Life Outside The Comfort Zone: Moving Beyond Fear For Growth is a guest article written by Sharon Torres
Our comfort zone is an invisible barrier that keeps us corralled in a protected area from where we believe we can operate without any risk of harm.
The problem with this is, it stunts growth and prevents us from moving to another level of development.
Comfort zones urge us to avoid anything that will cause stress. Not facing new challenges or taking risks in life is akin to living in a lovely, gilded cage, safe away from all anxiety, yet unaware of all the opportunities the world offers.
We possess a tremendous capacity to move beyond obstacles and increase our strengths and abilities.
Unless we can step outside our comfort zone, these strengths remain undiscovered.
Taking risks encourages growth and provides a positive learning experience. Even if you fail, you learn valuable lessons about why you failed which enables you to rethink your strategy and increase your knowledge and understanding.
Not stepping outside your comfort zone encourages settling for the mundane. You limit your potential because, to achieve new levels, you must leave your comfort behind and explore the challenges your present level can’t handle.
For instance, when people have an addiction it can seem difficult to imagine life beyond addiction, although the individual knows leaving the addiction is essential for a healthy life.
Fortunately, there are many resources which can help us learn to accept necessary changes and move forward with a better life.
Gaining strength to leave your comfort zone
Learning to leave your comfort zone is challenging. Moving beyond that protective environment arouses fear and anxiety.
However, there are small steps you can begin taking that will help you cautiously learn to move beyond those barriers.
1. Write down the things beyond your comfort zone you would like to achieve. These are the things you dream about yet when it comes to taking actual steps to accomplish them, the fear stops you from following through.
On a micro level, what are the things you find stressful that you go out of your way to avoid on a regular basis?
What extra steps are you taking to reorder your life in a way to avoid those situations?
2. Determine what it is about the situation that terrifies you.
There is no such thing as general fear. Fear involves the anticipation of an unwanted result or reaction to something.
What is the worst-case scenario you anticipate of stepping outside your comfort zone?
3. Are there situations throughout the course of your day which cause you discomfort and cause you to try to get them over and done as soon as possible?
Next time deliberately take more time doing those. Remain in that uncomfortable zone longer than necessary and get used to dealing with the uncomfortable feeling.
4. Don’t try to go all out at once. Slowly make small steps when taking on new challenges.
The size of the challenge isn’t’ as important as actually deciding to do something you are not comfortable with.
Avoiding stressful situations extracts a terrible cost in our lives. It encourages us to remain safe, protected and to avoid challenges and growth in life.
5. Learn from people who face challenges all the time. This could be a personal acquaintance or a celebrity biography you read.
What did these people do to face their fears and keep moving toward their goals?
Don’t let your life goals fall victim to the allure of comfortable routines. -Zero DeanClick to tweet
Listening to motivational speakers and reading or learning how others have managed to move beyond was comfortable to achieve is empowering.
Leaving a comfort level increases your focus and your ability to learn. While some stress is necessary for peak performance, too much stress can bring unwanted consequences.
People sometimes use narcotics like alcohol to help them handle stress. This can easily lead to addiction. Thankfully there are support structures that can help if this ever becomes a problem.
Must we always move beyond our comfort zone for growth?
Although moving outside the comfort zone opens us up for growth, it’s important to know making a giant leap from the zone isn’t always needed.
It’s important not to become complacent in your comfort zone because there are no surprises and you aren’t given the opportunity to move beyond your current level of development.
The safest way to venture outside your comfort zone is to understand what lies beyond it: the Growth Zone and The Panic Zone.
1. The Growth Zone
The growth zone is the first space beyond the comfort zone.
While there is some discomfort because you are attempting challenges you haven’t previously handled, venturing in this area doesn’t necessarily feel threatening. Rather than remaining complacent, the growth zone allows you to grow and learn.
2. The Panic Zone
The panic zone is a leap into a scary area that triggers the body’s ‘fight or flight’ responses.
Unlike the growth or learning zone where progress and achievement can be made, the fear that accompanies entering this area can be paralyzing and leave the individual as stuck in one place, as with the comfort zone.
This is an area which induces high stress or brings you in actual danger.
Life beyond the comfort zone
Stress is a necessary component of learning new skills and gaining new levels of achievement. However, it’s not necessary to jump directly into scary waters all at once.
A better idea is to take small, incremental baby steps, carefully venturing beyond the areas we view as safe first.
Moving outside the comfort or complacency zone is uncomfortable yet the rewards to be gained are well worth the effort.
Sharon Torres is a freelance writer who is chronicling her experiences through this thing called life.
She believes that if you always move forward in life then there is no need to look back. Her favorite writer is Phillip K. Dick.
Sharon currently writes for Sunshine Behavioral Health, which operates luxury rehab centers in California, Colorado and Texas.