“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” – Max DePree
What we refer to as our ‘comfort zone’ is the space in which we feel comfortable, and in control. You might also call it the ‘control zone’. When we move outside of it, or push its borders, we can feel anxious, uneasy and unsafe, without the familiarity of knowing we have our knowledge, skills and experience to back us up. Stepping outside can feel like there is no safety net anymore, and that anything can happen.
The challenge is this: It feels unsafe to lose control, to be on rocky ground. But on the outside of this zone, magic happens. So long as we want to grow and learn, we will want a piece of it. Let’s call this the ‘learning zone’. Being a little anxious keeps us alert and awake, and therefore sharpen all our senses. If you speak to any successful performer, athlete or speaker, they will tell you how they have pushed this anxiety limit all the way to the top.
How you feel about your entire life will tell you a great deal about how comfortable you are. It might not be what you would expect, but when you are unsatisfied, you are most likely also comfortable. But living a life filled with routines that keep you doing the same thing every day, waiting for Friday to show up, is not a fulfilling one. You might feel comfortable at best, but not fulfilled. To a thriving enthusiast, however, Friday is just another day of the week, and no week looks the same. But inside the comfort zone, there’s order and continuity, repetitions and structure. The safety net is clearly visible.
Nevertheless, structure can be a powerful tool. Healthy habits can create some great groundwork from which we may operate in safety and comfort. For example, I would not want to step outside my perfectly planned environment for writing any of my books, nor would I spend the time I set aside for silence and gratitude to be anything but calm and safe. But, when I am looking for growth and learning, I always challenge myself. It makes perfect sense that a new perspective, a new skill and a new mindset has to come from stretching outside of familiarity and certainty — that anything new must come from a new perspective. And in the same way, new learning is easier to accomplish where you are more alert and on point.
The comfort zone might sound pleasant enough, and at times it will be, but even though we feel comfortable we might be hurting ourselves. As with false beliefs and the resistance to change, we can easily be held back from growth opportunities by our own pain and suffering. How sweet it is to wallow in our own sorrow, and to be comfortably able to say ‘no’ to anything that will take our focus from our truth.
The more and longer we stay within our zone, the smaller it tends to get, and the harder it is to step outside. We get even more comfortable, lazy and cluttered with false beliefs. As it shrinks, the further away the magic learning and growing zone will feel. The wall gets higher, and harder to climb. This invisible wall that we have built, with the help from some friends and the good old programming. A lifelong project in the making, from shying away from uncertainty, and believing the crap about not being good enough, smart enough or boss enough. What a hoax! We are all expansion and flowering material. We are all fabulous amazing beings, able to break free from any imaginary zone. If we choose to stay strapped to our comfort, we will never find our true potentials, and never experience what we’re capable of achieving. Any learning happens outside that zone. Whenever you start anything new, like a hobby, learn a new language, take up a new sport, or start a new job, you are operating outside your safety zone.
Becoming more of who you really, truthfully are, requires stretching and bending. Limits must be pushed. Comfortable has to step aside for uncomfortable. Uneasy has to do for a while, and the safety net will have to go. This is not about jumping off a cliff, or doing something far from your interest or calling, on the contrary, it is about moving closer to your passions and your purpose. Although stepping somewhat out of character now and then will build some muscle, this is about stretching to grow more into who you already are. Like polishing that diamond, and learning your most hidden potentials. Stretching is most often not extreme, it is more like a widening of the horizon. The comfort zone will grow in the process.
“Expand your zone so that you can spread your wings.” – Hilde Larsen
8 side effects of zone-free living:
1. You will realize that fear is overrated. The most common statement that follows having done something scary and seemingly risky, is; “Had I known it was going to be this easy or go so well, I would have done it years ago.” The fear itself is often what we are most afraid of. The false belief that fear is something we should run from will also change, as you realize that the world did not come to an end, and nobody died.
2. You will grow beyond belief. Nothing is more empowering than conquering some longs standing obstacles. Be it the resistance to take the leap towards starting a health regime, moving house or starting your own business. Maybe you want to sell everything you own, to start a life journey of travelling the world, or you simply want to ask someone that you really like, out on a date. It does not matter, you will grow, and your horizon will broaden. The first step is always the hardest one, but it will promote the hunger for more. As your comfort zone grows, or as you let go of the zone all together, growth becomes constant. A seed has been panted. Now, all you’ve got to do is water and nourish it.
3. You will become your own boss. The position was always ours, although we so easily give it away, or try to give it away. We talk about taking back our power, as if it was ever gone. I don’t believe it ever was. It sure does feel like it is taken back, but it was always there, although hidden or suppressed. It becomes easy to hide behind someone else’s flaws and shortcomings, when we feel small and inferior in our own lives. Ultimately, you have always been the one that you have been waiting for. You have always been what you have been searching for, but now it will become even clearer to you, and feel more How empowering and inspiring!
