You want to be happy – is that too much to ask?
You want a happy and loving relationship – is that so unreasonable?
You want to do something that has meaning – who wouldn’t?
But there’s one problem – to have and be any of these things requires you to step outside your comfort zone because that’s the key to finding happiness.
But being in your comfort zone feels so safe and familiar and, if you step outside you might be jumping from the frying pan into the fire! That would be irresponsible and far too risky!
But here’s the thing:
Staying within your comfort zone may be familiar but it absolutely not safe.
Am I saying that staying is more dangerous than stepping out?
Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.
What are the dangers of staying in our comfort zone? If you’re anything like me who stayed in my marriage for 37 years despite my unhappiness, here are some examples of what this did to me:
- I became depressed more than once over the years.
- I put a lot of weight due to comfort eating.
- I then became, first anorexic and then bulimic.
- I became more and more controlling in an effort to have my needs met – an approach which failed dismally.
- I did a lot of retail therapy spending money we couldn’t afford and racked up massive debt.
Each experience left a mark even though I had help, mostly medical, to overcome each act of self-sabotage yet it still took 37 years for me to realise that the pain of staying in this relationship was far worse than the fear of the unknown.
In my case, I had Alan, my life coach, to support me but there are other ways to move outside your comfort zone.
How to move beyond your comfort zone
Doing anything that is unfamiliar will usually make you feel uncomfortable which is why we retreat to what feels familiar.
The starting point is to start noticing how you keep yourself stuck in your comfort zone.
What do you tell yourself? How do you scare yourself? How do you reassure yourself that staying is the sensible thing to do?
I suggest you note down your insights. It makes things clearer.
One thing you might like to know is that what starts feeling uncomfortable becomes more and more comfortable the more you do it – think of anything new you learned over the years. Or think of what new shoes feel like until you’ve worn them in.
Here are 3 things you might like to try:
Make a list of things you’ve been meaning to do but, for one reason or another, you haven’t. For example,
- Clear up the garage or spare room.
- Reorganise your CD’s or DVD’s
- Go some place you haven’t been before.
- Ask someone to give you a hand with something.
- Defrost the fridge.
Start with the smallest task on your list, the smaller the better. This will gradually lower your resistance to taking action.
The sense of accomplishment you experience afterwards is likely to be out of proportion with the actual task. That’s because you overcame your resistance – a great feeling!
This, in turn, will build your self-confidence.
However simple the task, doing something you kept putting off means that you stepped a little out of your comfort zone.
Once you’ve done that, you will have the confidence and energy to take on a slightly bigger task and, by doing that, stepping further out of your comfort zone.
Continuing to do this is like building your muscles – the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Not only that but you will also make stepping outside your comfort zone into a new habit – which is the real purpose behind this exercise.
So, what will you do first?
Do let me know how you get on.
With love and gratitude
P.S. My third book, ‘Open Your Heart: The 7 Secrets Of Strong And Loving Relationships’ will be launched on Thursday, 21 September 2017
P.P.S. I enable women build strong and loving relationships, first with themselves and then with others. That’s because your relationship with yourself shapes all your other relationships.
If you’d like to find out how you can do that email me on firstname.lastname@example.org for a FREE one hour exploratory conversation.