Your comfort zone – at what cost?

We are creatures of habit – this is a saying that is well known and for good reason because we are that, habitualists. It’s not just in our jobs or socially or even a ‘nasty habit’ like smoking, it’s even down to the way we think and feel. Some people stay in jobs or relationships for longer than is necessary because well, for many reasons and usually for some unknown reason like “what else am I going to do?”

To be pushed out of our comfort zone we don’t like it, we go back to the “comfort” because it’s what we know, it’s predictable. Mainly, it’s our fear talking. Fear has this unimaginably big voice that we listen to and agree with.

Fear pulls us back whenever we get a glimpse of courage to do something different. Fear has this deadening grip on most people.

We are creatures of habit – this is a saying that is well known and for good reason because we are that, habitualists. It’s not just in our jobs or socially or even a ‘nasty habit’ like smoking, it’s even down to the way we think and feel. Some people stay in jobs or relationships for longer than is necessary because well, for many reasons and usually for some unknown reason like “what else am I going to do?”

To be pushed out of our comfort zone we don’t like it, we go back to the “comfort” because it’s what we know, it’s predictable. Mainly, it’s our fear talking. Fear has this unimaginably big voice that we listen to and agree with. Fear pulls us back whenever we get a glimpse of courage to do something, anything different. Fear has this deadening grip on most people.

We grow up with lots of messages about what we can do and what we can’t do – “you’re no good at this”, “you can’t do that!” Maybe that was drawing or singing, maybe sports or acting. Maybe it was wanting a career in a certain field; and I wonder how many of us were told, “you can’t do that you haven’t got the right grades” or some passing comment such as, “why would you want to do that?” Perhaps it was a teacher or a parent who said this, perhaps it was a friend – what they all have in common is judging others by their own limitations. People are pretty good at putting others in a box because it is comfortable for them to reinforce their perceived knowledge and judged something or someone by their own experience because the truth is either they have not done what they say you can’t do or they cannot possibly know what you or any person is capable of.

The downside though, is we put ourselves in that box based on the opinion of said others and living in fear of their judgments. So, now as adults we have got pretty good at telling ourselves what we can and can’t do.

But what is outside of that box?

The fear of the unknown, of doing something different – that no one in your family has done or none of your friends. I remember when I was in trouble at school, a teacher or my mum would say things like, “would you jump of a cliff if your friends did it?” And rolling my eyes and giving not only the predictable but the required, “no!” Yet we seem not to apply this logic in circumstances that are progressive to an individual, only in times of stupidity or anti-social behaviour of said individual. There is a real collective need to follow the crowd, to conform when it comes to being socially accepted and I wonder at what cost?

Now it could be learning a new language or taking up a new skill, like playing the guitar; it could be starting a new business or leaving your job to travel the world. It could be coming to counselling.

There will be lots of reasons not to.

There will be a compulsion to run back to the “comfort” of the known.

Just know that nothing changes if you don’t take a leap of faith into the unknown.

Counselling is getting out of your comfort zone and there needs to be an appreciation from both the counsellor and client on what it takes to make that step. As well as a respect for the journey – the hardest part is amassing the courage  to ask for professional help. The next steps on the journey will see many ups and downs, requiring courage to stay with the process and belief that the outcome will be worth it.

The cost of not getting out of your comfort zone? A sense of the life that hasn’t been lived, where we haven’t felt the courage to have our needs met or that we actually have needs that need meeting. Persistently denying or repressing ourselves, leads to a sense of pervasive emptiness. The emptiness may be filled with alcohol, drugs or more simply shopping or even Netflix, how about social media – all distractions from ourselves.

What is it about ourselves that we can’t bear to get to know? Why is it so much easier to believe in what we can’t do than what we can do? Why is it so much easier to listen to someone else as an authority on ourselves than to listen to the only authority our self – me?

Now you wouldn’t jump off that cliff with everyone else. You know better.

If there is one thing you can do, it is: think for yourself. Think how would I feel if I did that thing? Think how amazing it would be if I learnt this? Think – what if?

What if?

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