The Life Cafe

Life Outside the Comfort Zone


I am afraid of the fact that I have no clue what my life is going to look like in a year. And I am terrified of what it is going to feel like. Will I make it taking the proper way, the difficult way, the more interesting, creative and fulfilling way? What will it mean if I don’t? For me, for others. Why do I risk it? Should I take the easy way? It seems like everybody does. Why should I be any different? It might be better in the long run. Although deep in me I really know I’d just go numb and die inside.

Fear is the only proper thing to feel

Do these questions sound familiar? It’s a scary thought when I think of it and it never fails to send shivers down my spine. But then again, I would be absolutely terrified had it been the other way around. The thought of knowing is comforting only for a moment. Until it dawns on you. When you see that knowing means no new experience, no growth, no living-out, just living-through, living-until.

If you are afraid of how you are going to get through the next day, it means you are living in an uncertain world, an uncertain life. It means you are living outside your comfort zone. And it’s only obvious to feel anxious, scared, and on the edge while you’re walking on that rim with wind blowing at you from all directions. It is obvious because that means you are a human being, allowing yourself to be. It means you are a person that knows what fear is. And walking on the rim is a scary thing.

Seeing the future destroys it

But that also means you decided to take yourself out of your comfort zone. Both your inner and your outer world. You decided to go into the unknown and the unknown always feels terrifying. Snoozing in you comfort zone is like digging yourself a hole and deciding to live your life in it. You only see the firm walls around you. It’s small, but at least you feel comforted by seeing what surrounds you.

You feel more certain and that’s calming. You do have a sense of what’s outside, because you obviously see the sky above you. But that’s all you see. You don’t get to see the vast horizon. To be honest, you can’t even tell what’s going on two steps away from you.

That’s what your comfort zone is like. A small world you decided for yourself, just to have the comfort of calmness and predictability. No wonder you’re scared when you decide to leave it and get out. You are now willingly exchanging the lifelessness of predictability with living-out your life.

You are not a robot performing and ticking-off the chores of your morning agenda just to get to the next day. You are not picking your kids up after school just to do it again the next day; until you go for a vacation, come back, and then do it all over again. And that’s not an excuse for succumbing to predictability either.

Swimming is opposite of drowning

Unless you hold your breath. Can you do that? Remember, there is no inhale without an exhale. I love swimming. And, as a swimmer, you can hardly make a bigger mistake but not exhale properly. You will not be able to catch the next breath in time.

It’s similar being in this world. You have to let go of something in order to grab on to something new. You only have two hands and one life to do it with. If you are afraid to let go of the coziness, that’s OK. But don’t deprive yourself of the courage to do it.

Where is your life if no future exists?

I once worked with a client that wanted to get rid of her anxiety. She wanted to get rid of her constant thinking about what comes next. Her constant attempt and struggle to control her world. She was going through the days contemplating about the next thing to come. The meeting after; the doctor’s appointment after; the lunch; the groceries. Talking to her friends, having dinner, walking her dog with her girlfriend — she was never there.

No present, just future. And, since the future doesn’t exist, where was she, really? Her only moments of being in the present were in the therapy room. That was the light at the end of the tunnel. And it soon became her sunlight.

So, even if you don’t want to do it for yourself. How to feel comfortable with uncomfortable life outside your comfort zone is the best thing you can teach your children. You’ll be teaching them to live where life really happens and not where life only passes.

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