It can be daunting to realise how frequently we hold ourselves back from growing. Although we might want to deny it, often, the greatest obstacle to our dreams and our vision of the best version of ourselves is ourselves. We each harbour our own set of limiting thoughts, beliefs, opinions, perspectives, and coping mechanisms in which we’ve become entangled. Over time, we’ve cocooned ourselves in these familiar ways of relating to the world around us which provide comfort and safety as a method of protecting ourselves. Staying within the known protects us from the unknown; from the future, from uncertain situations, from life’s inherent risks, from thoughts and opinions we imagine others have about us.
Being wrapped up in our comfort zone has served us well throughout our lives by keeping us out of danger as we’ve grown in a world much bigger than us, but these limiting ways of being were never intended to last a lifetime. There are so many excuses and stories we tell ourselves that keep us living in this comfortable zone but the truth is that we can’t stay wrapped up in the cocoon forever. A cocoon is a temporary vessel for transformation, not a place we should take up permanent residence. It may be a nurturing and safe place to be but once we’ve reached the full capacity of our growth there it becomes claustrophobic. Staying within it stunts further growth and prevents us from experiencing the benefits of stepping into new ways of being. Eventually, a time will come when staying in our comfort zone will become more uncomfortable than stepping out of it, and that will be enough motivation for us to move forward. Anaïs Nin wisely said, “and the day came when the risk to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Although it may seem paradoxical, recognising how much we restrain ourselves is an incredibly empowering realisation. The self-awareness this realisation brings provides us with an opportunity to turn things around and change our course. Each time we notice we are choosing to stay within what we know and what we find comfortable, we can decide to set ourselves free and step bravely into the unknown. It is empowering in another sense because it shows that freedom and independence are here and now, not somewhere in the future or in someone else’s hands. The wonderful part is the feeling of freedom that comes when we recognise that our thoughts and beliefs are fiction, not fact. The walls we have built around ourselves which once seemed rigid we find are flexible. This allows our concept of ourselves and what we are capable of to expand as we embrace what once seemed impossible, leaving room for even more growth and expansion in our lives. Despite how unrealistic it might seem now, we’ll eventually start to find excitement in opportunities that encourage us to set ourselves free from self-imposed limitations. This will become our new way of being.