09. Comfort Zones | Positive Recovery Mindset | When I actually do approach that cliff we talked about, before the cliff arrives. How would I distinguish where the comfort zone ends and the panic zone begins if my anxiety is always through the roof, if my anxiousness is consistently high, and depression has me really low? If I never venture outside my comfort zone, I will never reach the growth zone, but I will reach the panic zone if I don't do something to change.

09. Comfort Zones

When I actually do approach that cliff we talked about, before the cliff arrives. How would I distinguish where the comfort zone ends and the panic zone begins if my anxiety is always through the roof, if my anxiousness is consistently high, and depression has me really low?

If I never venture outside my comfort zone, I will never reach the growth zone, but I will reach the panic zone if I don’t do something to change.

Hello all my recovery friends!

Thank you for stopping by and saying “Hello”. My name is Jason, this is the Outstanding Life Show. Today we’re talking about something that is really important. It’s actually touching on comfort zones. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve talked about vulnerability. I think the week before that, we talked about gratitude, and being thankful. In previous episodes, we delve into stressors and things that are stressful. Then we looked at triggers, and we even looked that hitting rock bottom.

We’ve talked about when things are really really good, and also being in challenging situations. We’ve even talked about what happens when everything falls apart. What happens when we actually hit that rock bottom. What are some things we can do to pick ourselves back up. Today I want to talk about something that relates to all those things.

We all have comfort zones.

There’s a difference in comfort zones of someone in recovery, compared to someone not in recovery. We’ll talk about a normal average individual who has comfort zones. And we’ll talk a little bit about the differences between those and what those will look like compared to someone in recovery.

We’re talking about addiction and some pretty awesome steps that we can do to help start those conversations, just to be able to get things up and running. Now the main thing I want to share is; this show isn’t about convincing anybody to do anything. I need to stress that point.

This is a great way to have a conversation. Who is this content for? It’s for someone that’s already made the decision that this is something they want. A life without addiction. A life without alcohol. This show is for you. Again this isn’t here to help convince you to do anything, or to stop you from doing anything. This is just a great way to have a conversation. To get the mindset out there.

Today we’re talking about something fun. With comfort zones, we naturally want to seek them out. We want to be in a comforting place. It’s natural for us to want to be in that zone. I don’t want to stay in my comfort zone all the time. I do want to stay at a spot where it feels normal, and that’s why it’s hard to let go.

As humans, we create comfort. There’s nothing wrong with being in your comfort zone, unless you get too comfortable. If you start holding back, you’re not going to grow, you’re not going to learn, you’re not going to try new things. It’s okay to be comfortable, but it’s not okay to be too comfortable (if you know what I mean).

If I challenged myself,

If I take risks (slowly), that will help me grow (slowly). By inching my way outside of my original comfort zone, what was my only comfort zone is no longer. I grow to a new safe place, expanding my original comfort zone to something more. Without any risk, there is no reward. “You miss all the shots, you never take” – Wayne Gretzky

By embracing new challenges, it makes me more creative. It also gives me the confidence to keep going. By challenging myself (in a healthy way), that helps me see beyond limit. It pushes me to figure out, what are some ways I can do this.

If I were to do this, how would I do it ? And then by accomplishing it, I have this sense of satisfaction where I’m able to have the confidence to keep going. There’s three things I have to believe in order to live an Outstanding Life.

  1. Comfort zones. They make me feel safe, Yes. But they also can limit my potential. I have to believe in the possibility (it’s important to stress this) that a better life is out there for me to achieve. If I never believe that there’s, a better life out there, I’m never going to want to go after it.
  2. So after I believe in the possibility number two. I have to believe that I’m actually going to go out there and get it. And that this outstanding life is worth it.
  3. And then the third thing. I have to believe is that I am worth it. That that I deserve this Outstanding Life. And if I don’t find any value, if I’m don’t find value in the journey, if I don’t find value in the opportunity. I’m giving up before even began. And then that stage. I’m starting to settle for less than I deserve. That’s not what we’re here to do. No one wants to settle.

