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How to Stop Living in Fear and Start Stepping out of Your Comfort Zone

How to Stop Living in Fear and Start Stepping out of Your Comfort Zone

I think I may know why we are so obsessed with super heroes – good versus evil.

Good overcoming no matter what — no matter how big, scary or evil the arch enemy.

It’s because it symbolizes how we wish it could be in the real world.

Imagine it…your life is now a movie…

You have music in the background because you are off to work/college/meet friends and your life is pretty normal (all appears well) then on screen, we get a few scenes where your life looks great.

You water your plants (or shrug at your ability to kill anything green), walk the dog, feed the fish, kick back with a good book or hugging a loved one on the sofa with a bucket of popcorn, then all hell breaks loose…

Within 20 minutes, if your life were a film you are feeling, like nothing could ever be the same again and that no one understands what you are going through.

Fear is not the word that springs to mind. It’s more likely to be:

  • Why me?
  • Life will never be good again.
  • I can’t fight this.
  • I don’t know where to start.
  • This is too big.
  • I can’t do this alone.
  • My life is over.
  • We are all doomed!

If your life were a movie, then it’s all fine (you really don’t need to worry) because at this stage in your film life, when life is so all consumingly going in the wrong way with no way out and death is likely imminent, along comes:

  • A scientist who can’t necessarily get you back to “Normal” but can make you a nifty suit and help you become a super hero that everyone loves; after some quirky, funny and lesson learning scenes where you get a few things wrong but learn tons.
  • A rich tycoon who already has a team of super heroes they secretly work with, can see true potential in you (after the “you’re rough around the edges kid” scene) they introduce you to the other superheroes and you learn that it doesn’t matter what you are like; you will find a network of people that will love respect, trust and help you.
  • An evil so big that everything you’ve ever believed in as at risk of the worst case scenario, therefore no matter how petrified you are, you somehow find a way to save the world (and your pot plant, dog and/or loved one).

Okay back to reality.

Alas there are not many super heroes’ around (if you know otherwise – I can keep a secret), however I think we feel more than ever we need to feel that there is a solution.

Life is fun exciting, challenging (in a good way) fast paced, energized and a ton of other awesome things – but it’s also overwhelming, scary and sometimes feels like you are fighting a super villain and you don’t have the super hero kit to get through it.

I’ve never had a client ask me to help them make them a super hero, however I’ve had plenty ask me to help them feel more in control of their life – and I think that is something we all desire to some degree.

Control of our lives can be eradicated when we feel frightened, un-powerful and like we are trapped in our lives. And often the first sign that we actively recognize is a comfort zone or stress.

But if you think back to our super heroes, no matter how trapped they are, they always find a way out. A solution that no one ever thought could work and that’s often what coaching is about – coming to a problem and looking at it in a unique way that enables you to find solutions to fight fear and get out of your comfort zones. And you won’t need a scientist, a rich tycoon or a devastating intergalactically incident to find those solutions.

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I want to share with you some of the winning techniques I’ve used with my clients to help you too.

1. Rethink the Question “Am I Weird?”

I’ve had so many clients ask me this question, I think I should call my next book “Am I weird”!

Everyone thinks that the way they are responding, acting, feeling and thinking is unique; that they are the only person to feel like they can’t face work or their friends or their day because of a fear or a comfort zone.

We all have times like this and it’s important to remember 2 things:

There is no such thing as normal in my book

Everyone is just who they are. It doesn’t need analyzing, or questioning if you like who you are. Or if who you are serves you well, respects those around you. And if giving you the life, career and happiness you want, then no, it’s not weird. And it’s all good.

The issue becomes when you find yourself trying to compare your weirdness (or lack thereof) to everyone else and how that then impacts on you.

Weird is good

Check out the best characters in film, book or TV, and you are likely to see that someone else has tried to insult them with the term “weird”.

Weird is used when you want to suggest that someone or something is different. Different is not bad, the hard bit is finding the confidence to be who you are – to embrace your differences and your weirdness.

A little useful side note – according to the Oxford English Dictionary:[1]

“ Weird – The adjective (late Middle English) originally meant ‘having the power to control destiny’”

And who wouldn’t want that?

Truly, hear me when I say – embrace your weird.

