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7 Small Ways to Break Out Of Your Comfort Zone That You Can Start Doing Today

7 Small Ways to Break Out Of Your Comfort Zone That You Can Start Doing Today

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch

Beyond your comfort zone lies what you really want: to grow, change, and live your life with passion. The problem? Getting there requires you to break out of your comfort zone, and going outside your comfort zone is intimidating. As scary as it is, however, pushing through your fear and getting out of your comfort zone is essential for growth. “Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracy

The below guide is a one-week action plan that you can use to break out of your comfort zone. Starting with these small steps will give you the confidence booster you need to eventually take bigger steps out of your comfort zone. By experiencing success with these small action steps, you will rapidly develop the momentum needed to make a breakthrough.

Follow this action plan for the next 7 days and you will be excited to continue stepping out of your comfort zone!

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1. Do a random act of kindness

Is there a better way to start your week by pushing out of your comfort zone to do something kind for a stranger? I think not! Random acts of kindness are awesome. They make another person’s day start off great (and honestly, who doesn’t need a mood booster on Monday morning?). There’s also a benefit to your life. By doing kind hearted things for others and expecting nothing in return (no thanks, no praise, just you quietly doing amazing stuff), you feel great. It’s Monday, grab your caffeine and get out of your bubble… it’s time to break out of your comfort zone and do something thoughtful for a stranger.

Monday’s Breakthrough Tip: Pay for a coffee for the person behind you in line at Starbucks.

2. Startle your taste buds

Coming out of your comfort zone can start in your very own kitchen! You can begin by experimenting with a new spice. Gradually you can progress to trying entirely new foods and perhaps some totally exotic foods. Some you might love, and others not so much, and that’s okay. How will you ever know if you don’t try them? The key is to start playing with different flavors and expand your palate. Instead of mindlessly creating the same boring meals from recipes you’ve used repetitively for years, start experimenting. Try arugula instead of spinach in your salad, mix a new refreshing drink, or buy some cheese you’ve never heard of (black bomber, anyone?).

Tuesday’s Breakthrough Tip: Use a new spice while cooking dinner.

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3. Strike up a conversation

Strike up a conversation with someone you never talk to – either a stranger or an acquaintance. As always, be safe (avoid late-night conversations with strangers in dark alleys). Feeling awkward and not sure what to talk about? Pay them a compliment. Better yet, tell them their kids are super cute. Everyone likes that. You never know who you’ll meet; there are likely a lot of amazing people around you every day. Who knows, maybe the person who sits next to you on the subway every day will become your new friend.

Wednesday’s Breakthrough Tip: Compliment a stranger.

4. Say I love you

How often do we tell our friends and family members how much we love and appreciate them? I’ll give you the answer – not enough. Life is short, and too often it ends abruptly. Even if your family isn’t overly emotional and doesn’t talk about feelings, get out of your comfort zone and tell your loved ones how much you care about them. It doesn’t matter if your words are written in a letter, spoken over the phone, or shared in person. Just get your thoughts out of your head and share them with those who are dearest to you.Tell them how their influence in your life has made you who you are today.

Thursday’s Breakthrough Tip: Send a card to a relative stating why you’re thankful for them.

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5. Take one baby step

According to author Joseph Epstein, “81 percent of Americans feel that they have a book in them.” There are hundreds of millions of people who apparently aspire to write. If you’re one of them, start today by setting tiny goals. If you dream to write a book, write 2 sentences today. If you have different aspirations, take a baby step in a different direction. If you want to go back to school, sign up for one class this semester. If you want to eventually run a marathon, set an initial goal of walking 5 minutes. You just need to start putting one foot in front of the other. Looking ahead at your overall big dream may be overwhelming and far out of your comfort zone; breaking it down into small chunks will significantly decrease the intimidation factor.

Friday’s Breakthrough Tip: Consider a big dream you have that is out of your comfort zone. Break it down. Set a tiny starting goal you know you can accomplish and do it today. Repeat this daily.

6. Scan the ads

Look through the newspaper and your local community education flyer. Are there any upcoming events or classes that picque your interest? Taking a class, even if it’s just a couple hours, can be out of your comfort zone if it’s something completely new to you. By learning a new skill, you just might stumble upon your passion. A friend of mine stepped out of her comfort zone and signed up for a random glass-blowing class a couple years ago, thinking it would be a fun way to kill a few hours. She absolutely loved it. So much, in fact, that she’s considering decreasing her hours in the healthcare field (she has a doctorate degree and an excellent career) to spend more time glass-blowing. She started by returning to the studio to take more classes, then began selling items she created to family and friends, and now her work is being featured in a store front.

Saturday’s Breakthrough Tip: Sign up for a local workshop to learn something new.

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7. Unplug

In today’s always “on” society, where we have instant access to all kinds of information, and we’re constantly connected to social media, it can be uncomfortable to turn it off. Yet disconnecting from your phone and internet can spark true connection with others, and give you time to reflect. Many people have a continual “fear of missing out,” and are attached nonstop to electronic devices…but does it really matter if you turn off your social media for a day? Is it seriously important for you to know what your friend from 20 years ago had for breakfast? No, it’s not, but nevertheless, unplugging in today’s world can feel uncomfortable and out of your comfort zone. Developing a habit of unplugging one day per week, as difficult as it can be, can promote mindfulness and true connection with the people who matter most in your life – those that you actually spend time with in real life, not just online.

Sunday’s Breakthrough Tip: Have everyone in your family place his or her phone in a basket on the kitchen counter, where it will stay all day, turned off. Then go out and spend the day doing something fun as a family. Actually talk to each other in the car, and spend time having fun for the sake of having fun. Don’t take pictures with the intent of posting them on social media. Just be.

Congratulations!

You’ve done it! You’ve officially survived a full week of spending time out of your comfort zone every day. Way to go!

You will do great things if you continue to have the courage to take bigger and bigger steps out of your comfort zone!

Featured photo credit: Peeking Out/Simon Turkas via flickr.com

More by this author

Dr. Kerry Petsinger

Entrepreneur, Mindset & Performance Coach, & Doctor of Physical Therapy

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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