If I never believe in the possibility,
I never take any chances.

And that’s when I begin to settle into a life, which doesn’t make me happy. I’m never truly, going to be fulfilled if I never take those chances. So then the only way I’m ever going to be able to become more than I am, is by experiencing what’s outside of me.

If I’m never pushing myself to being outside that comfort zone, I’ll never be willing to entertain the idea to let things in. As an addict, it’s, easy for me to want to keep numbing, keep stuffing, and keep buffering. In a previous episode, we did chat little bit about what that is.

If I’m numbing, I’m just avoiding the situation by consuming my alcohol, or by taking substances, or by avoiding the conversation, or by stuffing my feelings by going to the gym excessively. My friend Vanessa calls buffering, “When you’re doing anything other than what you’re supposed to be doing.”

As an addict, it’s easy to keep doing those buffering things. The main thing here is buffering is suffering. Suffering is not a blanket of comfort.

Comfort shouldn’t be holding me captive.

As an addict, as someone who is on the struggle, as someone who is in recovery. If I go through those motions of numbing, buffering and suffering. While it might be conditional. That might be something I’m used to doing by habit. Those actions are not supportive of this amazing life that I want, because in that blanket of comfort, by not doing anything, by keeping that going. I’m actually holding myself captive with my own comfort zone by not pursuing a life that’s outside of it. By only living in that moment.

It’s okay to keep growing and it’s okay to keep moving.
As long as I’m moving in the direction of progress.

It is not about perfection.
It’s about progress

I don’t have to be perfect, I just have to keep going. For me that idea was huge. I really wasn’t sure about starting this show, getting everything up running. I wasn’t sure how to get everything organized. I wanted everything to be perfect, and then I took this ASK course and one of the messages was: You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to keep going.

That resonated with me. All I have to be doing is walking in the direction of progress and that’s progress. Mind you, it’s slow progress, but here I am a year later and I’ve got a show up and running. I focus on doing the next right thing. If I really want this Outstanding Life,

I need to replace my limiting beliefs with liberating truths.
I have to be stronger than my fears.
I have to believe that I’m worth it.

Happiness is an inside job.

It’s okay to be in a comfort zone, but it’s not ok to let that comfort zone start making decisions for you. Repeat behaviours, patterns, routines They minimize stress, and they minimize risk. Those are all the benefits around a comfort zone. But healthy patterns should be formed instead, patterns that encourage growth, patterns that challenge us to be more. We end up having a radical sense of transparency. What I mean is a radical open mindedness.

If all I ever believe in, if all I ever see & focus on is the three inches in front of my face. I’m living with a very shallow depth of field. If that was my comfort zone, I’m never going to want to be outside of it. If I’m not open to an idea that’s outside of that, I’m never going to see past that. I can’t see past what I don’t understand.

I have to believe that there’s something else that’s out there. I have to believe that there’s success out there. That I’m worth it. This is where the radical transparency, and radical open mindedness comes in.

Every week we talk about overcoming adversity, we talked about addiction, and these are things that are never really hot topics. However as we create more safe places to have healthy conversations, it encourages a healthy environment to grow. If we equip ourselves and prepare to have certain conversations, they’re healthier & happier. They don’t need to be ominous or scary,

What are some things that push you outside of your comfort zone?

For me, when I wake up in the morning. I really enjoy warm blankets. I also enjoy working out at the gym. But when I wake up in the morning, I like that I’m warm (my comfort zone), but I know that I want to go to the gym. If I want to have a fit, long lasting, life. If I want to be around when I’m double or triple my age, I have to get out of bed and go workout.

I could not push myself,
I could not challenging myself.

