Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone
There is a ‘fiend’ in the automatic part of your brain — in your subconscious mind — that does not want you to change, that does not want you to be a success, that does not want you to seize the day, to make it happen.
“If you know what to do to reach your goal, it’s not a big enough goal.” - Bob Proctor
That devious ‘demon’ is called the amygdala. Its primary function is to recognise anything that is related to stress, danger, fear and anxiety. Its function is to keep you where it considers safe; and to keep you safe, it keeps you the same.
The amygdala is not your success and achievement partner
When you step out of your comfort zone to make things happen, your amygdala senses that stress or tension and it instructs the release of hormones and adrenalin that will bring in more fear and anxiety; it releases sufficient amount to bring you back into your comfort zone.
It will keep you from making things happen.
Why are you afraid to step out of your comfort zone to seize the day and make things happen?
For that’s where the glory and splendour are, that’s where the rewards and triumph lay.
That’s where success is.
Being in your comfort zone, you simply do a good job; you do just about what it takes and no more. You will not achieve much. However, if you move out of that zone and you do an excellent job, you will achieve much more.
That’s where the rewards and successes lay in wait for you.
Anthony Robbins has said this many times: “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”
Step out of our comfort zone to experience new growth
You must get to a point where you don’t feel uncomfortable when you step out of that comfort zone of yours. You must not allow the amygdala to release hormones and adrenalin that cause added fear and stress.
The way to stretch, to develop and grow is to expand your comfort zone, little by little. And as you do so, the amygdala will not recognise fear, anxiety and stress as much and will not release the hormones that are designed to keep you safe, to keep you where you are.
When you move out of your comfort zone over and over, and you repeat it enough times, your action will become a habit, it will be automatic.
And when it becomes automatic for you, it becomes a ‘normal action’ that you can regularly perform, so you won’t feel any stress, anxiety or fear anymore. Your amygdala will not release any hormones as it would normally.
Since you want to be a success, you will want to grow and change, and to do so you are going to have to consistently step out of your comfort zone — even by taking small steps at the beginning.
The more you step out and the more you feel uncomfortable, the more you will achieve: your amygdala will not be able to force you to stay within your small comfort zone anymore.
As you grow further, you will want to step out of your ‘new’ comfort zone and contend with the amygdala again. It’s the rinse and repeat strategy. It’s truly worth it if you want to be a success.
Well worth it if you want to live your dream life.
When you step out of your borderline, you may feel scared or apprehensive. That’s fine. That’s the only way you can grow. If you remain in your current comfort zone, you will do nothing but limit yourself from ever achieving anything worthy or living your dream life, or being successful in your field.
Your comfort zone is a very powerful, limiting area.
When you attempt to step out of your constricting comfort zone, sense your fears and worries. Feel your moist and sweaty palms, hear your heart pounding against your chest, sense that sick stomach feeling, and then say, “I’m ready.”
Then go out there and take action, seize the moment and the day. Meet head-on your fears, worries and challenges. Confront them all by continuing with the action.
Do not stop.
When done, congratulate yourself and think what you achieved. More than likely, one of the thoughts that could be circulating within your mind is: That was not as bad as I thought.
That’s what Bruce Springsteen does before he goes on to stage. He gets sweaty hands, he feels his heart pounding, and when his intensity surges, he says, “I’m ready,” and he goes on stage feeling pumped and ready to give one of his best performances.
That’s how you must take on life’s challenges.
That’s how you can grow and be the success that you want.
Do not allow your comfort zone to keep you where you are.
Do not stay locked in, feeling complacent and safe. The world is evolving all around you. Life is ever-expanding. If you don’t expand with it, life will leave you behind.
Think of life as a computer. If you keep using the same aged computer, you will miss on the added advancements of the later ones; advancement in technology will leave you behind. How far will you get on your 2017 computer? Wouldn’t you get much further if you used a 2021 or 2022 computer?
Playing it safe, and staying in your comfort zone, is not an option.
Step out and create more success in your life.
Take calculated risks, grow, and educate yourself more. You must learn to grow and continue to learn to grow; make it one of your goals to stretch the boundaries or limitations of your current comfort zone, or you may remain stuck where you are.
So the answer to the question, “Why aren’t you already successful,” is obvious: you decided to stay with the compounds of your comfort zone.
Do not suffer the consequences of not breaking out. Knock down the fence and enjoy the success that encompasses the outer world.
