I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my comfort zone recently. It’s a core concept in the work I do – that getting outside of it, stretching ourselves, getting uncomfortable – is access to possibility. Access to the things we really want.
This week, in an exercise I have done literally countless times with prospective and current clients over the years, one client said something totally profound.
“I always thought my fears were outside my comfort zone. Realising they are actually inside it blows my mind.”
Boom. Right there. Something staring me in the face, but I’d never heard it articulated so clearly.
Confused? Because we always talk about OUTSIDE our comfort zone being the scary bit, right? So how can our fears be inside it? That makes no sense?
Well yes. But, it is actually our deepest, most fundamental fears that are inside it, and that keep us inside it. Fears of who we might be, or not be. Fears of what we might find out about ourselves. Fears of what we might not be capable of. Fears of what others might think of us if we dare greatly – and potentially fail.
Every single one of those fears becomes the voice in our head – the monkey on our shoulder, pick your metaphor! – that says “no, don’t do that”. Don’t risk it. Don’t try that thing. Don’t expose yourself to potentially failing. Just don’t. It’s not worth it. Stay here where it’s comfortable, predictable, safe.
I don’t know about you, but I get kind of bored with that monkey. It is a real joy killer. The person at the party who sucks all the fun out of the room. It may have a loud and persuasive voice, but we don’t have to listen. We really don’t.
And while it can be kind of scary outside our comfort zone, it is also exciting, exhilarating, crazy, fun, and FULL of possibility. I’d take that kind of scary fun over a joy-killing monkey any day. (editors note – I may have stretched that metaphor just a shade too far…). The bonus is that every moment we spend outside our comfort zone also makes the fears inside it just a little bit less real.
So which do you choose? Comfortable, familiar, but still full of fear. Or taking a leap, or a wild dash outside your comfort zone to create something brand new?
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Note: I’d love to fully credit the image, but I can’t find the original source. I don’t claim it to be mine – but I love it!