If I make the decision to workout while I’m in my bed, I’m probably not going to get out of bed. But if I make the decision to go workout, outside of my bed (I push myself outside of my comfort zone). For me to push beyond my comfort zone, I have to want it. I have to dream a bigger dream. Pushing myself to grow becomes it’s own habit. One of the benefits of having a comfort zone, is sense of certainty & predictability.

When things are certain,
I reduce my stressors in life.

With comfort zones, it’s almost like a dartboard bull’s eye.

  1. In the (bull’s eye) middle, we have our comfort zone.
  2. Outside the bull’s eye, we have the learning & growth zone
    (that’s the optimum performance area).
  3. Then outside of both areas, we’ve got a panic zone.

We’re going to talk about all three, both on the normal perspective and also from a recovery standpoint.

As a normal person, comfort zone provides certainty. There’s a ‘knowing’ or a sense of predictability, with little risk involved. There’s no lingering concern about being harmed or taken advantage. There’s no malice taking place.

It’s a low stress, low complexity zone.

On the stress side of things, if we live in our comfort zone.
We miss out on the magic that happens outside of our comfort zones.
If we live in a bubble (comfort zone) not much is ever gonna happen.

As someone in recovery. A comfort zone actually has a lot more risk. It has a lot more challenges. There’s suppressed feelings, there’s stuffed feelings.

Trying to stay in our comfort zone is similar to driving a car in the middle of a snow storm. When you’re holding on to the steering wheel tightly. And your knuckles turn white. “White knuckling” your way through is “barely getting by”. Sure you’re surviving, and will arrive at your destination, but in what condition, and at what cost?

Before recovery, I suppressed my feelings, I avoided responsibility. I was barely getting by. I lived in my regret. Nothing great ever came from isolating myself to comfort zones. I’m the captain of my own ship. I’m a sailor of my own seas. I’m in charge of the decisions I make. I’m steering this ship. I’m the one in control of the outcome.

Despite how crazy things might get, there still is a solid foundation. A moral compass. I can’t control what happens, but

I can control how I show up, how I arrive.

Navigating turbulent waters is hard because, the idea of a comfort zone can enable me to stay the same, to stunt growth. “Stinkin’ thinking”, we call it in recovery.

If all I ever do is conditioned myself to live in a comfort zone. If left unchecked, a habit forms suppressing my feelings. To use another analogy, the frog in boiling water. At first the frog doesn’t notice, but then as the temperature slowly rises. It believes the water has always been this warm, until eventually the water is boiling.

By continually avoiding responsibility, by avoiding conversations, by barely getting by, I’m living in regret. For the longest time I believed, since getting by worked in the past, that it will continue to work in the future. I was high functioning alcoholic. Regardless of what I told myself, the water was slowly getting warm.

I wasn’t in recovery, I was just a high functioning addict. You could have looked at me and assume everything was fine from the outside. You would see me as normal, but inside I was empty & hollow. My internal conflict built to the point I wasn’t able to perform. The water boiled, and I reached my trigger point.

I was a big ball of stress

A shallow individual who was this empty. It’s crazy how these comfort zones can make decisions for us, even in those moments of desperation. The worse things got, the stronger I held onto my comfort zones.

In the previous episode, we talked about playing that tape to the end. If I’m making the decision today to being safe (and avoiding growth), could it cause the opposite reaction later. To get this far, I’ve received help. This community has been pretty amazing. I receive a lot of feedback from people. I will receive messages about the previous week’s episode, or suggestions on what to cover next. Thank you for reaching out and having a safe conversation. We’ve just talked about the comfort zones, predictability, and a sense of safety.

For normal people, comfort zones offer low stress, low complexity, but high certainty. For addicts, comfort zones can be danger zones. This is where our enabling behaviors can come from. It’s easy for us to condition ourselves to live in this state. This is why it’s hard to convince someone to change who doesn’t want to change. They have to want it on their own.

Growth zone. Living in the growth zone for normal people, this is where optimal performance comes from. This is where healthy conversations are born, coaching conversations.

