There are a lot of things we should avoid during this pandemic, such as large gatherings, ignoring social distancing, and leaving the house without a mask and disinfectants. And even before COVID, avoidance of anything that can potentially harm us has been a reasonable survival strategy that has served the human species well throughout evolution. Like most people, you may stay away from certain aspects in your life that make you feel uncomfortable, whether it is a dental appointment, dinner with the nagging in-laws, or the stack of bills that have been piling up in the drawer.
The problem is that avoidance can become a habit, where you deny yourself even the parts of your life that may be challenging, but, in the end, rewarding. Like retail therapy or greasy comfort food, avoidance may get instant relief, but in the end, the pain of regrets outweighs the pain of whatever you wanted to dodge. In other words, avoidance rarely makes you feel better about yourself and your life. So if you want to gain more confidence and self-worth, there are, in particular, four things you should no longer stay away from, which are change, conflict, emotions, and yourself.
While the avoidance of change keeps you stuck, evading conflict may prevent you from setting boundaries and self-advocating. Ignoring your emotions makes you go through life without inner guidance, avoiding yourself, and ultimately, leads you to never feel at home and at ease with who you are. Considering the downside of avoidance, why is it so challenging to get out of this pattern?
Most of us are afraid of abandoning one of the most cherished assets of our lives: our comfort zones. Comfort zones are created by our minds so that we can experience and engage with different aspects of our lives from a place of safety, familiarity, and control. Our comfort zones differ significantly. Each one depends on how we feel about ourselves within the context of each part of life. For example, our work-related comfort zone may appear small and rigid in comparison to the broader and more flexible comfort zone we share with our loved ones, or establish during a vacation. Comfort zones are meant to be temporary, and their boundaries flexible. As we’re growing and expanding, and our beliefs and mental programs are shifting, we extend the limits of our comfort zones to adjust to whom we’re becoming.
In contrast to a healthy comfort zone, one that is protected through avoidance tends to work in the opposite way. Its size decreases, and its boundaries become rigid walls. Anxious avoidance morphs comfort zones into protection zones that shield us from that which makes us fearful and insecure. Our lives shrink as we perceive an increasing number of situations and people as unsafe and, therefore, something we must avoid – including ourselves.
At some point, we feel as though we’re no longer choosing the size of our comfort zones. Instead, our comfort zones control us and the size of our lives. A constricted comfort zone can be one of the greatest obstacles between us and positive change. The longer we stay in that constricted zone, the more we avoid and resist leaving it, even if we aren’t at all comfortable in it anymore.
Join me this Thursday, July 2nd at 9AM ET / 12PM ET on Empowerment Radio and learn the insights and tools on how to make letting go of avoidance and leaving your comfort zone easy and empowering. You can also tune in on Facebook Live.