4. You will get more enthusiastic and lose the regrets. There are several sayings in this direction of thought. “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”, or “It is better to have tried and failed, than to regret not trying.” I strongly believe in this to be very true. The enthusiasm that arises from stepping onto new ground, while realizing that your life is better for it, is contagious. It will easily encourage you to stretch more, and to get to know yourself even better. We will never regret having tried, once we see the benefits that it will give us.
5. Discomfort becomes a path to success. The whole concept of comfort changes. Why is it that for some, comfort is the absolute hiding place, yet for others, it is the plague they fear more than anything? There are base jumpers and extreme sport enthusiasts that put their lives on the line every single day. They shy away from what feels like confinement and lack of true feelings. They chase the high from living on the edge. Like a drug, they crave the adrenaline rush that they experience from stretching to their limit. They literally get high. This is the other side of the pendulum, the extreme hunger for more, never seeming to get satisfied. It can become an addiction. While the term discomfort has different meanings for different people, in the light of comfort zones, we know going outside can feel painful. Therefore, the training and practicing of stretching, will condition us to recognize even discomfort as something valuable.
6. You will feel less anxiety and stress. How can doing something that might push you into anxiety and stress, help you? I was almost paralyzed by anxiety for several years. From being physically debilitated, I suffered greatly on every level. Physical, mental and emotional are all one, connected through our energetics, organs and glands. By walking through your fire, you will break free from the hold that any anxiety has on you. By stepping outside your zone, you will feel empowered to take care of your health on every level. It will benefit the rest of your life. No stressful live is ever a healthy one.
7. You will inspire others. People are always looking for guidance and direction. By living your truth and growing as a person, you will become a powerful inspiration to those around you. We tend to look towards those who have done what we seek to achieve. Your life will be fulfilled with a new joy from influencing others to also take a leap of faith. To be able to be a way-shower and a mentor. One of the greatest blessings of my life is to be able to inspire others.
8. You will need no one’s approval ever again. You will be done searching for validation. What a relief! You have experienced firsthand that it is all up to you. Not to do alone, but to take charge of You know that you are enough, that you can try anything without being afraid of failure. You know that success and magic happens outside the comfort zone. Your zone just took a hike, as you stepped up and claimed your seat. You are limitless and your everyday life will reflect on that.
“If you ever want to experience and achieve anything out of the ordinary, that will reflect your true potentials, step outside the zone.” – Hilde Larsen
Incorporate a zone-free life where stretching is a part of your growth and bullshit-free living. Play in all areas of your possibilities, and let no anxiety, or perceived zone of the masses, hold you back from your amazingness and extraordinaire. Once the illusion that you have anything to fear by feeling a bit uncomfortable or anxious at times is gone, you are truly free to live. Our lives are not confined by any rules that hold back our creative and passionate exploration. They are all illusionary and false. Take back your boldness and step onto your stage.
To expand through your everyday living, start by changing some of your routines. Break a habit, and look for other, and maybe even better ways to do things. If you are usually sedentary, move more. Get away from the computer or the TV, and find some activities to get you moving. If you are very active, always in motion running around, unwind, take a load of. Relax and be more still. Take some “me” time. If you are shy, get out more, and if you don’t like to be alone, practice. Read more books. Reading what others are saying and have experienced can be uplifting and inspiring. Knowledge is power, and by knowing better we can do better. Go out dancing and shake it up. Be more childish, and tell more jokes. The next time you go to a restaurant, try something you have never had before. Help someone in need, or volunteer at a shelter or a soup kitchen. Count your blessings and serve at the same time.
Sing a little louder, walk longer, aim higher and dance more often. Smile wider, laugh louder, invest more truthfully and love unconditionally. Step out of any false belief that you are less than magnificent, and stay humble for the opportunities that unfold in front of you. We often care too much, about outcomes, about others, and about our own lack of ability. Care a little less about the things that matter the least. Nothing is standing between you and your ability to just not give a damn.
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About the author:
Norwegian born, Hilde Larsen is the owner and founder of InspiredByHilde.com. She is a certified Health and Success Coach, a raw food teacher, an author and a certified Detox Specialist.
Her glowing enthusiasm for health and vitality has the leading role in her work. She is an inspirational media speaker, a blogger, and has her own YouTube channel. She creates online video programs, and is publishing a series of books on health and natural living.
Hilde’s interest in healing and spiritual growth also led her to become a Reiki Healer. She is highly intuitive, and has a strong connection to Mother Earth and the spiritual world. Author of the book ‘From HELL to Inspired’ Hilde shares her full story. a heartfelt gripping journey about her struggles from bedridden to living her dreams. Her second book ‘Know the Truth and Get Healthy’, is a step-by-step guide to true health and vitality.
Hilde and her husband of 28 years spend their time between Norway and Florida.