2. Listen up

Just as the newly discovered super hero struggles to accept their super skills, limitations or fears, so do you have to do the same. And if you strip back any successful story (fictional or real), you will discover it’s not a magic potion or a superior race that enables the hero to achieve success, it starts with who they listen to.

How many times in your life have you heard yourself saying:

Why didn’t I listen to my gut instinct?

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Why didn’t I listen to my Mum/Aunt/Friend/Boss?

Just as being weird in its original meaning meant to be able to control destiny until you can actually do that, you do need to learn who to listen and when to listen.

Here’s how to take action on this:

Listen to yourself (sometimes)

I was working with a client who told me that they could never upset the way things worked in their company. They couldn’t tell their boss they felt there was a better way! This meant that they felt trapped in their career, incapable of achieving more and like they weren’t meeting their true potential.

Enter frustration, anger, stress, work hatred and a sense of being trapped – if only they could get out of their comfort zone and tell their boss what they thought!

Learning to trust what they knew meant that they could rationalize and justify their thoughts and reasoning and work out what to do (if anything.)

We worked together to understand why they wanted to say something:

  • Was there envy at the boss’s job or was this genuine belief that they knew a better way?
  • Could they prove what they felt was possible and the benefits to those involved?
  • Did they have ulterior motives that weren’t positive?
  • What would be the best way to move forward and why would it work best for them?

If you need to learn to listen to yourself, start by asking questions (not looking for solutions) and you will start to ask some really smart questions that help you analyse your feelings, actions, etc without guilt, stress and other negative emotions getting in the way.

This process also allows you to find answers personalized to you. In my experience, so often it’s the silly little ideas that have the most power. Okay so Dumbo is not considered a super hero – but think back to Dumbo and his magic feather that enabled him to fly, was there any magic?

Nope, but there was a belief that the magic existed – this process helps you do that.

This process also enables you to know when your own thoughts are doing their best to keep you trapped. You can become your own Kryptonite telling yourself the most awful things (that are usually not even true!) So be cautious of what you say to yourself and the questioning will help you to become more aware of this.

Choose your network wisely

We’ve all trusted someone and later questioned “How could I have let that person have had an impact on my life, thoughts and actions?”

Back to weird being a good thing, right?

But the fact is the people you choose to spend your time with can in their selves become a powerful tool to getting out of your comfort zone – but could also trap you there!

So look out for the heroes in your life, that say things like:

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  • “What’s your thoughts on that? Do you think it’s a good idea?”
  • “Where did your desire to do this come from?”
  • “Do you really want that or are you hiding something from yourself?
  • “Hang on a minute, you can do this, remember the time you did xxxx”

People that can supply you with evidence of your brilliance and who reinforce the positive and your goals, but also challenge your beliefs, thoughts and actions are like gold dust (or super hero serum.)

They will enable you to be able to take a step back and really understand why your comfort zones are controlling your life. They are there to celebrate your wins, appreciate your frustrations when it doesn’t go to plan and give you the faith and confidence to keep going – don’t think you can do it all on your own.

Everyone, even super heroes get an element of confidence from their network. It’s not all internal!

And look out for the super villains who say:

  • “Are you sure you want to do that?”
  • “That sounds like a lot of work, are you up to that?”
  • “Why would you want to do that, I thought you loved your life/work/partner/house plant.”
  • “You should tell them what you really think.”

People that make comments like these aren’t looking at it from your point of view, or with your ultimate wants and needs at the heart of their responses. They are seeing it from their perspective of life and their own limitations on what they feel can be achieved; and this influences the way they respond.

Yes, there are a few social vampires out there that will try and ruin your belief in anything better but, most super villains are far subtler than that.

3. Go Deeper

In life, we often get an inkling of what needs to change or feel like something is not right. If you dig deeper, you usually find it’s not the first thoughts that were the issue.

When I work with clients, the “Go deeper” exercise always (and I genuinely mean always!) produces the big Eureka moments. It’s almost as if they are hearing their own voice for the first time.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Firstly start with a thought (any thought related to why you feel like there is a comfort zone or a fear) and write it down.
  2. Now write below it the answer to this question: “And that means?”
  3. Now below that ask yourself: “What does that mean?”
  4. Keep going asking further questions like:
    • “So how does that affect me?”
    • “What does that mean to me?”
    • “Is that really what I think?”
    • “If this is the case what does that mean I must believe?
    • Does that serve me well?”
    • What does that mean?”

