I was standing outside in the evening heat and humidity, thinking about how the moisture was rising, trying to find some comfort.
Lost in this thought, I said to myself, “I’ve been here for quite a few years. I’m getting used to it now!”, giving myself a mental affirmation to overcome the heat and humidity that was building up.
Standing there, it struck me how similar that is to the way that most people live their lives. They stay in the same environment their whole life, convincing themselves, with a variety of reasons and excuses, why staying where they are is the right thing to do; that it’s the best thing to do. And I was thinking exactly the same thing about myself.
The Comfort Zone
For most of us it’s because of COMFORT – we’ve got comfortable where we are. We’ve settled into our comfort zone.
We are comfort-able; we are happy and content to do what we have done before, are used to and are easily able to do.
We’ll do a job, go home, a few of us will go to the gym…. But it’s all the same – we’ve got used to that lifestyle.
It’s like doing press-ups. If you do the same amount every time, and not push for that “one more”, your body will get used to the amount you do. Our heart and muscles will get used to that pace and amount, but no more. To get better and do more you have to go further, beyond your comfort zone. It doesn’t have to be a drastic change, but, small changes build up.
Try to do one more correct-form press-up each time. If you can do 20 press-ups, try single-arm press-ups.
If you stay at the same level, never pushing yourself, you’ll never get better, you’ll never improve.
Imagine someone who’s been in the same job for years, that they don’t want to be in. They tolerate the job, the marriage, the relationship, that part of their life, and the feelings of discontent that this area of their life brings on for their entire life.
Because it’s easier to stay in that comfort zone than face the pain of making the change or the pain of change.
It’s easier to stay in that state of comfort. The environment has become the standard, it’s comfortable and they know what to expect. No surprises, no fears, nothing to worry about because it’s all set. On the most part.
That is until they lose their job because of a financial crisis, illness, a change of circumstances or a major crisis. Then worry, fear, shame about the foreseeable future kick-in and change is inevitable.
Change is inevitable. Growth is optional. – John C. Maxwell
They’ve got used to that feeling of comfort so much, that they have accepted feeling the way they do; it has become the norm. They stay in that bubble created by the comfort zone, accepting what is, rather than acknowledging they can be more and what is possible for them.
One of the reasons is fear of change. It’s because this one thing brings with it other elements. Such as,
- Where is the money going to come from,
- Will I be able to pay my mortgage, my bills, pay for food, running the car,
- The people I’ll be working with, working hours,
- How will it affect my marriage, my relationship,
and the list goes on.
We fear change because of the uncertainty. Most of us that is.
There are those of us who thrive on the excitement of a challenge and something new, if not unexpected. The rest of us are not made up that way.
We all experience fear differently – as anxiety or excitement. Fear mixed in with a negative emotion becomes anxiety. Fear mixed with excitement is that – exciting, elating.
It’s not until we get to the other side of that fear that we see the real possibilities.
Change happens in our lives all the time. We deal with it usually when it comes, because it’s a “normal”. Take a road diversion – we are used to it and deal with it because it happens so often. But do you remember the first time you had to deal with a change? The almost panic and sweat because we didn’t know what to do. So, we follow the diversion, the signs, if there are any.
The more we deal with change the easier it becomes for us to overcome it.
To experience a circumstance before it’s there you practice mentally and, if possible, carry out the actions.
The military conducts exercises to practice actions again and again and again, to get them ingrained into the subconscious, so that when the situation comes up, the action is second nature. The body responds to the physical action that has been practiced and embedded in the subconscious mind.
In the same way you can mentally and physically practice your next interview; how you will behave when a given situation arises, like a dispute with a colleague or a boss; what you will say in your speech – you write it and practice it, say it out loud and change what needs to be changed.
But, most people don’t opt for that change.
Most people put the brakes on any change before it has had a chance to begin. Because of fear.
What most of us lack is the knowledge to be able to make that change. Understanding that there are certain principles and laws that we need to abide by to succeed. Like persistence, action, belief, confidence, courage, consistency and how our mind works.
But, the majority of us are not aware of what is truly possible for us and so we stay where we are. We don’t believe that a better life is a possibility for us. That we can be more, if we choose to be.
And because they don’t, they remain within those constraints, in a self-imposed cage, much the same as a trained animal will not venture outside the limits it has been trained to do.
I was recently reminded of a fact about elephants.
They are the strongest animal in the animal kingdom. But if they are tied to a pole as a calf, with a rope, they will eventually learn not to try and pull away. So, they stay in that small area they have been given.
When that same calf grows to be an adult elephant, the same type of rope will restrain them, even though they could easily pull the pole and break the rope if they tried to break their restraints. But they don’t. They have been trained.
Their mind has convinced them that they cannot break those restraints. And we do the same with ourselves.
Break the Bonds
I’ve given you a bit of an insight. Not even the tip of the iceberg, but, I hope enough to start making you think.
And that is the key word – THINK!
Earl Nightingale said, “We become what we think about all day long“.
We have the ability to think creatively, to visualise, imagine and create. We think consciously and using that we can give instruction to our subconscious mind.
So, you have to start with where you are right now and decide where you want to be.
You need to ask yourself what is it that holds you where you are.
It could be that you are where you want to be, you are fulfilled in your job, career, relationships, finance and leisure time.
But if you’re not, why are you still there?
What’s keeping you back?
Why are you not more of what you can be?
To make a change in your life, you must make a change in how you see things. To change your external circumstances, you must change the way you think.
…if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth – only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair. – CS Lewis
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. – Ecclesiastes 3:1
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