First published on Huffington Post 10/09/2016
We sit in our comfort zones every day …. pretending that they’re there to support us.
When you strip everything back and bring it down to the bare bones, life is really just a game that we play every day. Our lives pass us by and we have no idea. We continue to do the same things, day after day, while in a dark, hidden corner of our minds we secretly hope that things will change.
We tell ourselves (and others!) all sorts of stories about the things we are going to do – when we get a minute to ourselves – and then we go about our day adding as much ‘stuff’ to it as we can so that there is no time to think about the things we really want. It’s easier – less traumatic – that way.
Why is it that as adults we complicate our lives to the extent that we just ‘have to get away’ or just ‘have to take a break’ for us to survive? It’s almost as if we’ve convinced ourselves that if we just get away we can recover enough to step back into our ‘normal’ life. We don’t ever stop to question where our lives are at, or why we’re so unhappy or under so much stress that we have to take a break before we collapse.
We simply, blindly accept that this is our lot in life – it’s what we do because ‘life wasn’t meant to be easy’.
We’ve been fed the message that ‘someone out there is worse off than we are so we should be grateful’ and we turn this into the reason why where we’re at is OK. The reality is that we’re slowly killing ourselves or, if we’re lucky, pointing ourselves directly on a collision course with chaos simply because we don’t stop to recognise that there is another way. We accept less than we’re comfortable with because it’s the polite thing to do.
Most of us are programmed to exist rather than live our lives, and we find ourselves referring to our existence as our ‘comfort zone’. We spend our lives with our heads down enmeshed in the ‘stuff’ we’ve got going on – we very rarely raise our heads and look around for the possibility that life might have so much more to offer us.
We’re entrenched in playing our game – but most of us don’t realise that we are the ones who make the game. Our social conditioning, and how we receive and internalise the messages we’re given will determine how we set up the rules of our game. For most of us, our game is set up with harsh and critical rules and the game is made so complex that it is almost always impossible for us to win.
We’re totally oblivious that we have the power to obliterate the game by simply making the choice not to play anymore, or to change the rules, or to change the purpose of the game, or even to start playing a completely different game altogether. Our challenge is to stop and realise that our comfort zone (our game) is usually set up in a way that is at odds with what we want from our life.
A lot of people will tell you that to get out of your comfort zone you have to make uncomfortable choices. It’s often said that you should ‘do something uncomfortable every day to help you eliminate your fears, and to experience rapid growth in your life.
What if they’re wrong?
Why should we add more struggle to an already complex day – most of us have had more than enough struggle in our lives without adding any more.
If you don’t want your comfort zone to kill you, here’s three things you can do to start looking at things differently:
- Take a step back and acknowledge that your ‘comfort zone’ isn’t actually all that comfortable. In fact, looking at it with honest and open eyes it’s full of things you aren’t comfortable with – the daily grind, toxic relationships, jobs we hate, situations that clash with our values and the list goes on and on.
- Write a list of all the things you’d love to have in your life – the things we could do, be, see, visit. Prioritise this list in order of importance or significance in your life.
- Take the first item on the list and write down three small steps you can take to have this thing in your life then make a commitment to yourself to take the first step, including scheduling the time you need for the step.
Courage and discipline are words that are bandied around as being the source of great achievements.
When we break our ‘stuff’ down into small chunks that we can tackle one step at a time then it’s much easier for us to set our priorities and take small steps to achieving our outcomes. When we approach things in a simple way and have small, easily achievable tasks, courage and discipline aren’t required anywhere near as often.
Life becomes simple, and more importantly, life becomes about simple steps that make us happy.
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Bronwen Sciortino is a global thought leader who empowers simple connection and the author of ‘Keep It Super Simple – Tips from a Recovering Perfectionist’. Join the conversation by subscribing to the tribe at www.sheiqlife.com; Facebook; Instagram or LinkedIn.