Ever feel as if you are hopelessly stuck in a rut? As if you can’t get what you want in life so you just settle for what you can get easily.
Or maybe you’ve just allowed yourself to become a creature of habit and you’ve settled into what’s familiar.
It may feel comfy for a while, but the sad fact is that most of our regrets in life come from making fear-based decisions instead of courageous ones. And if you’re stuck in your comfort zone, you’re probably doing just that.
Do you think that fear may be getting in the way of the life you really want? You’re certainly not alone.
Here are 4 of the most common excuses people make that keep them stuck in their comfort (actually merely “familiar”) zones that may be trapping you now.
Top Excuse #1: “I have fears that other people don’t.”
Okay, this is always going to be partially true.
For example, if you’re Justin Timberlake, you probably aren’t afraid of singing karaoke on Tuesday night at the Drunken Monkey. If you’re someone who isn’t used to singing? Well, sure you probably are scared.
The thing is that JT has been performing professionally since he was a kid. But what if you asked him to play quarterback for the Patriots? He’d probably be nervous, and rightfully so. Why? It’s new to him! It’s out of his comfort zone. But imagine the thrill of dropping back into the pocket those first few times and completing some passes.
When you stretch yourself, you’re going to have some fears pop up – but you’ll also have that magic of novelty. Of testing your edges. Of breaking into something new.
Most people think confidence is some magical thing that some people just “have.” That may seem true, but it’s usually simply that those who seem confident merely have more experience and have gathered more internal and external positive feedback in what they’ve been doing. You can only achieve that if you stick a foot out of your familiar zone and start that cycle.
Everyone has fear when they do that, but every time you notch a small win, that fear starts to dissipate.
Top Excuse #2: “If I didn’t have fear, I could do what I wanted.”
Well sure, that sentiment seems to makes sense on the surface. On the other hand, it’s absurd.
You imagine that the only way to move forward into the life you want is to already have the confidence of having achieved your goals in the first place!
Have you ever seen a guy do a couple of shots before he walks up and talk to a girl? What they call “liquid courage?”
Does alcohol help? Yeah, it might for a bit, but it’s cheating him out of real growth, of facing his fear on his own and stepping into the fire. Using a drug to mask your fear doesn’t help your develop the resilience to move through it.
The next time that guy wants to talk to a lovely young women, he’ll have grown not a jot. He’ll be exactly where he was before — and back to the shots. He won’t have developed his confidence or have handled his fear on his own.
Fear should never stop you from taking bold action in your life. There is only way through — and it’s direct.
Step into the fire of your fear. Or, as one book title says, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” You don’t need to be free of fear to make a bold move out of your comfort zone. You just need to step right though it.
And if you want to be authentic about it, feel free to say it out loud: “Hi, I saw you from across the room and you look so sweet and beautiful. I wanted to come and introduce myself — and I’m actually kind of nervous about it.”
She may be impressed with your honesty. The next time you do it, you’ll notice that your old nervousness isn’t coming up like it used to.
Top Excuse #3: “I need more self-esteem before I do what I want.”
Again, the only way to develop self-esteem is to prove to yourself that you can act in the face of your fear!
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you’re at karaoke, terrified to sing, and you decide to go up there anyway. What’s the worst that can happen? Say you are terrible, then Lady Gaga rolls in and kills it! Does that suddenly make you a worse person? No! It means you’ve just sung on the same stage as Lady Gaga.
It’s all how you decide to frame it. You can always frame things to highlight your faults or your attributes.
You didn’t get dumped by your ex, you got out of a dead-end relationship and are free to find the right person for you.
Self-esteem develops when you do your best and you see that you come out alive on the other side. Even if you didn’t bring down the house, you get to have the accomplishment of having done your best, which is all you can ever do.
Self-esteem means that you say to yourself “I am worthy” because of you who you are, not because of the quality of your accomplishments.
Top Excuse #4: “I’ll just do it next time.”
So often, you are close to making the leap out of your comfort zone. There you stand, so close, on the edge, one foot out, and then you pull back saying, “I’m just not quite ready.” Maybe you think you need to study a little more. Or practice a little more. Or follow the no-contact rule for a couple more weeks. Or double-check your notes. Or say your affirmations first.
And you start justifying, “It’s no big difference if I wait a few days or weeks or years longer.”
But it is a big difference. Again, the big benefit of acting now rather than making excuses is that (1) you get the experience of taking a risk, (2) you get to learn from your risk-taking and get wiser, and (3) you get to feel higher self-esteem because you’ve leapt where others may have faltered.
You want send signals to your brain that though the world is a dangerous place, you have the courage and decisiveness to act in the face of your fear.
The alternative is to send an emotionally abusive signal to your brain that you are weak and scared and that the world is a more powerful force than your own will.
This mindset will keep you cowering in your comfort zone forever. Nothing great ever happens without courage.
When you do take that jump out of the tight constrictions of your comfort zone, you will not only build your resilience, self-esteem, courage, and confidence, but you are also likely to feel the thrill of adventure, of being alive.
And you get to love your courage, and yourself, regardless of the results.
Featured photo credit: Dan Cooper via stokpic.com