When You Step Out of Your Comfort Zone, You Will Feel Anxious. But Do it Anyway.

Life comes with a disclaimer: “You don’t have to suffer, but you should feel uncomfortable.”


It’s one thing we all share. We all get our start in Your Comfort Zone. Your Zone is a small one-bedroom apartment on the east side of town. It looks out onto the back lane with little more than an alley and garbage bins for scenery. It has one dusty window and one plain brown door.

Each of us need our Zone. It’s the place where we catch our breath. But I won’t lie, sometimes it can be very tempting to throw up your hands and stay in the Zone.

The days slide by in Your Comfort Zone

You know that you are safe here because the routine is well, routine. And you know where everything goes. In your Zone, not much changes, except the date on the calendar… and hopefully your clothes. In theory change, is not a bad thing, but in reality it gets in the way and makes everything so unpredictable.

You like the feeling of being wasted, but sometimes it feels like your whole life is wasted.

Of course, you tell yourself that you could try for more than your Zone provides. Then you remember the times that you tried but things didn’t go the way you intended. Growth wasn’t smooth, you didn’t make any money, you relapsed, your moods became so nasty.

Sure, you have stepped out of your Zone.  But when you do, the excitement quickly turns to anxiety, unpredictable schedules, uncomfortable circumstances and a bunch of unhelpful thoughts and emotions.

  • You have tried to quit marijuana or alcohol or pills or cocaine, but you have relapsed. You probably won’t amount to much more than this anyway… you like the feeling of being wasted, but sometimes it feels like your whole life is wasted?
  • Your anxiety is uncomfortable and unpredictable. You tell yourself that any anxiety is too much, so you stay close to home.
  • You feel depressed, or maybe you grieve the loss of your dreams. There is no way that life can match your expectations. So you stop trying and let the moods come and go as they wish.
  • You know a lot of stuff, but you hate it when other people know more than you do, or are better at something than you are.
  • You have set goals to become more fit and you ended up giving up.
  • You had a business idea once, but really it was just a daydream.
  • You have a creative side and you used to think that you could do something unique with your life. But you don’t take it, or yourself, seriously anymore.
  • You like the idea of relationships, but people break your trust and hurt you.
  • You feel put off by the idea of putting yourself out there.
  • You tried to change once. The “New Normal” just ended up becoming “No More.”

You don’t have to suffer, but you should feel uncomfortable. Some anxiety is normal and even healthy. Discomfort is not terminal.

Why bother stepping out?

You don’t have to suffer, but you should feel uncomfortable. Some anxiety is normal and even healthy. Discomfort is not terminal.

You know where the door is, because there is only one. It has a lock on the outside and a lock on the inside. Your Zone is the one place where you can keep the world on the outside. Locks are good, so are walls and armor.

You like what you like, it’s your style, your vibe. New music sucks, crime is on the rise, pollution is everywhere, cravings are too much, you might get duped by scams, or lose some money or time trying out a new business idea or learning something new. There are a lot of good reasons to never leave the Zone

Sometimes you imagine what it would be like to step out of your Zone. But why? It is uncomfortable. You will feel more anxiety. You will not always know what to do (and you hate that!) and you will feel fear.

Does it ever nag at you that there is more to the world than your little corner? Outside, the weather can be nasty, it is also beautiful. The noise can be chaotic, but you also hear new music. People have scammed you, but most people only want a smile and maybe friendship. The world can be disappointing, frustrating, shallow and it can be depressing, but it is also a place where we find our joy, share our gifts, and find other people who get what we are feeling.

Does it ever nag at you that there is more to the world than your little corner?

Have you noticed that Your Comfort Zone becomes a little smaller each year? That’s how it works. Taxes go up, global temperatures are on the rise, politicians become a little more unbelievable. It all just dries up your hope and your resolve, causing your little corner to become little-r.

So what will you do? Keep the door locked, or step out and smell, taste, see and experience all that your day and your life has for you?

“The more unwilling we are to make room for discomfort, the lower our quality of life. We do what is most comfortable in the short term, which leads to what is least fulfilling in the long run. Staying in our comfort zone is associated with increased stress, depression and a decrease in overall performance.” Russ Harris

If you enjoyed this article, you will want to check out some of my other work:

11 Lessons for Success in Addiction Recovery

Are You on the Fast Track to Unhappiness?

Why Are You Waiting for Permission?

I write articles about wellness, leadership, parenting and personal growth. My hope is to deliver the best content I can to inspire, to inform and to entertain. Sign up for my blog if you want to receive the latest and best of my writing. If you like what I have to say, please share my work with your friends.

Lastly, if you like my writing, you can click here to vote for my page on Psych Central’s list of mental health blogs.

Keep it Real

Photo by MIKI Yoshihito

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