This week, I’m happy to welcome Connie Habash as my guest blogger. In this new post, she shares her insights about acceptance, mindfulness, and reducing anxiety.
Facing Your Fears: Maybe You Don’t Have to Step out of Your Comfort Zone
A guest post by Rev. Connie L. Habash, LMFT
Have you been reaching and stretching – trying to challenge yourself with new things, things that are uncomfortable and scary? Pushing yourself past where you feel safe and secure? Stop trying to step out of your “comfort zone”!
What??! You may be thinking, hey, how am I going to grow and evolve as a spiritual human being? Don’t I have to be in my “uncomfortable” zone in order to do that? Don’t I have to do things that scare me, that push my limits?
Not exactly. Let me explain.
What is Comfortable and Uncomfortable?
We all have ideas of what we’re comfortable and uncomfortable with. We believe that over here, it is safe, and over there it’s scary and potentially dangerous. It’s the ideas of where we perceive comfort or discomfort, safe and unsafe, that is the problem.
For one person, bungee jumping is thrilling and fun, and for another, it may be traumatizing. Yet for that same person who loves to leap off a bridge, sitting still and quiet for an hour may cause them to feel anxious and agitated. What is comfortable and safe for one person is a danger zone for another.
The Imaginary Line
Our minds believe that we have this piece of property over here we call our “comfort zone.” Within that space, everything is fine and familiar. Over there, that’s the uncomfortable, “danger zone.” Yeah, that’s risky territory. And somewhere between is the line between them.
Can you please show me exactly where that line is?
You can’t, because it doesn’t exist. Some days, we might believe that it is right here, next to our feet, and if we move even an inch, we’re into scary territory. We’re on the precipice of something new, exciting, and maybe nerve-wracking. Other days, that line is way down the block, or over the hill. We’re walking around in very familiar, cozy territory.
All of that is completely imaginary. The idea of a comfort zone and a danger zone do not exist in Reality. Reality simply is, and when we’re fully present in that Reality, there are no “zones”; just consciousness and beingness.
The Illusion of Safe vs. Danger
If you’ve been pushing yourself to get out of your comfort zone, you may be perpetuating these false ideas of what is safe or dangerous. Safety and danger are both illusions; they are a self-created polarity. If you believe in one, you are perpetuating the opposite as well. If I’m safe over here, then that means it’s dangerous over there.
In my book, Awakening from Anxiety, I wrote: “If we deeply look at the spiritual aspects of this polarity, we see that the ideas of safety and danger are both our creation. There is no absolutely safe situation, and neither is there an inherently dangerous one. Handling a cobra would be a very poor choice for me or probably for you, but a skilled snake charmer does it every day for a living. Safety and Danger are illusory concepts.” We’re projecting what we believe each moment to be and putting into one of the two categories.
If we cling to the idea that we have places where we feel safe and places where we don’t, we’re not experiencing life as it is. We’ve all had experiences where something that previously felt risky turned into something very doable, even fun and exciting – like the first time we went down a slide as a toddler, or diving into a pool. We’ve also probably had the reverse experience when a traumatic situation causes us to fear something that we previously had no problem with.
Freedom – in the Present Moment
Rather than thinking of your life in terms of your comfort zone, where you feel safe, and your danger zone, where you feel scared, shift into the present moment. See how you are feeling right now, without projections or judgments on what is happening. It’s OK to feel scared sometimes, but don’t assume that your fear is an inherent quality of that situation or activity. Likewise, don’t become complacent and slip into unawareness if you believe you’re in that safe, comfy place.
When you step out of putting things in categories of safe or dangerous, comfortable or uncomfortable, you begin to expand your experience of life. You can embrace each moment and choose, in every moment, without labeling yourself or anything else. When we are at choice, there is freedom.
Let go of telling yourself “this is out of my comfort zone” or “I’m staying too safe in my comfort zone.” That creates unnecessary pressure on both you and the situation. Release the definitions you have around yourself and what you think you can and can’t do. Your perception of what you believe is scary or safe for you keeps you limited. In any given moment, you may feel ready to choose something new, and not have to make it out to be a big deal.
About the author:
Rev. Connie L. Habash, MA, LMFT, is a licensed marriage and family therapist, yoga and meditation teacher, ordained Interfaith minister, and writer. For over 24 years, Rev. Connie has inspired her students and clients to live more joyful, empowered, fulfilling lives. Connie is also the author of the forthcoming book Awakening from Anxiety.
©2019 Connie L. Habash. All rights reserved.