Think of a comfort zone as a rest stop along the highway of life. It’s a great place to take a short break and catch your breath, but it’s not a place to become rooted.
If you find yourself in a comfort zone, rest, relax, enjoy the moment. Then get back on the road.
Where have you heard the following?
“You know you won’t succeed if you try that. You’re not that good. Don’t do it, you’ll only embarrass yourself.”
You’ve heard these things from the same place as the rest of us. Your subconscious mind. Sometimes it seems as if its main function is to sabotage any thought you might have of bettering yourself?
Don’t be mad at it. It’s just doing its job, which is to carry out the program you’ve given it.
The function of your subconscious mind can be compared to that of a data retrieval program. It only responds with the information your life experiences have programmed into it.
This 'data retrieval' program is also your default program. It controls 95% of your waking life. It’s only through conscious effort that you control the remaining 5%.
Your subconscious mind doesn’t think for itself. It has no desire of its own. Its function is not to help you improve either yourself or the life you live.
One of the many functions of the 95% is to use the information you’ve given it to keep you from what it perceives as harm.
For example, if you are considering walking down a dark alley at night, and the decision is causing you stress. Your subconscious mind registers that stress and will bring thoughts such as fear and doubt to the forefront. That’s its job.
It will start to chatter and use these thoughts to make you reconsider the unfamiliar and possibly harmful situation. It will do what it has been programmed to do. That is to move you back to a safe, comfort zone.
This is exactly what it should be doing.
It doesn’t matter what the situation is. To your subconscious mind, stress equals danger. Its job is to keep you out of danger.
As far as your subconscious mind is concerned, if you’re feeling safe, it’s done its job. It will quiet down and move to the background of your thought process where it will continue to run unnoticed.
But what about the times when you’re seeking to stretch yourself and experience those things you so desperately want to achieve? Things that may be outside of your comfort zone? In these situations, somehow you have to overcome your subconscious mind.
The short answer is no.
You can’t wrestle it into submission, but you can reprogram it. Here’s some basic steps you can take to do just that. To reinforce these steps, I’ve included an example of how I did this with my writing. You can do this with whatever it is you want to achieve.
Here's a real life example.
Years ago I was writing only western short stories. I was comfortable with that. The more I wrote, the more my writing improved. This was a good thing,
Writing only westerns eventually took me to the point where I felt like my mind was locked in a box with no way out. I was growing a little claustrophobic being a one genre writer. I wanted to branch out into other genres.
That would require me to leave my comfort zone. It made me nervous.
As soon as I started to think about branching out, my subconscious mind went into action trying to stifle the thought. It sensed my nervousness and wanted to keep me safe.
I wanted to expand my writing into other genres, but I couldn’t make the decision to do it. Negative thoughts such as fear and doubt (from my subconscious mind) were holding me hostage.
I remembered I had read somewhere that a writer should pick one genre and stick to it because it’s the only way you’ll gain loyal followers. If you jump around between genres, you’ll only confuse people and they won’t stick with you.
That seemed logical to me and it was a convenient excuse to stay in my comfort zone. So I went with it. My mind stopped chattering at me and went back to running in the background.
I wrote more westerns, but I was still locked in that box. Whenever I thought about trying something different, my mind would jump into action and start pummeling me with thoughts of fear and doubt. It led me to believe I was safe and comfortable just where I was.
It came to the point where I needed to bust out of that damn box. Comfort zone, mind chatter, fear of failure and self doubt be damned. I needed out.
I finally took the first step. I made the decision to step out and I made the commitment to stay out.
For me that meant writing in more than one genre. Now that I had made the decision to step out, I reinforced it with a positive emotional intention. I told myself in no uncertain terms I would write in multiple genres. I took the necessary steps and this is exactly what I did. I now happily write in multiple genre's.
I kept my strong emotional intention front and center. I had to consciously think about it. I developed a strong sense of self-awareness in spite of my lingering fears and doubts.
It wasn’t easy, but I took a leap of faith and with a strong emotional intention, I stepped outside of my comfort zone.
This intentional conscious effort to stay fully present began to rewrite the program in my subconscious mind.
Being self-aware will help you catch yourself when those thoughts of fear and doubt enter your mind.
The following final step requires discipline. Dismiss the mind chatter whenever it surfaces and stay focused on your intention.
The longer you do this, the quieter my mind will became. You are beginning to reprogram your subconscious mind.
Was I afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it? Sure I was, but I kept telling myself I could do it. I believed I could do it. I did it with a strong emotional intention and I did it in spite of those thoughts of fear and doubt that were being thrown at me.
I’m glad I kept at it. Overcoming my subconscious mind and moving out of my comfort zone helped me grow as a writer.
Yes, my subconscious mind still chatters from time to time. It probes my resolve. Whenever it does I dismiss it and keep my conscious mind focused on what I have achieved.
I’ve stretched myself as a writer from those early days of penning just westerns. If I hadn’t stepped outside of my comfort zone and worked at reprogramming my thought patterns, I know I wouldn’t be the writer I am today.
I’m not where I want to be yet. I’m sure there will be more uncomfortable, out of my comfort zone stretching to do and more mind chatter coming my way. I’m okay with that.
I’ve learned to overcome the chatter by intentionally focusing on what I want as I stretch beyond my comfort zone. I've learned how to rewrite the program in my subconscious mind.
When you find yourself feeling a little too comfortable with what you’re doing. Take it as a warning sign that you are being held hostage. It’s time to step out of the zone and get back on the road. It’s time to break loose and grow.
If you want to keep learning this process I can recommend a book to you.
It's called Moving Through Parallel Worlds by Kevin L. Michel.
You can find it on Amazon <Here>
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