As your comfort zone expands, you will grow, and you will never be the same.
The bigger the perimeter, the more capable you become and the more success you will achieve.
In her best-seller, Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers says: ‘All you have to do to diminish your fear is to develop more trust in your ability to handle whatever comes your way!’
If you make it a habit to daily or regularly take a single small step outside your comfort zone, you will achieve many things in your life over time.
By daily stepping out of your comfort zone and networking more often, you will dramatically increase your self-confidence, by making it a ritual to make an extra cold call a day, you will feel better about yourself (your self-image), and others will see you better (your self-esteem), and your self-confidence will rise and soar within a short while.
As you step out of your comfort zone, and you gradually enlarge or stretch it, you will achieve more, become more, and even have more. Stepping outside is exciting, exhilarating and that’s where you will see and become a member of the great achievers.
Step out of your comfort zone and take action
When you have a goal you want to achieve, a part of you automatically slams the brakes. Negative thoughts creep in as to why you cannot go after your goal: it takes too much effort, you’re not confident enough, it’s way out of your reach.
These negative thoughts have only one recommendation: stop.
Your comfort zone and your negative beliefs work in unison. They are usually quiet in the background of your mind.
When you come up with ideas of what you want in life, what dreams you have, your comfort zone stirs a little, but as long as your dreams remain mere ideas or wishes, your comfort zone lingers silently.
However, as soon as you start taking action towards those ideas, your dreams, your comfort zone jumps into overdrive.
It brings forward all the negative reasons why you cannot take action in the direction of your ideas and dreams. It reminds you very powerfully that you lack self-confidence, you’re a procrastinator, it takes too much effort, you don’t have the skills or knowledge, what if you fail, what if you get rejected.
Your comfort zone brings up all the reasons why you absolutely cannot go after your dreams.
It can be tough and intimidating. It reminds you of your past experiences, the times when people possibly laughed at you, when you were scared and couldn’t cope, when you lacked self-confidence so much that you shied away from many big opportunities that came your way.
Your comfort zone is a powerful dream crusher. When it springs into full action, it becomes a tough gatekeeper.
The only way to silence it is to face it, challenge it, take any necessary action and beat it. Face all the fears: the fear of failure, the fear of rejection, the fear of no self-confidence, and, surprisingly, the fear of success.
We heard this before: feel the fear and do it anyway. By stepping out of your comfort zone, one step at a time, you will gradually gain more self-confidence, your fears will decrease, and you will find it easier and easier to take action.
The grasp that the fears have on you will reduce as you challenge them. And as success breeds success, you will find that you approach your ideas and dreams in a more confident way, a way where your action steps face a weaker barrier, where your comfort zone has grown bigger.
Its limitations and restrictions will have been reduced allowing you to achieve more. Make it a point to step out of your comfort zone, stretch it, make it bigger and achieve more.
Dare to go forward?
Dare to go forward? Interesting use of the word ‘dare.’ Why would you not just get up and go forward. Why is it a dare? Why is it a dare to go forward in life; to be a success?
It’s a dare because going forward in life, perhaps into the unknown, is a challenge; it’s a challenge to do something you’ve never done before. That challenge requires self-confidence and courage.
Yet there is a powerful force that is lurking in the background that is preventing you from going forward.
To go forward you will have to face that force. The question is: do you dare to face it? But first, what is that force?
The force that you will have to face is fear.
As you are ready to take the first few steps to success, fear holds you back. Fear is the force that will prevent you from stepping up to the next level of success in any area of your life.
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” - Joseph Campbell
Fear is a very powerful emotion. The irony is if you run away from fear, you give it more strength and power. If you deny fear, you will remain stuck where you are.
Keeping that fear unchallenged and unresolved is not a way to success.
You will not go forward to create the success of your dreams if you live your life through fear.
Here are four examples of actions that are based on fear:
- Fear keeps you in an unhappy and unhealthy relationship. You fear living alone, and that you can’t have what you truly desire to have in a partner.
- You fear commitment. You’ve been hurt in the past, and do not want to repeat that again, so you avoid committing to a partner and even friends.
- You fear looking deep into specific unresolved emotions, so you deny the fears and hide behind unhealthy behaviours, such as addictions.
- Fear will hold you back from being a leader, a manager or even starting your own business, because you are coming from a place of ‘no power.’ You fear being weak, being unheard, feeling useless, being hurt or being on your own.
