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Life Is About Leaving The Comfort Zone And A Little More

Life Is About Leaving The Comfort Zone And A Little More

We all do it. We get comfortable, we settle in, we buckle up, we play it safe. In habitual, neurological fashion, our brain processes this comfort zone as the best way to experience life because it feels safe, and safe means we won’t die. But this comfort zone is merely a habit, passed down through generations of ancestors who actually needed to be safe from wild animals, severe weather, lack of food. In other words, this comfort zone does not serve us.

What does serve us is getting out into the world and experiencing life. Soaking in the world’s diversity, chaos, and wonder. Stepping into new experiences and pushing our own comfort zones beyond the borders of fight or flight. So here’s how to get a little more out of your life by leaving your comfort zone:

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Where you are right at this moment is not (necessarily) where you need to be for the rest of your life.

The thing we have to sort out in our brains from time to time is that nothing in this life is inevitable. Absolutely everything and everyone we surround ourselves with is a choice. Which means it is up to you to forge your path. If you’re living at home, or in a city you’re not crazy about, or working a job that is just sort of okay, this isn’t a life sentence. Expand what you think is possible. Write down an ideal life for yourself. Make it absurd, make it unconventional, make it connected to your gut feeling, not your skeptical brain. Then write down your daily life as it stands now. These two lists hold the same amount of non-inevitability, but you made a choice to live one of them. Make a new choice.

If you never leave your 100-mile radius, get out of town and see more of the world. 

There is more to life than just what is in front of our noses. We can reason away that we’re expanding our horizons by trying a new Thai restaurant, or seeing a new play, but that’s not the same as leaving the comfort of our familiar streets and heading out into the unknown. Changing up our geographical location shakes up our insides. Simply being in a new landscape where you are literally looking at new things can change your entire life perspective. With apps like Airbnb, Living Social, and Groupon, there is no reason you can’t switch things up on the fly. Do not think. Just go.

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Just say yes. 

There is one rule in improv comedy: “Yes, and…” You don’t say no to your scene partner because it stops the action. Saying no means everything screeches to a halt and the flow that was building gets immediately shut down. Saying “Yes, and…” to life means you are open to experiences and people, you don’t immediately shut down when someone offers an opportunity and you are able to move forward with both trust and enthusiasm. The next time someone asks you to do something that would take you out of your comfort zone, follow these three steps: Slow Down. Listen. Say yes.

Try all the things you know you want to do. 

You know those things you wanted to do as a kid? Be an astronaut, go horseback riding, write the best sci-fi novel ever written? Chances are there is still a little bit of that desire resonating in your bones. Sit down and make a long list of things that spark a mild interest in you. If you’re not sure where to begin, try a random search engine like StumbleUpon to get your creative juices flowing. Look at your list and assign one new thing to each month of the year. You’re not committing to much, just one new activity a month, but it will fill you up and break your comfort zone on the regular.

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Talk to strangers. 

We are so trained to think strangers will harm us, especially when we live in a big city. But strangers offer a perspective that our friends and family just aren’t giving us. Standing in line for coffee and talking to a stranger usually means there is no pretense. Neither of you care so much what the other thinks, so you’re just a meeting of the minds in that one moment in time. Talking to strangers can be disarming and freeing and let you see the world in all its magical diversity and expansiveness.

Do something you know you won’t be good at.

Maybe the best way to get out of your comfort zone is to do something that will not make you look good. Go ahead and fail. The best way to see that your comfort zone is holding you back from experiencing all the abundance life has to offer is to realize that when you fail, your heart keeps beating, your next breath comes, and it doesn’t hurt as much as you thought it would. When you do something you know you’ll stink at, you begin the learning process again. That learning process is uncomfortable at first, but think about how much you’ve already learned in life. If you hit a certain age and think there is nothing left to learn, you’ve just shut yourself off to the wide range of life’s experiences. Doing something you might fail at is the best initiator for innovation, creation and quantum leaps. Failing never felt so good.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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