Why We Struggle to Step Outside of Our Comfort Zone

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In less than 2 weeks, I will be going to my first retreat. All my life, I either stayed home or traveled with family every few years to visit relatives in Italy. This trip is a big deal for me because it will be my first without my family and my first time going somewhere other than home or Italy. It will also be my first business-related trip, a mastermind led by my mindset coach.

For most of my life, traveling alone seemed lonely, filled with unseen dangers and unpredictable outcomes. It also would have been stressful for my family, who is prone to excessive worry and quick to share fear-filled rhetoric - just like many old-fashioned Italian parents typically are. Growing up, it just seemed safer all around - for all of our sanity - to wait until marriage to travel anywhere. Anytime I’d dream of taking road trips or going on month-long backpacking trips, or even think about doing a semester abroad, I’d be overcome by fear. It became much more comfortable to stay where I was.

When the entrepreneur life came knocking, I naturally started to question things that keep me comfortable and would follow up with questions about how they were affecting my future. Little by little, I’d start doing things that made me uncomfortable or that exposed my vulnerability. It isn’t easy, doesn’t come easily for me, and it stressed me out more than anything. But it also made me more anxious not stepping outside of my comfort zone at least once a week.  

Why am I sharing this? I am sure I am not the only one who experiences fear or stress when it comes to stepping outside of our very comfortable zones. I want to create a safe space for us to share our experiences and know that we are not alone, that we are not late or behind, and we are different in our experiences and paths.

I encourage people to try stepping outside of their comfort zones, but I don’t push for this. Though we may not be ready to step outside of the zone and it may not always get easier the more we do it, it isn’t fine to shame others or force them to take the step if it doesn’t feel right or good for them. It isn’t okay to shame others into believing something is wrong with them, and you shouldn’t shame yourself into believing something is wrong with you for not jumping into things. Not everyone has arrived at the same destination at the same time.

For me, it took a lot of surrendering, praying, introspection, and grace. I knew that I would get to this point where I could travel for reasons beyond family or fear, and knowing that in my heart helped me to trust my path, myself, and God. It gave me peace during times of impatience and doubt.

How?

Here are 3 tips that really helped me begin to step into bravery as I was stepping outside of my comfort zone:

 

Ask, is it safe?

Does it feel safe to take this step? If it doesn’t, how can I make this feel safe for me? Allow it to feel safe, however long it takes, because if you don’t feel safe, you are not likely to take the step.

 

Ask, is this what I want?

Is it what I want or what others expect me to want or do? If it truly comes from you and you really want it, trust that you can and will take the step. If it comes from others, you will always find reasons to doubt or shame yourself, believing you must not want it enough. Not everyone’s step is yours to take, only yours is.

 

Ask, will it influence me (and my future) in a positive way?

Will it bring opportunities or peace or joy? Will it open up doors for your business or will it begin healing your life-long journey of self-love? If you know in your heart that it will better your life or improve it in any way, no matter how tiny it seems, then you will feel incentivized or more willing to take the step. When there are intention and hope behind it, you will likely take the step.

Remember, stepping outside of comfort zones looks differently for everyone. Take away the shame and give yourself grace and space to process it and let it give you the courage you need to step outside of the comfort zone. When you give yourself the space and grace you need, you will be ready. But it starts with you and it starts with trusting that you are not late or behind. You are right on time.

 

Which of these 3 tips will you most likely try?