“Get out of your comfort zone!” they say. “It’s where the magic happens!” they say.

What “they” also fail to say is to expect feelings of dread, profuse sweat, loss of sleep at night, over or under prepping, and second-guess yourself…even days after you’ve penetrated those comfort zone walls.

This fear, produced by the “lizard” part of your brain that reacts without logic, is normal…and it doesn’t want you to know how to overcome it.

Recently, I did something out of my comfort zone and paid attention to the process my mind and body went through. I know I over-prepped, and I definitely lost some sleep. As the day approached, I experienced dread. And then as soon it was over, I felt the let down cycle begin: “I stink. I’m going to get terrible feedback. I should’ve done this or that….” and then I went ahead and spiraled into all other ways I’ve failed and don’t have what it takes! (Warning: that spiral happens fast. Whew!)

Here’s what it felt like:

Before the event, my lizard brain had a hay-day dousing my veins with cortisol and adrenaline, trying to protect me. Danger! Danger! For about 48 hours I experienced the lower half of the cycle above, second-guessing my ability and value.

So how do I step out of my comfort zone and not be afraid, you ask? You don’t. You do it afraid, with courage, knowing you’ll come back up out of that lizard brain cycle and be compassionate with yourself again.

Feedback about the experience in which I stepped out of my comfort zone came a few days later in words like “purposeful, intentional, helpful, and valuable.”

Why didn’t I see that at the time?!

Here’s why: The part of the brain that overrides the part that knows all is well is three seconds faster to get your attention, and then it floods you with emotion that makes your logic fuzzy. When you recognize it, you can pause and expect the cycle:

  1. Expect the expected when you step out—you’re going to think you stink!!
  2. Know your system is trying to protect you from rejection. Thank it!
  3. Be courageous. Do it afraid.
  4. Expect the physiological response.
  5. Prepare to come back to the top of the cycle––the reason you wanted to step out of the comfort zone in the first place!

Does this resonate with you? Maybe your lizard brain feels even more jumpy than your neighbor’s appears to be. If so, it’s ok. YOU’RE ok. You can still get out of your comfort zone. You can still do it!

  • Create the thing!
  • Write the post!
  • Interview for the job!
  • Do the podcast!
  • Have the difficult conversation!
  • Get in front of the group!
  • Do what you’ve had a desire to do that fear has been stalling you from doing!

From one limitless being with a critical inner voice to another, you CAN do it. Don’t let your brain convince you otherwise.

Rachel is a certified coach with a Masters Degree in Counseling. She experiences the cycle (shorter now!) every time she hits “submit” on a blog post! Leading people to greater mental, emotional, and spiritual awareness is her passion. Learn more hereEmail Rachel or drop a note in the comments. Visit our INspired Leadership team website. Join our Facebook Community. Follow Rachel’s Twitter and INspired Leaderhip’s Twitter. Let’s network together on LinkedIn.

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