“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” - Neale Donald Walsch
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” - Joseph Campbell
These three cliché quotes align with the idea that we are all familiar with, that fear holds us back. Change can be scary, whereas, comfort is easy, familiar, and safe. Comfort zones can hold power over us. We all have comfort zones. They can be both physical and psychological. Regardless of who you are, comfort zones are where we feel the most comfortable and the least challenged. We tend to cling on to comfort zones, even when they no longer serve us. Our brains activate survival mode, and the effort and courage it takes to get outside of our comfort zones can be too much to take. However, there are many ways to break out of your comfortability. Let’s learn to thrive in our discomfort!
Change can be hard because we are wired to expect the worst.
A natural negativity bias is a result of our brains trying to keep us safe. We are wired to expect the worst-case scenario and to give more weight to negative outcomes compared to equally positive outcomes. In several studies, researchers hooked participants up to electrodes to measure brain activity during positive and negative stimuli. What the researchers found, was that negative stimuli created stronger brain activity than positive stimuli. With this in mind, our brains crave routine. However, there is not much thrill in life when you are doing the same things every single day. Getting out of your comfort zone from time to time can alter your brain’s tolerance for change. When you actively try to shake things up, you can teach your brain that there is nothing to fear!
The Four Zones
The Comfort Zone: This is where you feel the safest and have the most control. There is no fear or extra effort involved - this is survival mode. Your brain doesn’t want anything to change.
The Fear Zone: This is where your lack of confidence and hindrance from outside opinions come into play. This is essentially what is holding you back from breaking away from your comfort zone. You may tend to make up stories of what could happen and the fear and stress alone from this unknown is what keeps us clinging to our normal routine. Assumptions play a powerful role in this zone. Assumptions can be dangerous as they allow us to hide behind the version of the story we make up in our heads.
The Learning Zone: This is where the magic happens! When we deal with problems, challenges, and the unknown - we are expanding our comfort zone circle. Our zone gets bigger and we are in the thick of it! In this zone, we are giving less power to fear and more power to ourselves. In our fear zone, we were analyzing fear so much that we gave more power to it. In this zone, we do a little less thinking, and a little more doing.
The Growth Zone: Pat yourself on the back; you are living your dreams! This is a great opportunity to exercise mindfulness. Take some time to reflect on how it felt to break outside of your comfort zone. What did you gain? Did you feel a sense of accomplishment? Did your worst fears actually come to fruition? Consider even writing down your feelings so that you can refer back to them the next time you are afraid to expand your comfort zone.
Brené Brown has a daring quote that reads, “Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky, yet not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love, belonging, and joy - the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” When we shift our mindset, and utilize strength and resilience, we are able to navigate from our comfort zone into our growth zone. It takes time and practice, and we may not always succeed. As long as we give the power to ourselves, and not to fear, we become unstoppable.
Are you interested in becoming a champion of change yourself? Want to apply these principles in your day-to-day life and condition your behaviors to enhance your quality of life? Then join us this January 7, 2022, at 6 pm for Gifts and Graces with Sharon Rose, James Patrick, and KC Miller. They invite you to make a choice to take a chance and change your life. The meaning of 2022 is all about success and hope for those who are willing to focus on their goals and purposeful path. Shift your mindset to “YES”, there is no better time for new beginnings than now!