Comfort Zones Are Liars

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I’m pretty good about watching myself from the outside and seeing when I’m stuck in a comfort zone. That doesn’t mean that this makes getting out of my cozy little zone any easier because I am a master of holding on. But by being aware, I can at least call myself out when I make excuses or otherwise justify ways to stay in the comfort zone.

Hold tight while I travel back a bit. I can so clearly remember the day that severe depression dove headfirst into my life. It was my 16th birthday and I was in the basement talking on the phone to my friend. The birthday had been like any other, meaning that it hadn’t been much of anything. A chocolate cake with my favorite frosting and a gift or two. I don’t know what we were talking about, I just remember that I suddenly burst into big, deep, uncontrollable sobs. Sobs that I couldn’t stop. I felt a shift, I knew that something had changed.

I spent the next decade with very severe depression. I often talk about how, for any struggle you are facing, there are almost endless ways to remedy it. Yet it is not so easy as just picking one and presto magico, all is well.

It is trying one after the other after the other. Yes, there are many things that have worked for others, and that can work for you. But. It is timing, openness, and readiness. The old “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

In my case, it was a simple saying that I probably had heard dozens of times during my depression. Yet one day suddenly, I not only heard it, I felt it and I took it in. “You can only have one thought in your mind at a time, so make it a good one.” Nothing big and splashy, just a boring old saying. That was the teacher that appeared at just the right time for me.

Here’s something else you probably hear a lot: Change is both the easiest and hardest thing you can do. Anyone who has experienced a huge change gets this. It literally felt like a switch going off in my head. The change was that easy. But holy cow was it hard. Because I had to say goodbye to my comfort zone.

When we become comfortable, do you know what happens around us? Absolutely nothing. Each day becomes just like the one before. We do what we have always done, therefore we get what we have always gotten.”

-Kip Davis

Comfort zones really are liars. They convince your mind that they are like warm, cuddly blankets just hugging and loving on you. That’s seriously how it felt for me when I was curled up crying on the floor for hours and hours on end, having my eyes swell shut, dreaming of killing myself, and feeling pain in every inch of my soul. It was my warm blanket. Now, if that’s not messed up, I don’t know what is.

“Whether we’re talking about mental or physical effort, the first step to embracing the suck is to step up and face your fear of suffering.  We all share this fear, which stems from a deep-rooted need for certainty and security.  Pain is your body’s way of telling you that security is threatened because something is out of whack.  However, when you consistently experience the personal growth that accrues from deliberately putting yourself out of balance…you begin to embrace that temporary pain for the rewards it brings.  The fear recedes into oblivion as you embrace the suck.”

Mark Divine

It was a tug-of-war for many months. I would hear and FEEL the message about only one thought in my head and I would consciously pull back from entering into my spirals where I would latch onto one bad, painful thought and just chew on it so eagerly, allowing it to grow and take on a life of its own.

Ahhhhh that’s the place I felt the safest and most at home. I missed that place and felt lost without it. I had to constantly be on alert and kick that itch to go back, just for one little second. More than once, I did believe that I could just drop in for a visit, just for a quick “hug” and then be on my way.

When things get tough or uncomfortable, we tell ourselves: it’s OK to quit, it doesn’t matter, we’ll do it next time, we’re not disciplined enough, we suck at this, we can’t do it, it’s too hard, it would be nice to take a break, life is too short to struggle, we deserve a reward, just this once won’t matter, we’re going to fail, it’s better to fail quietly, we just don’t feel like it right now, let’s not think about this, hey a squirrel! ”

Leo Babauta

See what I mean about comfort zones being liars? They are crafty little snakes always trying to lure you back. Just knowing that will empower you. Find a way to quickly identify when you are being deceived into going back to your comfort and call it out. Bonus points if you can make yourself smile by thinking something silly like “liar, liar pants on fire!”

I got traction by looking at it like a hangry, fit-throwing 2-year-old who just wants her blankie. Bam! I’d swoop in like a mom who means business and is D-O-N-E with the fits, grab that hand and yank it the heck away from there. Whatever works for you. Do that. Just kick those liars to the curb.

This is for any and all comfort zones. I talk about my depression here, but dern! I get stuck in comfort zones of all shapes, sizes and colors of the rainbow. Here are some of my top sparkly warrior tools to bust out of comfort zones (link coming soon).

When I say warrior, I am not talking about being tough on yourself and enlisting in a mental Marines BootCamp where you push yourself to the point of feeling pain.

I’m talking about using your mind and your soul to gently allow the tiniest sparks to come into your sight and being ok with that beginning. Then loving and appreciating those tiny specks of light and letting them grow and produce more sparks. That’s getting unstuck, warrior style!

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