This process enables you to really explore what’s going on in your brain and can be used in so many elements in your life.

4. Be Your Own Coach

I’ve worked with coaches and mentors for many years and I don’t think I could be without one to challenge me in the ways I’ve share with you.

After years of challenging questions and realities, creating goals and getting great results, I know to a degree I can coach myself. As one coach told me “Mandie, you don’t need anyone to kick your butt – you do it for yourself” That was a good session.

So sometimes, it’s enough to coach yourself. By taking on the role of your own coach, just give yourself a little time once a month where you actually challenge what you think.

Here’s a few ideas to help make that a powerful moment:

Free write

Don’t think about what you write, just let the pen go to the paper and write anything – in the random thinking there is often the right questions and thoughts to follow – if you create the space to do it.

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If you crave order and structure, don’t free flow.

If you love art, then draw. If you hate numbers and lists, steer clear of them. You want to create a new way of thinking that is natural to you, not what you read in a book or heard in the office as “a good idea.”

Learn to explore your natural style. Ask yourself: When set a task, how do I love to work, think, explore, learn and act? This will guide you to the best approach to coaching yourself.

Create your own discipline

Do you need to diary time to be your own coach or is it enough to know that you want to do this and get results? Just like finding your natural style, you need to learn how you will create your own definition of discipline.

Get this wrong and you’re highly unlikely to be taking action in 3 months’ time!

Tell someone

I’ve seen some awesome planners laid out in many colours with lots of tabs and tons of ideas. But as that new client realized, great ideas are little use without action.

The first step to the action is to actually tell someone you are going to do it. Do you need to declare your goal online? Phone a friend or just stick a picture on your kitchen wall?

You will learn what makes you take action, which leads to our last idea…

5. Know When to Start And Stop

Knowing what to do and actually taking action and knowing when to stop and when to go for it are 2 very important skills.

If you take action on what we talked about today, you will not only challenge yourself, but also challenge those that can manipulate and mould you.

You will learn to trust and have faith. Llittle by little (not always – some clients see massive levels of change after just a couple of hours), you will step out of your comfort zone. As I described it to one client years ago:

“Some people like to slowly step out of their comfort zones and others like to leap so far out that they can’t see it any more. Learn to know which you are.”

Neither is wrong, neither is right. Some people like big challenges, big goals and big actions; others like no one to know what they aim to challenge but quietly work through their action plan to achieve it.

The true super hero in any film learns to know what works for them, accept it, love and go for it. And they don’t need a scientist, a tycoon or super villains either.

Featured photo credit: Ludomił via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Oxford English Dictionary: Weird

More by this author

Mandie Holgate

Coach, International BEST Selling Author, Speaker & Blogger helping thousands around the world.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Live Your Best Life Starting Today

How to Live Your Best Life Starting Today

As human beings, one of our deepest-rooted desires is to have a meaningful and happy existence. You’ve probably heard of the saying, “Live your best life.” It’s good advice.

We all want to feel connected to both ourselves and others. We want to feel that we’re part of something important and that we’re making a difference in the world.

We want to look back at our lives and our achievements and be proud. In short, we want what the saying says: to live our best lives.

But what does it really mean to live your best life?

You are a unique individual, so living your best life is exclusive to you. Your best life will reflect your true values. It will be made up of what makes you happy and will be colored by what making a difference means to you.

What Stops You From Living Your Best Life?

While living your best life is all about you, what other people think can have an impact on your quest to live your best life.

Social media, for example, puts us under a lot of pressure. There are specific expectations of what “happy” looks like, and we’re under pressure to conform to what society expects.

For example, we are pressured to look a certain way, wear the “right” clothes, have exciting adventures with eye-catching friends, eat ethical and healthy food, and do charity work.

These are only a few of society’s expectations. It’s a long list.

Social media claims to connect us, but often it can do the opposite.

We can spend so much time worrying about what other people are doing, trying to live the life that society expects of us, that it can be easy to lose track of what makes us happy and what our best life actually looks like.

Start the Journey

What does it look like to live your best life? The following are some practical tips and tools to move from living your current life to living your best life.

1. Be the Best Version of Yourself

To live your best life, you must be the best version of yourself. Don’t try to be something or someone else. Don’t try to be what other people want you to be.