With optimal performance, we’re open to the idea where growth as possible. We’re committed to that sense of achievement. The magic happens when we believe that it’s possible, and we become willing & able to take action.

That is where aspiration is born.

As an addict, it took me a long time to believe that there was something greater than myself. That there was something greater than my suffering, something greater than my circumstances.

There are stories and there are facts. Stories are things I retell and rebuild off of. If it’s some horrible experience that’s taken place. When I recall the experience, it’s an even more horrible experience. Reliving a horrible experience does not make me more of a person, it actually brings me down. Reliving horrible stories can be depressing. Yes, those events took place, and, yes, those are horrible things. Stories have a time and place, but so too does healing.

Believing in something bigger than myself or my story, is challenging for someone who’s struggling with addiction. If someone is only focusing on the next three minutes, they’re waiting for something to go wrong.

They’re expecting a Crisis.

For the longest time, I was in denial of my situation as an addict. I was numbing, stuffing, avoiding, the water temperature rising. If all I ever do is believe that there’s nothing more than outside of my circumstances, I’m never going to want to have the strength, or courage to want to push myself outside that comfort zone.

I’m going to live in this world of uncertainty. I’m gonna live with this home feeling of confusion. In recovery, they call this the honeymoon stage. Where you’re feeling like you’re a go-getter. You tell yourself, “Whoo hoo! Recovery, this is great! I can do this!” It’s super easy to say you want it, but there’s a commitment that eventually you have to follow through on.

Anyone can embrace recovery.

I had this fear of who I was going to become after recovery.
I associated myself as my addictions, through these substances.

I believed my addiction and I
were the same.

I wanted a life that’s outside of my addiction. I was afraid of what I’d be without it. Who would I be without this suffering, these substances, these events. Who would I be without Friday weekends that last until Tuesday. If all I ever identify myself with as these things, who am I going to be without them? I wasn’t afraid of becoming sober.

Jordan Peterson talked about “If you’re approaching a cliff it’s not the cliff that scares you. It’s the idea of falling that scares you. The fear of falling arrives before I arrive at the cliff. And so this fear is making decisions for me to slow down before the cliff.”

Choosing this life of sobriety, wasn’t scary. What was scary was coming up to the decision. I knew that I wanted a clean & sober life, but I was afraid of following through with it. I was afraid of who would my identity be without these things?

I didn’t believe I was gonna have any level of substance as a person.

What ended up happening was the complete opposite. For so long, I didn’t talk about my fears or internal conflict with anybody. I didn’t share any of my thoughts or my feelings. I just stuffed all my emotion, and then pretty soon people noticed that something’s up.

If someone did ask me if I was okay, I would put up this wall, this facade, this mask. People would come to know my mask more than they would know me.

Eventually it would hit a crisis point. By not believing in myself, by not having a sense of certainty, by not being resilient, I’m more prone to make decisions that are within the comfort zone. I’m more prone to continually live and not go outside (my comfort zone) to that growth zone.

This makes the chances of me making another bad decision really, really high. That’s the dangerous part of comfort zones.

Living in my comfort zone can have a very dangerous impact. What happens is we believe as addicts, that we can pick up right where we left off. If we consume seventeen beers in tonight, we could do that again tomorrow. But if we have had five years of sobriety, our mind thinks we can still consume seven beers, but our bodies have aged. We’re not nineteen years old anymore.

The panic zone.

We’ve talked about the comfort zone. We talked about the growth zone. Now we’re talking about the panic zone. For the normal person, the panic zone comes with feelings of overwhelme, high stress, and anxiety. Feelings of overwhelm can add to an already stressful situation. A stressful environment, brings forward feelings of anxiety, it can compound stress.

I went with a friend to Houston, Texas last year, to go to the NASA Space Center. We even met a couple astronauts! Our tour guide talked about the astronaught’s training. NASA will poach college students fresh out of school. In some cases, before they even graduate college. I asked, “Why would you do that?” And they said, “At that young age, they have the least amount of doubt.”

