This is what held me back for so long
Have you ever seen a great job advertised that you knew you would be perfect for and that you would love? But when you read the criteria they were seeking in the candidate you decided not to apply because you didn’t have every single qualification listed? You dismissed your own credentials, saying: They aren’t looking for someone like me.
Or have you ever been in a relationship that—deep down—you knew was totally wrong for you? But you stayed because you were scared to be alone? You convinced yourself to stay in it because you thought: I’ll never find anyone else.
Making these types of excuses allows you to stay nice and safe in your comfort zone. Whether that’s staying in a relationship that isn’t working, not applying for the job of your dreams, or any other number of things, you’re only shortchanging yourself. You feel safe in your comfort zone, but you’re left wondering, what if?
If you’re anything like me, you’re not satisfied with settling for a “what if?” scenario. That feeling just eats at you because you know that the big life you always knew you were meant to live is waiting for you on the other side of your comfort zone.
So what keeps us playing small?
Fear. Fear is the one thing that is keeping you from living your big life.
I used to live in a world of fear. Fear that I wasn’t skinny enough, smart enough, pretty enough, or funny enough. I would tell myself things like:
· You’re not smart enough to ace that paper.
· Don’t speak up, you’ll just say something stupid and embarrass yourself.
· Don’t apply for that job; you’re not good enough for it.
· You’re not pretty enough or skinny enough to be desirable.
· Don’t leave this relationship; you’ll be miserable alone, and you probably won’t find anyone else anyway.
These fears kept me stuck in my comfort zone. And I can tell you it is no fun being stuck—or feeling stuck—inside your comfort zone!
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Stepping outside your comfort zone means you’ll have to battle all sorts of fears…
There’s the fear that you’ll be judged; fear that you’ll fail, and fear that you’ll embarrass yourself.
Think back to the times you have acted—or not acted—out of fear. Maybe you dismissed an opportunity that would take you outside your comfort zone? Or maybe you didn’t speak up in that meeting when you really wanted to? Become aware of these times. How did it make you feel to shrink within yourself and hold back when you know you should have done something differently?
Now think of the times you have felt the fear, and you spoke up or acted on your instincts anyway. Whether the situation turned out the way you wanted it to or not is beside the point. The important thing to remember is that you felt the fear, and you didn’t let that fear win. How did facing your fear make you feel? (I’m guessing a hell of a lot better than shying away!)
Getting good at recognizing your fear, and not letting it win, takes time and conscious effort (trust me, I know!). But once you commit to not letting fear keep you playing small, you are already well on your way to living your big life. So next time you find yourself backing down, shying away, or playing small, take a deep breath, look that fear in the face, and do it anyway!