“I have insecurities. But whatever I’m insecure about, I don’t dissect it, but I’ll go after it and say, ‘What am I afraid of?’ I bet the average successful person can tell you they’ve failed so much more than they’ve had success. I’ve had far more failures than I’ve had successes. With every commercial I’ve gotten, there were 200 I didn’t get. You have to go after what you’re afraid of.” – Kevin Sorbo
Truth is fear will always be present in your life. That could be a good thing or a restricting thing. Good because it could stop you from doing dangerous things, such as jumping off the roof of a building, or crossing the highway in between fast passing cars.
It’s restricting because it holds you back from taking specific actions that could bring about success for you. For example, a fear of a situation such as starting a new job in a new company, or locking you in fear-based thinking such as fearing being ridiculed, or fearing rejection.
Did you know that more than ninety per cent of your fears and worries never happen? Allow that to sink in for a moment. Yet the unpleasant and sad thing is you are living your life through your fear-based thinking.
What causes fear?
Before we dive deep into what causes this fear emotion to surface when you decide to step up to create the success life that you desire, do any of these ‘what if’ phrases sound familiar to you:
What will people think of me?
What if I can’t handle the pressure?
What if things go wrong?
What if I fail?
What if people laugh at me?
What if I make a mistake?
What if he/she says no to me?
Those were just a handful of ‘what ifs’ that paralyse you from taking action in the direction of your desires. More than likely, you’ve said one or two of them in your lifetime.
The number one way you sabotage your dream of success is by saying things like, or something close to, the above.
Fear contains emotions such as:
If you want to live your life in another way, read on.
Let’s talk about what causes fear; how did that come about if the first place. Fear is a reaction to a painful situation that you experienced sometime in the past, and your subconscious mind feels that the same painful situation will happen again.
So what does your subconscious mind do? It alerts you when similar, perhaps harmless, situations are about to take place. It feels that it is protecting you from danger. Remember the amygdala?
Your subconscious mind is much like a computer: whatever programme you feed it, it relays and lives by. It does not understand time; the past and the future are one and the same.
Your subconscious mind does not understand the painful situation that happened to you all those years ago, and that things are different now. It does not think logically, much like your computer or Smartphone does not think logically or rationally. It acts based on the programmes that it has installed from the day you were born.
Also remember that your beliefs and belief system reside in your subconscious mind. When you have a belief that you cannot face a particular fear, you will be weak and unable to confront it even if it was for your better good.
This way you allow your programmed subconscious mind to run your life. The fear that came about many years ago is still in control of your current life, and it will continue to do so until you face it, challenge it and let it go.
Fear is a learned emotion. Therefore, it can be unlearned
Fear is an emotional reaction when approaching a seemingly dangerous situation; when stepping out of your comfort zone. Fear is one of the most important hurdles or obstructions that stand in the way of success; it blocks change and transformation, it prevents success.
Many view fear as an enemy. It could be wise if you view fear as a messenger; a courier that makes you consciously aware of your barriers, so you may listen and amend your actions: so you may confront that fear.
Here is a five-step process to understanding the source of a fear and then overcoming it:
1. Write down what you think is the original event that caused a particular fear. Take as much time as is necessary to reflect. You can find its origins if you patiently look for it. If it does not immediately come to you, relax. Your subconscious mind will bring it to your conscious awareness when it’s ready.
2. How did you feel when that situation or event took place? Write down your emotions.
3. Write down the situations or circumstances you now react to in just the same way as the original event?
4. What is the correlation or link between the original event and the fear you now feel?
5. Now make a conscious preference of how you will react as of this moment. It’s normal to feel a certain level of resistance as we spoke earlier. This resistance will permit you to ‘kill’ the source of your fear.
Fear is only a discomfort
Learn from your fear. Treat it as a friend; one who lets you know where the stop signs are, and gives you the chance to press the accelerator pedal and move through the roadblock.
Think of fear as a discomfort; an emotion you sense when you step outside your comfort zone.
“Oh yes, the past can hurt. But, you can either run from it or, learn from it.” - the movie The Lion King
Recognise that fear is simply a discomfort for stepping out of your comfort zone; stepping out of the area you are familiar with. Make it a point not to misdiagnose that discomfort as a fear: diagnose it as a discomfort, one that you can go through.
There are two main fears are: fear of failure or success and fear of rejection. The fear of failure is the greatest obstacle to success. Any success. The words, “I can’t” are words of fear of failure. The thing is, you don’t only feel the fear in your mind, you feel it all over your body. You sweat, you have the shakes, your knees go weak, you have ‘butterflies in your stomach.’
