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“Real change is difficult at the beginning, but gorgeous at the end. Change begins the moment you get the courage and step outside your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” ~ Roy T. Bennett
We all have our comfort zone—that familiar place where we feel safe, protected, and secure.
What happens, however, when something compels or pushes or challenges us to leave our comfort zone?
I’ll tell you what happens: we get scared, it feels downright painful, self-doubt sets in, and a host of many other unpleasantries bombard us.
What are we to do about this intrusion into our comfort zone?
Today I’m sharing a simple approach I use to expand my comfort zone and create growth and success in my life. I call it the “Four Ease (Es) Approach.” Let’s take a closer look:
This is for emphatic self-listening—when we think of emphatic listening, we mainly think of applying it to others and not to ourselves. But for us to know and understand ourselves, our needs, and our desires, we must learn how to listen.
The technique I use here is what I call the “emphatic brain dump.”
>> First Step: I set my intention, which is to focus on what’s paining me about leaving my comfort zone.
>> Second Step: I find a quiet place where I will not be disturbed.
>> Third Step: I set aside 30 minutes for this exercise.
>> Fourth Step: I set my timer for 10 minutes and brain dump (I write) until the alarm goes off.
>> Fifth Step: I don’t stop to think, I write all the things that scare, worry, or concern me about leaving my comfort zone to try something new. I only listen for these things, nothing else.
This is for exploring the inner self. The next step is to go deeper and explore everything we just allowed ourselves to listen to while brain dumping. We’re paying close attention to what we have written to search, learn, and understand. We explore with an open mind because the more self-knowledge we use, the more we’ll trust ourselves, what we’ve written, and what it’s revealing to us.
>> First Step: I read what I’ve written, and consider the picture it’s painting. I pay attention to what I’m feeling in my body and where I’m feeling it.
>> Second Step: I ask what the strongest emotion I’m feeling is, and I write it down. I think of where it could be coming from and what I can do to move beyond any unprogressive emotions.
>> Third Step: I pay attention to words, phrases, and metaphors I might have used. I ask: what are they telling me? I write it down.
>> Fourth Step: I explore what positive feelings and emotions I would like to experience. I write them down and keep it in a visible place.
>> Fifth Step: I create a plan of action for achieving it. I keep that in a visible place as well.
This is for embracing the unpleasant—when we embrace the discomfort, the what-ifs, the anxiety, being unsure, and thinking we can’t, we can stop denying or avoiding those feelings or thoughts. It allows us to be honest with ourselves about what we’re feeling and from where those feelings are coming.
When we embrace them, we become comfortable enough to understand, challenge, and resolve our emotions, so that we can then try various solutions, find answers, and take action to help us move beyond them if we choose to.
This for expanding our comfort zone—we should widen and stretch our comfort zone by adding new experiences with different levels of difficulty. In this concept, we use our existing comfort zone as a measurement for our growth as we go beyond our set limits.
When we make the shift in perspective and see discomfort as expanding our place of joy, safety, and comfort, then we’ll find that stepping outside of our comfort zone becomes so much more comfortable in spite of our fears and hesitations. A simple reframe can take us from being stuck to taking intentional action. And doing so helps the unfamiliar and uncomfortable become a part of our comfort zone—because growth has taken place in that area of our life.
By applying the Four Es, we create subtle mindset changes and create everyday habits, which, in turn, lead us to open up to the unfamiliar, the new, the difficult, and the different. We end up trying things we would generally consider challenging, stressful, and painful. It becomes less painful, intrusive, and jarring when we use this approach.
Give this a try if you want to expand your comfort zone and create the success you desire.