A Life Outside Of Your Comfort Zone: The Benefits Of Conquering Your Fears

A few years ago, I was on a mission to snatch my waist and increase my muscle mass, so I sought the help of a close friend and personal trainer(sup Necyé!?). One day, we met up at a local Planet Fitness to start the endurance-building regimen he created for me.

We started with a simple task: jump over a bench. Necyé demonstrated a few times to show how effortlessly easy it was, but for some reason, when it was my turn, I froze in place. The task wasn’t necessarily difficult, but I was intimidated by the idea of failure.

I kept thinking of all the things that could go wrong:

  • What if I trip?
  • What if I fall? Omg I would be so embarrassed…
  • The bench may be higher than it looks, what if I can’t jump that high!?

No matter how many methods of encouragement my friend used (affirmations, demonstrations, straight-up telling me to do it), my legs would not move. There I stood, frozen in place by my own fear and self-doubt, trying to figure out a way to psych myself into it. I even got my feet to move a couple of times, but they refused to jump. I was literally shocked and bewildered at how little courage I had to do something so small; I know I must’ve looked so stupid.

Suddenly, with minutes left of our hour session, I felt my defenses come down. I ran and jumped over the bench without warning, relieved when I felt my feet plant perfectly on the other side. As silly as it may have seemed, that literal leap took courage, and afterward, I was grateful that I shook my fear and overcame my comfort.

When’s the last time you lived life outside of your comfort zone?

Comfort Zones: How They Relate To Fear

According to Merriam-webster, the literal definition of a comfort zone is “the level at which one functions with ease and familiarity.”; You know that voice encouraging you to cancel plans whenever you’re asked to try something new? That’s your comfort zone. I know it’s comfortable to settle in a space where everything is easy, and you’re in control, but this fear of the unknown is holding you back from your life’s potential.

Although fears can stem from evolutionary instinct and have roots in past experiences, nine times out of ten, our fears are illusions, creations of self-doubt, and lack of understanding. Conquering your fears and stepping outside of your comfort zone makes you realize how much bigger life is. I know every time I step outside of mine, I come out relieved.

For example, one of my biggest fears is social interaction. You wouldn’t think so with my cheerfulness and sunny personality, but speaking to strangers is intimidating. This is based on my traumas from bullying, lack of acceptance, and the scarring of toxic relationships. My social anxieties caused me to be over apologetic and disconnected. I was definitely the type to make excuses to avoid hanging out with people. (::thinking:: YES! I’ve got a fever! Now I HAVE to stay home!)

However, these behaviors are counterproductive to my career as a freelance writer. Networking and relationship building are CRUCIAL in the freelance world, so I had to figure out a way to be more social. It was scary as hell at first; my first couple of attempts were jumbled messes of me speaking loud, fast, and fumbling over my words. With practice, I learned to talk calmly with confidence and self-control.

Taking Steps To Overcome

These are some tactics I use to face a scary situation. Maybe they can help you, too:

  • I breathe it out– My experience with yoga taught me how significant breathing is. Breathing helps you through the most difficult yoga poses and calms your mind in scary situations. If deep breathing can help you through anger, stress, and pain, why not through fear? Give it a try the next time you’re tackling something scary.
  • I build up the courage– I build up my mental strength before doing something courageous, whether I’m burning sage in my living room, journaling, or talking to myself in the mirror. Although having encouragement can be helpful, no one can convince YOU like YOU can. Try talking yourself up before stepping outside of your comfort zone. You’d be surprised by how far a few “You can do it!”‘s will get you.
  • I take baby steps– I can’t say that I always go 0 – 100 in scary situations, especially if the fear is tied to a traumatic experience. In cases like this, I micro-dose and build my way up. If you fear open water, for example, try exposing yourself to small bodies of water first and then build on top of that until one day you’re comfortable enough to step into the ocean.

*Remember: Although your fear may seem trivial or juvenile to someone else, it’s not ok for anyone to make you feel belittled or invalid. A lot of people take the tough love approach, which can make your fears worse. What you need is patience, understanding, and support in overcoming things at your own pace.

I base a lot of my life goals around stepping outside of my comfort zone, not just for my career but for personal growth.

The Benefits of Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Living a life outside of your comfort zone comes with psychological benefits like feelings of empowerment and personal growth.

Let’s dive deeper into these concepts.

Empowerment

Stepping outside of your comfort makes you feel powerful. The boost in bravery comes from the liberating feeling of staring fear in the face and walking away unscathed.

When you step outside of your comfort zone, you realize how much control you have over your life, and that type of mental strength can move mountains. Silentmindsingingbowls.com has a quote about this on their blog post “The Amazing Benefits of Facing Your Fears”: “When we come to personally understand that we can change our own brains, it’s incredibly empowering. We can make ourselves calmer, more creative, anything we want.”

Once you’ve hardwired your brain to be less afraid, you feel like you can do anything.

Personal Growth

Challenging your fear builds character. I know a lot of people who suffer from low self-esteem due in large part to self-doubt. It doesn’t help when you’re surrounded by *people feeding into that.

But once you start tip-toeing on your boundaries of comfort, you’ll blur the lines of your capabilities. Before you know it, you’ll be achieving new heights of personal growth. With your new and improved fierce skin, gone are the days when fear is holding you back, allowing you to open doors you swore were closed off to you.

*Beware: People who have been limited by fear their entire lives will try to project those feelings onto you. They’ll convince you that you’re incapable of stepping outside of your comfort zone and that what you’re trying to achieve is impossible because this is their reality.

Look, I know facing your fears and challenging your comfort can seem scary, maybe even a long shot. But I’m living, breathing proof that not only is it possible, but there are enormous benefits. Ask yourself: are you limiting your personal life, growth, and dreams because of your fears? How much longer will you allow your fears to keep you from living?

Stop getting in the way of yourself. Try something brave today.

Conquer all the fears.

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