in the cage, you know when your meals are, where your bed is, and when to go to bed. You have everything set in a habit pattern, and don't have to change anything. You're in a rut, which is a grave with both ends removed. If you leave the cage, you have to change some of your expectations, and deal with some uncertainty. You're the one who will have to decide what to eat each day, rather than have someone fix it for you. However, you'll be able to see the sky, and have the freedom to explore your potential.
By becoming aware of what you're thinking and feeling, you can begin to dissolve the limitations that have kept you there. You're the one who created them, so you can transcend beyond them. It may be scary, because you're facing your fears and moving through them. But persist, because life wants to give you more. And imagine that all of life is supporting you in your expansion.
Copyright © 2009-2018 Linda Ann Stewart
As a vision strategist, hypnotherapist, and speaker, Linda-Ann Stewart helps women entrepreneurs who feel stuck, immobilized and overwhelmed to gain clarity, focus, and get back in control so they're able to accelerate to the next level of their business. Sign up for her FREE guide, "Take Control of Your Day," at www.Linda-AnnStewart.com/guide-takecontrol.html.You can contact her at LAS@Linda-AnnStewart.com or 928-600-0452.
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