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Dr. Carmen Harra

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When Life Forces You Out of Your Comfort Zone

Posted: 05/25/2013 1:20 am

Life ushers us through all sorts of unwelcomed, unwanted, and downright unexpected phases, often pushing us into uncharted territory. But most important to remember in times when we're forced out of our comfort zones is that we come equipped with an unbelievable capacity to adapt to change and a God-given gift of resilience. And although we're creatures bound by habit, our true strengths and authentic selves awaken only in the face of unfamiliar circumstances.

Each day, I experience the challenges of my clients and their difficulties transitioning to new stages of life: a complicated divorce, the sudden death of a loved one, losing a lucrative job, or being forced to move. Rightfully so, unforeseen changes cause distress, uncertainty, and a pressing sense of fear. So what are we to do when our habits are interrupted and our stability is tested? Keep these few truths in minds when the comfort rug is swept from under your feet:

Be prepared: Don't let an unanticipated event devastate your life. It's all too easy to become your own worst enemy when you've been pushed out of your comfort zone; you can fall victim to false comforts such as addictive substances or negative behaviors. But if you plan ahead and prepare yourself for the changes that are bound to happen, you can anticipate their occurrence and take the necessary steps to secure your well-being.

Understand the greater reason: There is a greater reason behind every unwelcomed event. What may seem like a tragedy at first can end up being a blessing in disguise. Though you may not understand it (and you don't have to until the time is right), trust that what is happening to you is happening for a higher purpose and for your own ultimate good. Each one of your hardships is a catalyst for necessary change.

Seize the opportunities: Every new chapter comes with challenges, yes, but it's also accompanied by brand new opportunities. For example, your relationship may have ended, but maybe you weren't treated the way you deserved and now you have to opportunity to finally meet the right person for you. Embrace your challenges and break from what you're used to; allowing opportunities to come to you means detaching from old patterns that can keep you stuck in vicious cycles.

Think accordingly: Alter your mentality to adapt to your changes. Just as a chameleon adjusts its colors based on its surroundings, so too must you camouflage with your environment. You are multifaceted and possess all the skills required to succeed; utilize your wide range of talents to thrive in any given situation. It all begins with having the right mentality and the right attitude.

Distract with productivity: The single best way to overcome any life challenge is to be productive. Take up new hobbies that can also help your physical, mental, or spiritual health such as exercise, brain games, inspirational stories, or group classes. Being productive engages you wholly by rerouting your attention towards positive activities. Reenergize yourself with something fresh and different.

Recognize your true strength: You are stronger than you imagine. And only when you're out of your comfort zone does your deepest strength emerge to help you survive a trying time. It's like a part of you that has been dormant awakens. In time, your strength grows, just as your muscles grow with exercise. Remind yourself of all the times you've been faced with a similar situation and have successfully surpassed it.

Let time be your healer: Whenever you find yourself feeling down, remember that it gets better each second of each day; time is your inevitable healing force. Allow this thought to soothe your heart and still your mind. When feelings of anxiety or worry creep in, refer to the age-old phrase: "In time, this too shall pass."

Look toward the future: Anticipate a near future in which you feel secure, stable, and in your rightful place. Practice visualizations of the resolution of outstanding issues: How will your problems be solved? Who will help you? How will you feel, look, react when that day comes? Using your mind's eye, paint the picture of a time soon to come when the details that seem disoriented now have fallen into perfect order once more.

Pray and believe: No matter your creed, having faith in a higher force indirectly endows you with faith in yourself. Understand that your comfort zone is actually a place within you and not a set of circumstances outside of you. Prayer will switch your mindset to acceptance, tranquility, and harmony. When you pray, you hand your problems to the divine and become unburdened so that you can focus on what's most important to you.

While we may want to settle in our comfort zones forever, sudden shifts are simply unavoidable. But if we accept our challenges as critical to personal evolution and progress, we can surpass the inconvenience of unwanted circumstances. The unpredictability of life then becomes the miracle of life, and perhaps we begin to look forward to our next challenge.

To finding your comfort zone,
Dr. Carmen Harra

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