by Dianne Waltner, Author of Evolving into Wholeness: A Journey of Compassion
No matter what kind of growth or change we desire to create in our lives, it is necessary to step outside our comfort zones—whether dipping a toe outside that cozy space or plunging all the way into the scary unknown with a swan dive or cannonball. Today we are treated to a guest post by my good friend Dianne Waltner. Dianne published her first book Evolving into Wholeness: A Journey of Compassion last month. In it she highlights her own dips and plunges outside her comfort zone as she followed her heart and the voice within to evolve into a life of authenticity, sharing her journey in order to help others find courage to live into their own whole selves. We are privileged today to learn from her reflections on stepping out of our comfort zones. Enjoy! Sheri
“The comfort zone is a psychological state in which one feels familiar, safe, at ease, and secure. You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” ― Roy T. Bennett
Growing up as a bullied child, I seldom felt comfortable around others and preferred to spend time alone. I often sought refuge in my room, surrounded by books, which were my comfort. I didn’t want to be seen or heard. I never wanted to stand out or to call attention to myself. I just wanted to blend in, to conform, to hide in the shadows. I certainly never wanted to make a scene or cause conflict.
As a highly introverted adult, interacting with others was often draining and difficult. I never wanted to make waves or challenge the status quo. I would have liked to stay in my comfort zone. Until that itself became uncomfortable.
At various times in my life, I’ve become too uncomfortable to stay where I’m at; times when I’ve felt the calling to change, sometimes for personal health and wellbeing, sometimes out of concern for others.
Going vegetarian (and eventually vegan), quitting smoking (and eventually quitting drinking), and publishing (and promoting) a book all required me to do things I didn’t initially feel comfortable doing. They all involved big steps outside of my comfort zone. Each time, I tried to ignore the inner voice that was encouraging me to make changes or to speak out. But I couldn’t shake it. And it forced me to make some of the very best and most important decisions of my life – decisions which helped me become a better person.
Living in alignment with one’s values often involves stepping out of one’s comfort zone. That was certainly the case for me. It was difficult going against societal norms. However, I found that, once I gave in and listened to that inner voice, I felt a profound sense of inner peace and joy. Although uncomfortable, I knew that I was doing the right thing.
“To be compassionate, you have to forget your own comfort zone and live well because you live beyond yourself.” ― Sunday Adelaja, The Mountain of Ignorance
I knew that I could never make the difference I wanted to make by playing it safe and staying comfortable. I needed to be willing to be vulnerable and follow my heart. It’s not always easy, and I make plenty of mistakes.
Over the years, I’ve learned several important lessons about leaving our safe place and taking risks.
It’s important to be gentle with ourselves, to forgive our mistakes as we learn, knowing that we’re doing the best we can.
We can give ourselves permission to not be perfect. We can be proud of ourselves for being willing to step out of our comfort zones. We can celebrate our successes and our willingness to take chances. And it’s so important to be compassionate with ourselves. We can become our own best friends.
And remember – “At the end of your comfort zone is where adventure begins and life dances with trembling joy.” ― Debasish Mridha
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