I think we can all relate to wanting to be comfortable. Truthfully, comfort isn't always a negative but it can have ill effects if it takes over as our top priority in life. Here are a couple of things I think keep us stuck in those comfort zones (along with some ideas for how to push ourselves outside of them).
Fear of Failure. It can tie you up into knots and get a person so stuck it seems like nothing will ever change or get any better. I get so lost in fearing I'll let down the people (or horses) around me. Can't we all relate to the feeling of not being enough? I think in moments like that it's important to surround yourself with the truth about who you are. That truth can come from a best friend, or a song, or a quote, whatever it is for you, go back to it and listen to what it says.
Avoidance of Negative Emotions. We need to accept exactly how we are feeling. We've got to stop avoiding it. If its just a hard day, accept that fact. I'm terrible at this. I heard myself say in four different conversations this past week, "I just don't want think about it" or "I'm not talking about that". I'm not saying that we need to sit around and dwell on everything that makes us feel sad. What I am saying though is that pretending we don't feel a certain way doesn't change the negative emotions, it only intensifies them. Accept them, accept its hard for you (whatever it is) and then take the next step.
Refusing to Rest. Let me define rest: taking a break. Resting is not the equivalent of throwing all your responsibilities to the wind. It just means setting some time aside to step back from the busyness of everyday life. We get caught up in doing everything we need to, in accomplishing everything thats on the list, that we never take the time to rest. Therefore, we are perpetually tired, worn out, burnt out, and somehow we still get confused as to why? I think a big reason a lot of us refuse to rest is because we don't feel like we deserve to. Here is my challenge to not only you guys but also to myself: rest and understand that you don't need to earn it.
Okay, but how do these challenges keep us stuck in our comfort zones?
Firstly, fear of failure stops effort in her tracks. When we are so scared of failing that we won't even make an attempt to try, we stay stuck in our comfort zones. So, go ahead and give yourself permission to fail. Once you are giving 110% of effort and failing at something, that's when you know you've pushed yourself way outside of you're comfort zone.
Secondly, avoiding how you are truly feeling may enable you to think you are in control. However, if you are totally in control, than you are probably totally in your comfort zone as well. Let go of controlling every aspect of yourself and accept how actually nervous, angry, or whatever it is, that you are. Once you accept where you are at, then you can start building from there. You can build a ladder that helps you past those comfort-zone walls.
Thirdly, if you're always worn out or burnt out, you'll forget why you even started. A personal example would be, halfway through my Junior year of college, I got so burnt out I could hardly get myself to go ride my own personal horse (something that I thoroughly enjoy doing). Once we become that tired, we will crave comfort. We will want some relief so badly that our priorities regarding our goals, education, and character step aside and allow comfort to take the top spot. The consequence to this is that we end up lacking the strength to stand outside the walls of comfort.
Stepping outside of our comfort zones means letting go of our ideals. Once we let go of our ideals we are free to fail, free to face our negative emotions, and free to finally get the rest we need.
"People who are totally consumed with idealistic principles rarely do anything." - Oswald Chambers.