How to step outside your comfort zone and live your dreams
I've always had an interesting relationship with fear in my life. Growing up, I never really called it fear, though. It's more like, "oh, I don't really like what's happening to my body right now. Maybe I shouldn't do this."
I felt this bodily sensation strongest when speaking in front of people and when I would set a goal a big goal for myself that I thought was outside of my current capability.
As I continued to grow, I realized that my fears controlled my life. In every aspect! I didn't even realize how much influence it had on my relationships, career, and income potential. It was almost like I was asleep to it.
I would wonder why everyone around me, so it seemed, were achieving their goals, buying homes, getting their brand-new BMW, and finding their dream job.
And it certainly doesn't help to scroll on social media to constantly compare yourself to other people who look like they "have it all together." The comparison syndrome can rob your happiness if you let it.
It was robbing mine until I realized my mental block.
I was afraid.
I was afraid to set big goals for myself. I was afraid to step outside of my comfort zone. I was afraid to walk up to women and introduce myself. Afraid of asserting and standing up for myself. I was afraid to apply to jobs because I felt like I wasn't even worthy enough to put my name in the hat.
What a dumb game! I was counting myself out before I even stepped foot out into the game of life.
My life was an exact representation of the quote Earl Nightingale said: "Most people tiptoe their way through life, hoping they make it safely to death."
As a result, I felt stuck, complacent, and even envious toward others around me accomplishing so much.
Luckily, I started to recognize this bodily sensation that had been with me all my life and called it what it was: fear. So, I began to aggressively study it in books and in my own life experience.
Because nothing in life changes until you face it.
The first book I picked up was Feel the Fear… and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. As I read, I became aware of my fears I didn't even know I had. On top of that, she shared powerful tools to overcome them.
As I put the tools to practice, day-by-day – something happened. I realized that fear was an illusion. It was something that my brain unconsciously told me was terrible, but through understanding – I could overcome it, and my life got better.
The strange thing about fear is that when you face it, the universe has a peculiar way of turning your nervousness into excitement. And then, after you face it, you realize there was nothing to fear in the first place.
Now here's the thing: knowing and doing are entirely different. You can know this all you want, but you have to train your brain's fight-or-flight response (which is known as your amygdala) to calm down in the moment by basically saying to yourself, "nope, I'm in control here, not you."
"I want this for myself despite how uncomfortable this situation makes my body feel."
Sounds easy, but as we all know, it's not. But with understanding and practice, it gets a lot easier!
As Susan states in her book, she says "If you have not been successful in dealing with fear [you've] interpreted fear as a signal to retreat rather than as a green light to move ahead."
Over time as you begin to overcome your fears, your brain begins to neurologically rewire itself – building new pathways that reinforce the corresponding pattern of thinking that allows you to overcome fears – thus making you mentally stronger as you continue.
Not only does the physical structure of your brain change over time, but it even gives you a psychological benefit of yielding you confidence in every aspect of your life.