SALT LAKE CITY — We often let fear stop us from living the life we want and creating the relationships we deserve. Our fears make us defensive, controlling, know-it-alls, or insecure, timid, doormats. Fear creates most of our people problems and holds us back from living our true potential.
You know the old saying: “Everything you want is on the other side of your fear/comfort zone.” Well, it’s true, but getting the courage to break free and march into that uncomfortable zone is scary.
In my 15 years as a master life coach, I’ve come to believe there are two core fears that cause most of our issues: the fear of failure (that you might not be good enough) and the fear of loss (that your life won’t be good enough). Getting out of your comfort zone becomes easier when you get those two fears out of your way.
You do this by choosing two beliefs that negate those fears.
1. You choose to see all humans as having the same exact, unchangeable value. This means you cannot fail or be less or more than anyone else, no matter what you do. This takes failure off the table (along with judgment, too).
2. You choose to see the universe as a wise teacher and believe every experience that shows up in your life is the perfect classroom journey for you. This means you can grow and become better with every experience that shows up in your life.
When you practice choosing these beliefs as your truth, you will find it’s easier to take risks and start stepping out of your comfort zone and doing the things that scared you before. Look for opportunities to do things that could make you feel stupid or embarrassed, and do them anyway. In trying these things, you will remove your fear of what other people think of you and discover the power to live your life to the fullest. You will also be happier, healthier and more fulfilled.
Here are 25 ways to be braver and stretch out of your comfort zone:
1. Sign up for a class to learn something new. You will be bad at it at first, and that’s good practice trusting your value isn’t attached to your performance.
2. Put your headphones on and dance in public to your own beat.
3. Try new recipes or order dishes you’ve never tried and usually wouldn’t order at restaurants; it’s time to stretch.
4. Find an opportunity to volunteer and do service somewhere you have never been.
5. Make a prank phone call — not a cruel one, but something funny.
6. Plan a trip to somewhere you have never been.
7. Set a big goal, like running a marathon or hiking a mountain.
8. Take a dance, painting, pottery or wood shop course.
9. Leave positive messages in sidewalk chalk around your neighborhood.
10. Pay for another table's dinner anonymously and just watch their surprise.
11. Walk up to an intimidating person and pay them a compliment.
12. Do something you are scared to do every day. Write these in a journal.
13. Ask for a raise at work.
14. If single, get out there and ask someone on a date. Hand your name and number to a handsome/beautiful stranger with a smile and walk away. It’s not about whether they call you, it’s being brave enough to do it.
15. Order and eat dessert first.
16. Go out and dance in the rain.
17. Jump in a pool with your clothes on, when no one expects it.
18. Put together different outfit combinations that you’ve worn before.
19. Drive home a different route every day this week.
20. Learn a new language.
21. Visit a church of a different religion.
22. Sit next to someone who is very different from you and get to know them.
23. Go for a drive and flip a coin at each intersection to decide which way to go.
24. Get some post-it notes and leave encouraging notes inside books at the library, on the bus, on menus before you hand them back, anywhere people will find them.
25. Sing karaoke.
Stretching out of your comfort zone will be easier and more fun than you think. The things we fear doing are always scarier in our minds than they are in real life. Research shows that new experiences and challenges also rewire your brain and make you smarter, stronger and healthier.
“In the long-term, comfort is bad for your brain," Thomas Oppong, a columnist at Inc. Magazine said. "Without mental stimulation dendrites, connections between brain neurons that keep information flowing, shrink or disappear altogether.”
When you stretch your limits, learn new things, and stay active, your brain regenerates. Michael Merzenich, a pioneer of plasticity research, says that going beyond the familiar is essential to brain health. “It’s the willingness to leave the comfort zone that is the key to keeping the brain new,” he says.
Getting out of your comfort zone increases confidence and make you more resilient. It increases your ability to handle challenges that would have intimidated you. So, make a goal to do something risky, embarrassing or uncomfortable every day and start living your life to the fullest.
You can do this.
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