If you are looking for a career change, it’s usually because you want to feel a whole lot better: more satisfied, more content, more energized, more excited about your day. That’s what most of my career coaching clients say when they hire me. Moving forward and creating the career that is truly rewarding for you inevitably means expanding your comfort zone, or as I like to call it, your ‘familiar zone’. Your comfort zone may not even feel very comfortable. The change you want to create means moving into unfamiliar territory. As Robert Allen says: “Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone.” That’s why we often have a hard time fully receiving what we most want.
Pushing the Edges of Your Comfort Zone
When you push the edges of your comfort zone, it naturally feels uncomfortable and a bit scary. Call it fear of success or simply fear of the unknown. Your subconscious mind goes into protective mode which results in self-sabotaging behaviours, which in turn brings you back into your oh so familiar comfort zone. A recent experience of bumping up against the edges of my own comfort zone inspires me to share a great tool to help you expand your comfort zone, so that you can expand your capacity to truly enjoy your new state of being.
I have struggled with digestion problems for most of my life. I have tried dietary changes, special teas, homoeopathic and herbal remedies, acupuncture and qi-gong. They all helped to a certain degree, but nothing gave me complete relief. Feeling bloated and upset in my belly was a fairly ‘normal’ experience in my life. My digestion problems were exacerbated whenever I strayed from my regular diet.
When my friend Guler shared her enthusiasm about USANA supplements with me, I was sceptical at first. After all, I had tried so many different things already. However, I was willing to give it a try. To my great joy and surprise, I have been regular since I began taking the supplements several months ago. The bloated feeling in my belly is now a distant memory.
Now you would think that I would have simply rejoiced and embraced my newly found bliss.
We Subconsciously Try to Recreate Our Old ‘Comfort Zone’
Here’s what actually happened. My comfort zone was way too small to contain how well I was feeling in my body. My subconscious self-sabotaging mechanism kicked in and I suddenly craved the kinds of food that would usually get me constipated in a hurry. When I gave into my craving and indulged in a dinner of nachos followed by an ice-cream sundae, I was indeed feeling less than blissful. That’s when I realized that I was subconsciously trying to recreate my old ‘comfort zone’, that oh so familiar bloated feeling. Even though I was so happy to feel better, my subconscious mind was struggling with the new state and afraid of these unfamiliar feelings. I knew it was time to expand my comfort zone to contain my new state of well-being.
Based on the wisdom of Fritz Perls that “fear is excitement without the breath,” I began by taking a few deep conscious breaths. I stood up tall and continued breathing deeply. I felt a sense of peace and contentment, a sense of coming home connecting with my true nature. A few tears welled up in my eyes. I put my arms around my shoulders and embraced myself tenderly. A deep feeling of self-compassion washed over me and a sadness for all those years of suffering. I heard myself say: “You are safe now. Everything is going to be all right.” As if I was talking to a frightened child.
It was indeed my inner child who needed reassurance and recognition. I could feel my shoulders relax and loosen letting my body sway. This gentle sway turned into a beautiful dance. I felt a tremendous sense of gratitude for my body, my health and the strength and resilience that had kept me going over the years, trying one more thing and one more remedy to get into the flow that I longed for so much. Now, I truly felt a sense of excitement and aliveness. What a gift to be alive and well!
Over the next weeks, whenever I felt an unusual food craving, I took it as a sign to expand my comfort zone further and repeated the ritual. Each time, I felt more at home in my new state of being.
Here’s How You Expand Your Comfort Zone
- Notice a self-sabotaging behaviour.
- Stand up tall, feel your feet on the ground.
- Take a few deep conscious breaths.
- Notice your feelings and body sensations.
- Embrace yourself and acknowledge your feelings and sensations.
- Witness your body’s response and let your body move in whatever way it wants. This helps you integrate your new higher state of being.
I wish I had known about this technique when I got clear on my own fulfilling career in 2003. There were many ways in which I subconsciously sabotaged my success in the first few years of running my career clarity coaching business. Now, I know what to do when I notice a self-sabotaging behaviour in myself and so do you.
As you let your subconscious mind know that it is safe to feel that good, you naturally expand your comfort zone to contain more and more of what you truly want.
Julia James is a certified life coach and award-winning author of the book, The Mini-Retreat Solution. With over ten years experience coaching people through positive career transformations, Julia is passionate about helping people connect with their true calling.