The limitations of your comfort zone

I spent some time recently with an amazing woman who shared what she knows to be a false belief, “I have to do it all myself.” My response surprised her. I asked her to define, “it.”

She was surprised to realize that “it” is absolutely everything in her life – personally and professionally. She has a true puritan work ethic and all of the self-limiting expectations that are part and parcel to it.

She prides herself in being “independent” and “self-sufficient.” My friends in CoDA (Codependents Anonymous) would translate those statements into “Afraid to trust others” and “Afraid to be vulnerable.”

I tell her it’s okay to be afraid and that she has a simple choice: She can stay with the known and familiar or she can grow. This requires letting go of the desire to control everything and moving outside her comfort zone (growth doesn’t occur within it).

We all know the adage, It’s all in how you look at it”, but what is “it” for you?

Well, if you’re a misfit like me, then “it” can be broken down into two categories:

  1. Me
  2. Everything that is not me.

With regard to the former, it turned out I had been given a lot of bad information that I had to unlearn. If you are walking around believing that you are “not enough” or “not good enough” then I’d say you need to do some unlearning too.

With regard to the latter, if you’re like me (intuitive, hypervigilant, and with a brain that goes 100mph), then you’re likely accurate in your perception of others. Unfortunately, you probably doubt yourself frequently, which makes it very hard to avoid becoming overwhelmed and to simply know what you know. Worse, you probably make a lot of comparisons between what you see in others and what you believe about you. This creates distance between you and the folks best suited to help you:

The worst things about putting people on pedestals:

  1. Unless they’re especially narcissistic, they don’t like being there
  2. We set folks up. When they expose themselves as human they fall from the pedestal
  3. We make it impossible for them to help us because we decide that we’re unworthy of their love, acceptance, and support.

What I have come to believe is:

  1. It helps me to help others, therefore, it helps others to help me
  2. What I can do alone is very limited but what I can do when I surround myself with good people is far greater (individually and collectively).
  3. Reciprocity was never an expectation of mine, nor something I practiced. I was a one-way street. I gave but would not allow myself receive. It did not occur to me to consider how that affected others. Turns out, people who are not selfish not only want to reciprocate, they feel bad when their time, talents, and gifts are not received.

In retrospect I can see that whenever I talked about “it” I was talking about me. As in:

  1. I don’t get it
  2. To hell with it
  3. F it
  4. It’s not worth it

Turns out I was wrong. Maybe you are too.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.