Focus on who you want to be. Play to your strengths and be proud of what makes you different. You are brilliant.

Gretchen Rubin, in her book Happiness Project, created her own commandments. The first one was “Be Gretchen.” This gave her permission to follow her gut feeling and make up her own rules.

For example, she stopped forcing herself to enjoy parties, cocktails, and fashion just because that’s what she thought society expected.

So, inspired by Gretchen, create your own commandment: “Be more YOU,” and remind yourself of this every day, unapologetically.

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2. Observe Yourself

To work out what the best you looks like, you must get to know yourself better. It’s your best life after all – not anyone else’s.

Start to notice how you respond to various situations. What are your habits? What makes you happy? What frustrates you? How do you behave under pressure? What gives you energy? What drains you?

Spend a week simply noticing. Write your observations down so you remember.

3. Identify Your Bad Habits

As part of your observations, start to notice your bad habits. Consider the things that don’t ultimately make you feel good.

Does scrolling mindlessly through Instagram make you happy? For 5 minutes, perhaps, but for longer?

That last glass of wine was delicious, but do you pay the price later?

That chocolate was enjoyable at the moment, but now that the sugar high is over, are you feeling regretful?

Observe yourself first. Then, start to deliberately do more of the things that make you happy and give you energy.

At the same time, work on reducing then eliminating the habits that squander your time, drain your energy, and ultimately don’t make you happy.

Need help conquering your bad habits? Read How to Break Bad Habits Once and For All.

4. Set Intentions

After having thought about what makes you happy and what drains your energy, focus on what living the best life looks like for you.

One of the keys to this is being intentional about it. When you deliberately set intentions, you are more likely to act with purpose and drive.

Setting intentions is different from setting goals. Goals are your list of things you want to achieve. You can set them daily, monthly, yearly, or a combination.

A common practice is to define goals and write them down. This makes them more tangible and makes you more accountable, therefore, making the goals more likely to happen.

The subtle yet important difference between goals and intentions is that when setting intentions, you decide what kind of positive feelings and emotions you are seeking.

For example, “This week, my intention is to approach my admin tasks with gusto in order to complete them more quickly.”

Intentions can be more motivating than goals because if you don’t achieve your goal, it can feel like a failure and can ultimately hold you back.

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If you don’t achieve your intention to approach something in a specific way, you can more easily regroup and have another try.

Write down your intentions every month, week, or day, using whichever time frame works best for you.

For example, “I intend to enjoy going swimming three times this week” or “I intend to assertively build my network in my local area this month.”

Setting intentions gives you something to focus on, and it also helps to manage the feeling of being overwhelmed that often happens when we set ourselves goals.

5. Visualize Living Your Best Life

Visualization can help you to cement your intentions. It involves visualizing how it would feel to live your best life once you achieve it.

It can help you to further establish what you want and allow you to settle into a positive mindset.

To visualize, first choose your focus. Choose a specific intention and how you will feel once it is accomplished. Then, take the time to daydream and allow your imagination to wander.

For example, if your intention is going swimming three times a week, imagine what you will look and feel like:

  • What will you wear?
  • How do you get there?
  • What time of day do you go?
  • How do you feel when you’re in the water?
  • How do you feel afterward?

Ask yourself these little questions and allow yourself to feel the same feelings you would feel if you were currently fulfilling your intention.

10 Ways to Live Your Best Life

Now that you’ve decided and visualized what your best life looks like, let’s look at some more practical steps you can take to achieve it.

1. Focus

Whatever you do, focus. If you swim, swim. If you study, study. Multitasking is a myth. It’s not possible to do more than one thing at a time well. Focused work is the least tiresome and the most productive type of work.

Michael LeBouf, the author of The Millionaire in You, said,

“Winners focus, losers spray.”

2. Take Responsibility for Taking Action

Taking action can feel scary. We fear failure, but we can also fear success. It can be easy to feel too busy to achieve your intentions.

However, you have the choice to take action and live your best life or stay the same. It’s up to you, so take responsibility to take action.

3. Live in the Present

Every day is a new opportunity to live your best life. We so often get stuck because we put things off.

We can think, “When I’ve lost 10 lbs I’ll go swimming,” or “When I feel more confident I’ll look for a new job,” or “When I get my new running shoes I’ll start running.”

