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5 Steps You Should Take If You No Longer Want To Stay In Your Comfort Zone

5 Steps You Should Take If You No Longer Want To Stay In Your Comfort Zone

Do you want to get out of your comfort zone? Congratulations! That’s awesome. Stepping out of your comfort zone is where growth occurs. According to Neale Donald Walsch, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

Staying in your comfort zone feels safe and secure. Getting out of it requires admitting we’re not satisfied, pushing past procrastination, setting goals, and learning new things. It requires us to break out of the invisible barrier that holds us back from reaching our full potential and living the life of our dreams.

Getting out of your comfort zone can feel risky, but I believe it’s a much bigger risk to do nothing. When you think ahead and picture your life years from now, and picture yourself at the same job, doing roughly the same weekly routine, year after year, are you happy? Does that make you super excited? Or does it fill you with dread? Is it exciting, or is it boring? If picturing your life ahead makes you feel stuck and frustrated, it’s time to shake things up.

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Here are 5 steps to take when you want to break free from your comfort zone.

1. Surround yourself with inspiring people

Who you hang out with greatly influences you. The people you surround yourself with can affect your habits, your attitude, and your willingness to step out of your comfort zone. One of my absolute most favorite quotes is by Jim Rohn, who says: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Want to skyrocket your progress toward your huge goals? Surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to do. Get out of your house and go connect with these people.

If you don’t know anyone in your personal life who is doing what you aspire to do, you’re still in luck. There are millions of online forums for people working toward achieving certain goals. There are thousands of books in your local bookstore you can read about inspiring people. The first step is learning and setting your goals!

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2. Challenge your body

Challenging yourself physically is one of the best ways to start getting out of your comfort zone. The confidence you gain by setting goals for yourself physically and then achieving them is amazing and can transfer into many other areas of your life. When you prove to yourself you really can lose the 30 extra pounds you’ve lugged around for years, or run that race, you’ll start realizing you truly can do awesome things.

Setting physical goals for yourself teaches you self-discipline, proves to yourself you can kick that procrastination habit, and helps you feel better about yourself. When you feel your best, you can be your best, and you’ll be more likely to step out of your comfort zone in other areas of your life. Not only that, but exercise has other benefits: it causes the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones. Who doesn’t need some of those? (As always, have your physician give you the okay before starting an exercise program).

3. Take tiny steps

Stepping out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to be something totally dramatic. The key is to practice taking small steps out of your comfort zone every day. Here’s a one-week action plan of small steps to help you break out of your comfort zone. When you start regularly taking tiny steps out of your comfort zone, you’ll build the confidence and momentum to take more steps out of your comfort zone.

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Just keep taking one small step per day to stretch yourself out of your invisible barrier.

4. Focus on others

With every conversation you have, focus on what the other person is saying. When you’re constantly worrying about how you look, what the other person thinks of you, and what you want to say, you’re really not listening at all. Focusing on learning about the other person in every conversation will make you a better communicator and take some pressure off of you.

Focusing on others can help you take steps forward with your big dreams, too. When you have an ambitious goal, it’s easy to get trapped in many fears: What if I fail? What will they think of me? What if I’m not smart enough? When you find yourself stuck in your comfort zone due to fear, work on changing your thoughts. Instead of feeding into the “What if this doesn’t work out and everything in my entire life falls apart….” mindset, try saying, “I have a great idea. As scary as it is to start a new business, the world could greatly benefit from my product, and I can help many people if I work toward the goal of launching my new business.”

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5. Fake it until you become it

As Amy Cuddy says, “Fake it until you become it.” If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend taking a few minutes to watch Amy Cuddy’s TedTalk on Body Language. Her research found that doing very simple “power poses” for just 2 minutes significantly changes our hormone levels, leading to increased confidence. Check out the Ted Talk to see how to do these poses. They are very simple, but as weird as it sounds, they can literally change your life. Faking it until you become it can help give you the confidence you need to break out of your comfort zone.

When you act small, and hide in the “security” of your comfort zone, you aren’t impacting the world like you could be. It’s time to get out of your comfort zone and start playing big.

Featured photo credit: should i?/EladeManu via flickr.com

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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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