You have probably heard the highly overused quote by Neale Donald Walsch, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” but how do you actually act with that mindset on a daily basis? How can you learn to get out of your comfort zone? Those in recovery know this feeling all too well, since being sober for the first time in years is definitely uncomfortable. The most rewarding things in life are typically uncomfortable at first like the quote says. If you keep doing the same thing you’ve always done, you’re going to get the same thing you’ve always gotten. Even going to treatment for the first time (or second, or third, or fiftieth time) can be uncomfortable, but the results that come from that decision pay constant dividends. While in treatment, opening up to a therapist or therapy group for the first time can feel painful, awkward, weird, whatever name you want to use to personify discomfort. Aside from that, joining a program of recovery is a new and possibly uncomfortable thing to do.
Using outside substances like narcotics or alcohol in order to change the way one is feeling, essentially making one comfortable when they typically would (and maybe should) feel uncomfortable, is what those in recovery struggle with the most. Now that the drugs and alcohol are gone, how do I get through this discomfort? How do you walk into a room full of strangers and “build a network of sober support” like they recommend in treatment? It’s truly the other cliché saying: one day at a time, one moment at a time. There are many ways to begin the journey of getting out of one’s comfort zone, and the hardest part of any change is the beginning. This past support group, the Lakeview Health and Stepping Stone Center alumni participated in creating their out “out of comfort zone” mason jars. The task was to decorate the jars however they wished and cut out 31 things to do to get out of their comfort zone, every day of every month. By the end of the year, that would be doing something new, healthy, and uncomfortable twelve times, which at that point would make it something comfortable. Going easy on yourself and giving yourself credit where credit is due is key in this process. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Just doing something small and healthy each day can set the foundation for tremendous growth.
“A journey begins with a single step,” that means it doesn’t matter how small that step is, just that you take it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or talk about how uncomfortable it feels with others, they’ve been there and they understand fully. The point of all this: the positive results that will begin flooding your life once you’ve started this process. Those unhealthy coping skills that were once used will be replaced with healthier ones, social skills and relationships will slowly start to get better, finances will start to get better, life as a whole will improve on all fronts. The only requirement is a desire to better your life and a willingness to try something out of your comfort zone. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, so make that today.