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How about starting from where you are? How about using what you already have?

We often put off taking action until we have the newest phone/camera/game/course/book/shoes as if they are the keys to happiness. In the process, we forget about what we already have.

Grab the camera that you have, put on your old running shoes. Go and do something interesting today with what you’ve got. Fancier gadgets, better clothes, or a slimmer body won’t make you better.

Action will.

4. Declutter

This applies to the environment you live in as well as the people you spend time with. Use Marie Kondo’s decluttering method of asking, “Does it bring you joy?”[1]

If your answer is yes, you keep the item. If you hesitate or say no, you donate it or throw it out. Simple.

This also applies to people. If there are people in your life that make you feel bad, drain your energy, and don’t bring you joy, let go of them.

Instead, spend time with the people and activities that give you energy and make you feel good.

5. Relish the Simple Things

When we’re busy, we can forget to appreciate what we have. Take time to focus on the simple things. Even when you’re feeling low, there’s always something to be grateful for.

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.[2] Be deliberate in being grateful for what you do have, rather than resentful of what you don’t.

6. Journaling

Journaling

is simply writing your thoughts down.

According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, writing your thoughts and feelings down on paper not only helps you get your thoughts in order, but it can also help ease symptoms of depression and manage stress and anxiety.[3]

In the chaos of life, it is easy to overthink, feel anxious, or not appreciate what you do have. Journaling can help you manage your thoughts and feelings and productively cope with life.

Be curious and keep learning. Ask more questions and keep pushing yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and learn.

What are you interested in or curious about? Perhaps it’s learning more about where you live, or reading up on a particular topic? Maybe it’s traveling to a new town or country?

According to Dan Pink’s research, learning is a key motivator.[4] Whether you feel like you’ve gotten stuck in a boring routine or you’re stressed by the tasks of daily life, learning something new is a way to step outside yourself and your comfort zone.

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Create a bucket list of all the things you’d like to do and learn and the places you’d like to go to, and start ticking them off.

7. Make Someone’s Day

Being kind to others makes them feel good, and it also releases chemicals in your body that make you feel good. Think about a time you gave someone a gift that they loved. How did you feel?

You don’t have to start giving people gifts to make someone’s day. Think about small, thoughtful gestures: a genuine compliment, opening the door, offering to help someone.

All these things can make a big difference in someone’s day.

8. Look After Your Body

Eat what nourishes you, including plenty of vegetables and fruit and food that’s natural and unprocessed. Drink plenty of water.

Exercise because you like it, not because you’re supposed to go to the gym.

Reject the idea that you have to push yourself really hard at exercise, and instead try out a variety of things – for example, walking the dog, gardening, yoga, swimming, or dancing.

Find what you enjoy. When you enjoy something, you’ll be motivated to do it more.

Get good rest! We’re all different in terms of the amount of sleep that we need. However, most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep.

If you’re not getting that much, then check out healthy sleep tips from the Sleep Foundation.[5]

More tips for staying healthy: Powerful Daily Routine Examples for a Healthy and High-Achieving You.

9. Manage Your Inner Critic

Most people have an inner critic that tells them they are not good enough, that they’re a fraud, and that they are going to be found out.

This happens especially when we step out of our comfort zone and change things. If you are living your best life, your inner critic likes to jeopardize that.

The next time it appears, acknowledge what’s happening and call it out. Whatever it is telling you, list all the reasons it’s wrong.

10. Be Prepared to Change the Plan

You may have set intentions to live your best life. However, life is not linear, nor does it work in lists. You must expect to be flexible and change the plan as life throws things at you.

The end game remains the same: to live your best life. It’s just the route to get there that will inevitably change.

Conclusion

Live each day like it counts, and remember, it’s your choice. Your best life is unique to you. Don’t compare yourself to others – focus on living your best life, and enjoy the learning, exploration, and experiences along the way.

More Tips on How You Can Live Your Best Life

Featured photo credit: Juliana Malta via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Kon Mari: Tidy your space, transform your life
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: In Praise of Gratitude
[3] University of Rochester Medical Center: Journaling for Mental Health
[4] Daniel H. Pink: Dan Pink on Motivation
[5] Sleep Foundation: Healthy Sleep Tips

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