The path is scary!
The image above shows a well-lit group of foliage, it is bright welcoming and makes you feel comfortable and safe; nothing is hidden. But the dense trees farther along the path are shadowy and intimidating. What is in there? Using this as an analogy for life, we humans tend to avoid the unknown. Those who dive in head first are considered daredevils or reckless. If you look a little closer to the yearning in your heart, you DO want to go there. You do want that adventure and take that journey so you can feel the winds of freedom blow through your hair.
The unknown path presents itself with possibilities that you cannot control or do not understand. As you approach a new situation, your gut may start clenching while internal alarm bells ring so loudly you cannot think. You may stop dead in your tracks! You also know that that one small stride forward can take you someplace incredible and refusal will leave you with regret.
Complexity of comfort
Comfort is a strange thing. It can promote prosperity and also strangle our goals and dreams. Having a set routine feels safe, however, it can equally take on the nature of prison walls. We love the comfort of our predictable lives, and yet we are hungry to jump into the unknown, that adventure, that thing that makes our soul leap into new heights of excitement and ecstasy. “I want more! But I don’t want to leave my couch! It is scary out there!”
The walls of our comfort zone are strong and tall. We cannot see past them because we have made them that way. Yes, we create our comfort zones, no one else does this to us. It is not a bad thing; it is entirely reasonable and healthy… unless we want out.
I am not going to pump you up to a frenzy of placating cheers and tell you that you can do whatever it is you want, (though that is true in some sense.) Responsibility and family are complex obstacles to negotiate when you are trying to connect the dots between what you want and what you need to do. There is a precarious balance to maintain; it is not an effortless process. It looks simple when someone else is taking that leap of faith yet we tremble at that first step towards that dark, unknowable forest. Even one step outside of safety is petrifying.
Try this simple exercise:
There is a way around your wall. It is simple but not easy. As you work through the steps reassure yourself that you are only working on these things in your mind, you are not executing any action. You are looking at the trail map, not taking the hike.
Grab a piece of paper and write down at the top center one thing you want to do but feel you cannot.
Underneath draw a line down the center of the page, so you have two columns.
Label the left-hand column Bricks. Do not label the right-hand column.
In the Bricks column write down or draw all the things that prevent you from doing your thing listed at the top of the page. These are all the items that are also holding you back, and you see as part of your comfort zone. These are the building blocks of your comfort wall, the bricks.
Pick ONE thing from the Brick column. It does not matter which one. Maybe go easy on yourself and pick one that is minimally challenging for you. Circle it.
Consider the circled item. (pick one of the following questions, but you can do this exercise more than once if you want to do all of them.) Put your answers in the right-hand column.
- Write or draw what your life would look like if that brick were not part of your comfort wall.
- What can you do differently that would change that brick into something that would be helpful?
- What are the emotions attached to that brick?
- How does that brick keep you in your comfort zone?
Taking it further
Is there a theme in your right-hand column? If yes write that as the title. What does it tell you?
For the adventurous
If you are feeling brave; try this action step. Is there one step you can take today that would start the process of removing this brick from your comfort zone?
Tell me about your bricks! Comment below or send me an email at Tanya@zencatlife.com.
Here is to one less brick in that comfort wall! Woo hoo!