As a young person, their inner inner-self still tells them they can do something. So NASA will give those new astronauts seemingly impossible tasks to solve in a simulated high stress environment. Then when they solve that impossible task, they give them another impossible task. When they solve that, they give them another, and another.

NASA throws scenarios at them until all they’ve done, is solve impossible tasks.

Then they go home for that day, and come back for another day of challenges. I asked why this was important, the guide said, “When they get up there in space. When something horrible happens, it’s an actual, real, live high stress environment. Since we’ve conditioned them to live and breathe, solving one impossible problem after another. They’re conditioned to believe this level of stress is normal. They can solve their way out of critical problems, and get their way home.”

I was blown away by their training regiment. When you have someone with the least amount of self-doubt, condition them to being a performer in high stress scenarios. They’re less prone to be anxious, less prone to feel overwhelmed, or less prone to give up.

As a normal person, you can manage and deal with real world issues as they arise. If that’s what you’ve condition yourself to do.

Living in the panic zone as an addict. It’s filled with numbing, distress, depression, low confidence. Before recovery, and addict has two emotions. One emotion is when things are really, really good. Another emotion is when things are crazy, frustrating, anger, resentment, the negativity, high stress, everything is balled up

As an addict, when emotions are high (good or bad), things can fall apart really fast. Those balled up emotions, come streaming out. If we don’t have a healthy way of processing them or navigating our way through our emotions, a panic zone can be brought forward by good or bad emotions.

Imagine we’ve got everything in the comfort zone. Where everything else outside the comfort zone is balled up. If all we’re doing is numbing ourselves, everything else appears foreign. We’re living in the state of distress, because we’re coping. We’re choosing to remain in this addiction filled life, the substance filled life.

If we remove the ability to experience all the other emotions, Life becomes more black and white. The world isn’t black and white there’s shades of grey. There’s a brilliance of colour, there’s emotions to discover, but if all we’re doing is living (white knuckling) in the comfort zone.

When the lines begin to blur, as an addict, the comfort zone blends into the panic zone. It’s not healthy to stay in the comfort zone when it’s filled with numbing, distress, and depression.

When I actually do approach that cliff we talked about, before the cliff arrives. How would I distinguish where the comfort zone ends and the panic zone begins if my anxiety is always through the roof, if my anxiousness is consistently high, and depression has me really low?

If I never venture outside my comfort zone, I will never reach the growth zone, but I will reach the panic zone if I don’t do something to change.

If I live in the panic zone, everything is always zero to sixty. Anything will set me off. Anything will trigger me. Stress, numbing, depression, low self-confidence.

Approaching the cliff, that fear we feel, can stop us from ever growing past our comfort zones. If we live in the comfort zone for too long, we removed the possibility of optimal performance, we lose the possibility of growth.

We can’t see past
What we don’t understand.

We’re not even open to the idea of learning. We have to believe that a better life is out there. We have to believe that it’s worth the journey. We have to believe we’re worth the journey

When we encourage growth outside of our comfort zone, Challenges become transparent. Through radical transparency and radical open mindedness, we allow healthy conversations to be brought in. We become flexible with our healthy conversations with others.

Worthiness is a tricky thing.

Internally, it’s interesting, because it’s the same self-worth. How we get a sense of worth and value, is individual. One thing we share in (AA) meetings is: What brings us to those meetings is individual. But what makes us stay, is the message. We talk about the idea self-worth, that we add value. That today is a good day.

Safety moment. It’s okay to not know the answer. It’s ok to have questions. It’s okay to break free from our comfort zones. It’s okay to believe in the possibility of having an Outstanding Life. It’s okay to believe that the journey is worth the challenge. It’s okay to believe that you’re worth it. It’s okay to find value in yourself.

Thank you, everyone for stopping by. Thank everyone for showing up. It really means a lot. I’ll see everyone next week!

Take care,


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