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They are an inevitable part of life. Speed limits. Age limits. Limited patience. Or limited willpower. Limiting beliefs.
There is one limit though that offers little benefit. In fact, it holds us back on a grander and more impactful scale than anything else ever could.
Robert S. Sharma wrote:
“What holds us back in life is the invisible architecture of fear. It keeps us in our comfort zones, which are, in truth, the least safe places in which to live. Indeed, the greatest risk in life is taking no risks. But every time we do that which we fear, we take back the power that fear has stolen from us—for on the other side of our fears lives our strength. Every time we step into the discomfort of growth and progress, we become more free. The more fears we walk through, the more power we reclaim. In this way, we grow both fearless and powerful, and thus are able to live the lives of our dreams.”
Ten years ago, I would have told you that this sentiment was total crap. There was no way that my comfort zone was an unsafe place. To the outside world, not only was my comfort zone a safe place, but staying in it was what was making me wildly successful. I was thriving—dream job, dream relationship, dream kids. How could my comfort zone be considered a danger zone?
Enter my relationship with alcohol. A huge piece of my comfort zone. I drank because it was safe. It was acceptable. There was less shame and pushback to the idea that I drank a few glasses (or bottles) of wine each night to unwind than there was to the notion that I was taking medication for my anxiety and depression. How could I possibly ingest that pharmaceutical poison? Yet, no concern about the damage my nightly wine habit was causing!
Drinking was what I knew. It seemed safe. No one saw anything wrong with it and it was something I could talk about and partake in with others without raising any external red flags.
Yet, continuing to drink and staying in what I knew was costly. It had become my danger zone. No, my life wasn’t falling apart around me. My life wasn’t in danger. My career was still progressing. My relationship was solid.
The cost and the repercussions I was experiencing were seemingly more sordid and troublesome. They came like thieves in the night stealing away my sleep, my peace, and my self-worth.
Night after night, I quieted those voices in the way that felt safe, the way that felt right, the way that everyone said was normal—with a drink in my hand and a smile plastered on my face. While inside my head, the war raged on.
My comfort zone had become a danger zone within my own brain and within my own body. The cognitive dissonance was eating me alive. It fueled the stress and anxiety that I drank to quiet. Outwardly, everything appeared to be in order, but internally the architecture of fear was chipping away at my foundation.
I needed a massive overhaul. A remodel of all my beliefs and behaviors. But, I was terrified.
My comfort zone felt like hell, but the idea of stepping beyond it was equally hellacious.
Which pain and possible pleasure should I move to? What would the repercussions be if I did nothing? What would they be if I did decide to take a long, hard look at my drinking and change it?
I knew that the pleasure of drinking only quieted the pain for a moment. How could I stay in my comfort zone if my comfort was creating so much pain? The red flags were being tossed up and now I feared what would happen if I didn’t take heed.
Was this where I really wanted to be forever? How could this be my safe place if I feared what would happen if something didn’t change? Did I really have a choice other than to explore the risk of reevaluating my relationship with alcohol and exploring the role I wanted it to have in my life in the future?
We often don’t realize that our comfort zone has become a danger zone. That shift, that distinction comes on slowly. It weaves itself into the very fabric of our being so the idea of changing it seems an insurmountable task. We don’t think of it as growth or self-care. Instead, we view it through a lens of fear. We are faced with the idea of reinventing who we are. We are afraid to consider who we might be when we step out of safety and into the unknown.
Facing that fear is certainly a challenge but isn’t staying somewhere where you no longer feel safe or uncomfortable an even greater challenge?
Has your relationship with alcohol moved beyond your comfort zone? If you’re ready to explore what a life where you’re happier, healthier, and in control looks and feels like—join us for a 30-day break from alcohol in The Alcohol Experiment! Over 300,000 people have found their freedom and we’d love to have you join as well!