A Four-Step Process To Help You Face Your Fears & Leave The Comfort Zone
Facing your fears and leaving the comfort zone is hard. Sometimes, pursuing or having what you actually want in life can feel downright brain-freezing, blood-chilling, and body-shaking scary.
Even though you know you want to be the next crazy cat-lady and have more cats than any crazy cat-lady has ever hoarded before, you are afraid of expanding out of the comfort zone and making your dream a reality. The resistance you feel is so uncomfortable and overwhelming that you spend most of your time avoiding your dream. *keeping only one cat, e.g
The fear of what might lie beyond our worn out, cosy and safe comfort zone, is often what stops us in our tracks towards a better life. *and makes us refresh our Facebook, or Instagram feed
Ironically, while we are too scared to do what we want, we are also unhappy in our comfort zone. Needless to say, if we are trapped in this numbing place of non-action for too long, everything just boils down to a huge pool of “meh.”
When we feel this fear of the unknown, it is very rarely an actual fear for our lives [even though contacting a friend who you think is pissed off at you, can make you feel that way….]
How do we overcome this often paralysing fear that stops us from writing that book, calling that friend, accepting/quitting that job, pursuing that dream, taking action?
Here is My Four-Step Process That Will Help You Face Your Fears & Leave The Comfort Zone + An Extra Thought
1) Ask yourself: What is my worst fear in relation to [insert task]?
If you are morbidly inclined, feel free to really imagine all the bad things that could happen to you. Bring your unaknowledged fears to the surface of your conscious mind and look each of them in their ugly faces. Write them down and really make them visible. *you might be surprised at what sabotaging thoughts and beliefs have been lurking in your subconscious mind
For example: What is my worst-case scenario when writing a blog post?
- That I have no [interesting] ideas
I ammy work is not good enough
- That my work serves no one and is useless *if it were written on paper, I’d burn it
- That producing work that is emotionally meaningful to me feels hard
- That I am not as good as I want to be
- That once I leave the comfort zone I will realise that I don’t want this
Facing fears [and hidden truths] can be the first step out of our lethargy. Oftentimes, all we feel is a vague notion of “dread” when we think of doing our most important work. Picking this nebulous feeling apart, and knowing what sabotaging, and toxic thought processes and behaviours to expect when you sit down to do your work, gives you an advantage.
2 ) Ask yourself: What would happen if I didn’t do it?
Is it better to not do what you want to do, just so you never have to feel your current level of discomfort again? Is it possible that you have been dragging a “dream” with you for so long, that you never noticed you don’t actually want it anymore?
For example: If I do not sit down to write a blog post regularly and confront myself with fears, it just won’t be written. There would be no posts and consequently no blog [but lots of video game playing…] Do I actually still want to do this?
Why don’t I just stop?
Because I have so many things I think about and learn that are valuable and that I want to share. I feel a calling to produce resources that can possibly inspire and help other people. Doing this work is a core desire: I think about it, research it, talk about it, want it – every day.
Is not living that dream better than facing my fear of not measuring up? No!
Is it extremely painful and uncomfortable every single time I sit down to do it? Of course.
However, being very clear on why you are doing something and looking at the consequence of not doing it, can give you the motivation [or the kick in the ass] you need.
So, why are YOU here? What is so important that you set out to find a way to overcome your fears? What resonated with you when you saw this post that you opened it? That’s the reason you are doing this!
3) Ask yourself: What is the alternative to doing xyz today? *what would everyday life in the comfort zone look like?
Do you really want to look back and think, “Yeah, I wanted to try this and do that, but I was afraid of [insert non-life threatening fear here]?”
And, if you are not going to face your fear and take the next step, what are you going to do instead? What is the alternative that you chose for yourself?
For example: I do not want to look back on this phase of my life and think of what a foundation I could have laid for everything that is to come, but didn’t, because I was afraid someone could say something mean to me. Or, because I was afraid of the learning curve and growing as a writer and person. I do not want look back to today and think that I was too afraid to pursue the things that could possibly change my life for the better. I do not want to spend my days in misery, because I am not listening to my core yearnings. The alternative to what I want to do right now, would be to stop doing it. Giving up my business, and giving up my passion of helping others through my words and ideas. I would lose my sense of purpose in life [and I’ve already done that once. I don’t want to go back there again].
How do you feel about your alternatives?
4) What is the next, smallest thing I can do that will move me forward?
We humans can feel overwhelmed very quickly. Sometimes, even the effort of having to unwrap a salad from its plastic cover can be too much, and we watch it rot because we just can’t be bothered to take it out of its plastic wrapping.* This is a true story…
So, instead of looking at the entire writhing and oozing mass of what it is you want to do – give it the grater treatment! Run it through the metaphorical grater and chop it into as many small units as possible. *No animals were hurt in this example 😉
Do this on a piece of paper, or wherever you feel like you can organise yourself. Ask yourself: What is the next, smallest step, and the next, and the next…that I can take right now?
Related to this exercise: What To Do When You Are Too Afraid To Create
For example: In order to write this post, the next smallest thing I needed to do was open up Microsoft Word. Yes, that is a valid next step. The step after that was finding a topic. A title. A direction. A guideline. A cup of tea.
Your steps can be to find a number, to get an address, to open a book, to lay out your clothing – it can be whatever you want, and need! Make it as teeny-tiny as necessary, in order to inspire action!
You can use this for any task that seems daunting. The more effort you invest into creating small, one task items, the easier it will be for you to experience a feeling of accomplishment, as you work off one doable, non-threatening, task after the other.
If you can’t stop picturing your worst-case scenario and feel paralysed by it, imagine the entire universe around you.
Lean back and imagine the space you are in. The house that space is in. The road that house is on. The village/city that road is in. The country that city is in. How your country looks like from above. How earth looks like. And now expand your thoughts from earth to the furthest corners of the universe you can imagine.
From that place so far away that you are struggling to imagine it – look at your fear.
What is your fear in relation to that perspective?
The next time you are faced with the fear of pursuing what you truly want and plunging into the unknown that sprawls outside of your comfort zone, ask yourself these questions. By the time you are done with them and have created your list of tiny steps, you will feel more empowered to take an action towards what it is you want today!
I wrote and published this post with the help this process [and it still wasn’t easy], but I got it done! So, what teeny-tiny thing can you do for yourself today?
Take care, xox
The Good Enough Creative
A lot of us have internalised beliefs that keep us miserable + secretly thinking that our emotional suffering is a necessary [and even romantic] part of the creative process.
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