Many people also fear success. They are scared that when they become successful, their entire life would change and that can be a bad thing: they could lose their friends either along the way to success or when they become successful. Some fear that success means they will have to pay more taxes, and they view that as a ‘bad thing.’
The second major fear is the fear of rejection. More than ninety-nine per cent of us experience the fear of failure and the fear of rejection. We are caught in the trap of: “I can’t, but I have to.” The “I can’t” being the fear of failure, and the “I have to” the fear of rejection.
In order to overcome the fear of failure, go back to the original event that caused a specific fear. Find out what triggered it. Were you unprepared? Were you thinking of your past failures? Were you scared you’d be ridiculed? What is causing you to fear failure?
Now prepare to re-script your fear. Write down what you have learned from that fear and how you can make full use of it as of now, in the present. Go through all your fears, and come up with some fear-shattering, fear smashing thoughts.
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” — George Bernard Shaw
Understand the reason for the fears and release them from your subconscious mind. Release your fears by re-programming the subconscious with new positive ideas.
One way of looking at fear in this respect is:
F. E. A. R. is an acronym for Feel Emotions and Release.
Keep a daily journal. Record your fears as they crop up and as you become aware of them. Find out their origins and then re-script the initial events. Upon completion of each re-script, celebrate. Reward yourself for successfully having re-scripted an original fear, thereby eliminating it from your life.
Should you let fear stop you from achieving your dreams, of being a success?
Look at fear from a different perspective. After all, what is fear? Remember, fear is an emotion, that’s all. Fear is an emotion that you learned as you grew older.
You were not born with fear.
There are only two types of fear you were born with. Do you recall what they are? They are the fear of loud noises and fear of falling.
Failure is an important part of success. Does this surprise you? It shouldn’t. The best example of that are children. They learned to walk, didn’t they? How many times did they ‘fail’ or fall? And yet, how many times did they try again? Did they, or did you, quit and give up simply because you fell, or failed to walk, many times? No. You kept on trying and falling again and again until you succeeded.
Another way of looking at fear is:
F. E. A. R. is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. See F. E. A. R. as false evidence appearing real, feel the emotions of that fear and release it through your fear-smashing thoughts. Fear can be defeated. But it cannot be eliminated. In fact, we wouldn’t want to completely eliminate fear from our lives.
Fear serves us in many ways: it stops us and prevents us from doing stupid things. So, as we stated before, use fear to your advantage. Allow it to keep you safe from doing stupid things, yet also allow it to ‘red flag’ the things that stop you from the success that you want.
Keep in mind that fear is a learned response: a learned emotion. We were born only with two fears. Every other conceivable fear has been learned from a number of situations or conditions.
“Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it — that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear.” — Dale Carnegie
How many times have you said things like:
“I’d like to learn accounting to advance in my job, someday.”
“I ought to someday learn Spanish I suppose since I’m going to relocate there next year.”
“I really should start to stretch my comfort zone, someday.”
You have to be very careful. You have to refrain from putting your life on hold. That ‘someday’ of yours is a form of procrastination brought about by fear or a limiting belief.
You see, if you’re not careful enough, your ‘someday’ may never come.
You may run out of time, and then you blatantly blame your lack of success on everything and anything under the sun.
Everything but you.
You cannot blame your lack of success or achievement on others if your ‘someday’ never came.
NOW is the key word to success.
DARE is the key word to go forward.
Many a dream will never happen if you adopt the ‘someday’ attitude or philosophy. The time for you to become the success that you have always wanted is right here, right now. If you choose to.
An amazing life is within your reach. If you don’t do anything about it, you will never experience its glory.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” — Henry David Thoreau
Change your brain change your life — take charge of your life
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Hani A Al-Qasem is a personal development educator who specialises in the life and success mindset.
Having devoted over 17 years to the study of human potential and personal development, he is committed to inspire, support and motivate people to create a better and more optimistic world for us all to live in.
Hani A Al-Qasem believes that together, as human beings with a conscience, we can share our expertise, our strengths, our passion, our gift to create awareness that there is another way to make things happen. Instead of ‘changing the TV channel’ because we can’t bear to watch the harshness of life around us, we can take combined action to transform lives.
We cannot change the circumstances that brought people to where they are, but we can change their thinking, from within, to improve the quality of their present and future lives.
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