“You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
– Roy T Bennett
I had a talk recently with my bishop.
In the course of our conversation, I explained how I had been holding back on some ideas for new designs for my Etsy shop because I was worried about producing religious designs. It has been a back and forth battle because while I get ideas for these designs all the time, I worry about seeming like I produce only religious things.
Not that I am ashamed of my religion, when I am doing my best, my religion is a very big part of my life, I just worry that it will overshadow some of the other things I do and sort of act like a restriction.
At the same time, I see how bringing in those designs can help my business pick up a bit and so it became clear in that conversation that I was just stalling because of fear.
My relationship with fear is like what most anxious and depressed people experience, not good. If something is “scary” I tend to shy away from it and avoid it for as long as possible. I’ve been able to avoid many things I find scary, but I can honestly say, it hasn’t made my life any easier nor has it brought any sense of happiness.
As a missionary, one of the first talks I gave in church happened to be on the topic of fear. (Unfortunately, I had somehow forgotten it was being given on mother’s day and while the talk itself was received well, it was just really awkward that I didn’t talk about mom’s.) While preparing I looked up how the LDS Church’s Bible Dictionary describes fear. (What follows are my thoughts and not the actual definition.)
Their is a godly fear, or reverence, we feel towards God as an omniscient, omnipresent, almighty being. This fear can be related to a fear, or respect, we feel towards our parents. In essence, we respect our parents because they taught us to obey certain rules which came with certain consequences for obedience and disobedience. This isn’t a fear as in we cower before them, but that we understand they have an authority over us. (I hope I explained that well and didn’t make people think I am afraid of my parents.) This fear ultimately works to strengthen us.
Then there is fear produced by doubt. Doubt being a product of Satan, tends to be a roadblock in our lives, stopping us from progression. To clarify, doubt is not that voice in your head that says, “Don’t touch the hot stove!” I’m talking about the voice/feelings that stop you from making a decision because it won’t work/ it’s dumb/ nobody does this/ it’s not perfect/ whatever other reason there is that really is just full of negativity.
The fear that stops me from following ideas because it’s uncomfortable or makes me vulnerable isn’t what I want in my life. No, it is this type of fear that was easier to dismiss once I developed my relationship with God.
Today, I understand that my faith is a big part of maintaining a healthy, positive outlook in my life. I also get that for some people, religion/faith is a huge turn off, so take from this what you can but know there is a healthy fear and an unhealthy fear. Learning the difference will make it easier to make those changes in your life that ultimately lead to a positive and healthy sense of self.
It does mean bringing yourself right to the end of your comfort zone and stepping forward but, it’s not bursting that zone and destroying it, it’s just expanding it a little, moving the fence a few inches at a time. After separating from my former spouse, it was difficult to go out in public alone. I was so used to being with someone that I felt very uncomfortable and lonely. So I started by going to the movie theater alone. I would go to late night showings so that there were less people and it wasn’t as weird. The first time I went, I had a little moment of panic and almost threw up but, I made it through the night. It was fun and now when I go see a movie, I still go alone and I love it. I order my snacks, I relax and I feel free to lose myself in the story and really enjoy my time.
I will always encourage people to try new things and work on progression, because I know that life is about the experience. Part of that experience is learning to work with your body and mind and understand what makes them work. With my anxiety and depression, it was learning that sometimes my body just can’t keep up with my mind. There is a physical exhaustion that comes with trying new things for me and though my mind may be in a good place and ready to go, my body may hold me back and that’s okay. I am still learning to find a balance and it’s a life long adventure.
Every day I survive is another day I succeed and if I can push myself and get a little better, then that success will continue to grow.