Part 1 of a 3-Part Trapped in Your Comfort Zone Series
Playing it Safe
If your comfort zone has become a prison, it might be time to escape. – Cheryl Richardson
What would you do if you were ten times bolder? Kris Vallotton says, “If the answer is any different than what you are doing now, then you have reduced your life to accommodate your fear!” Wow – what a thought-provoking statement. Most people are unaware that fear is a problem for them because they have reduced their lives to a box in order to minimize any stress or risk. This box is called your comfort zone. A comfort zone is a self-imposed mental boundary that encompasses certain people, places, and behaviors that have become familiar and routine. It gives you a sense of security, control, and consistency. Your comfort zone is the place where you feel most relaxed and at home.
The problem with remaining in our comfort zone is that our full potential remains untapped. We are unable to experience what we are capable of and – I might add – what we were born to do. Self-actualization can only be achieved when we challenge ourselves and disrupt the status quo.
Do you feel as though you are standing on the sidelines watching life go by? How many opportunities have passed you by because you were afraid? How many dreams have died? Are you feeling restless or trapped? Are you hiding from life? Are you jealous of other people’s successes but feel powerless to change? When we are in fear mode we remain mere spectators of life. Fear keeps us from really living the life that God intended for us. In order to reach our destiny, we need to push through intimidation. This article is the first in a three-part series looking at comfort zones. In it, I explore two major fears that keep people confined to playing life safe.
1) Fear of Man
The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever leans on, trusts in, and puts his confidence in the Lord is safe and set on high. – Proverbs 29:25 (AMPC)
You will not be able to successfully push past your comfort zone if you care too much about what people think of you. Here are some signs that you struggle with fear of man: 1. Before making a decision, you rehearse through your mind people’s reactions. 2. You obsessively worry about saying or doing the wrong thing. 3. You condemn yourself for making mistakes. 4. Depending on the person you are with, you change the way you act. 5. You live for affirmation and die by criticism. 6. You use perfectionism as a means to control people’s image of you. 7. Your worth is based on other people’s approval.
The fear of man persuades you to relinquish your power in exchange for the promise of approval. However, this only makes you feel more controlled, rather than accepted. You adjust your life according to the expectations and opinions of others. For example, instead of pursuing your dreams, you choose the career that pleases your family or friends. The fear of man is a slave driver because no matter how hard you work, you never feel good enough. The result is a watered-down, ineffective counterfeit version of yourself. Bill Johnson says that the fear of man dislocates people from their usefulness. He explains that the fear of man will always keep you from God’s ultimate and best plan for your life. It causes people to shrink back and take a safer path. It steals your courage and separates you from your true identity in Christ.
You cannot expect to step into the fullness of your destiny if your main ambition is to be liked. You must make the Galatians 1:10 decision: Is my goal to please God or man? Am I going to be a servant of Christ or a slave to man? True freedom occurs when we value God’s opinion of ourselves above that of everyone else. Did you know that God not only accepts you but delights in who you are? God’s approval releases us to be our true selves, no matter the cost. You were born to be His original masterpiece, not a copy.
2) Fear of Yourself
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. – Psalm 34:5 (NIV)
Venturing outside of your comfort zone means putting yourself out there. However, most of us hold back because we do not believe that we are good enough. We hide because we are afraid of coming up short and being “found out.” More exposure means more risk of criticism, disapproval, and ultimately rejection. So we play it safe in order to keep our flaws and weaknesses concealed. The voice of shame says that you are unworthy and that you deserve to be unseen. Shame is the belief that you are damaged and that there is something inherently wrong with you. It is tactic from the enemy to make you feel like a second-class citizen.
We need to stop accepting the lies of the accuser and realize that most of the limitations we face are self-imposed. Pay attention to your self-talk. Are you saying: “I’ll embarrass myself. I’ll look stupid. I can’t do that. I am not smart enough. I’m not experienced enough. I’m not creative enough. I don’t have the right personality. I’m not entertaining enough. I can’t handle that.”? Many of you are holding back your best self because you see yourself through distorted lenses.
Christian Counseling to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone
You are only confined by the walls you build yourself. – Andrew Murphy
As a Christian counselor, I am convinced that it is time to throw off self-imposed restrictions and to crush small thinking. Break out of the box of who you think you are supposed to be, or who people expect you to be. God is giving you permission to be you and to dream big. He has given you unique gifts and talents with which to change the world. So why can’t you write a book, start a business, create a new invention, or travel abroad? Every person possesses creativity because we were made in the Creator’s image. People need you to be you because you have something to give that no one else can do. Stand up to fear. Don’t bury the treasure that God implanted in you.
If you are struggling with fear and shame, I would be honored to help you find your freedom in Christ and to empower you to demolish the obstacles that keep you from pursuing God’s design for your life. To find out more about how Christian counseling can help you to break out of your comfort zone, please contact me here.
“Let me Hide,” courtesy of Lorenzo Sernicole, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Don’t see me,” courtesy of Francesca Dioni, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “In my comfort zone,” courtesy of Avenue G, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Out of the Zone,” courtesy of Morgan Sessions, unsplash.com