“We generate fears while we sit. We overcome them by action.” Dr. Henry Link
There is nothing like being comfy and cozy in our comfort zones. Right? The problem with that is, of course, that we can’t change or grow if we hold on to our comfort zones. As Susan wrote in Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, “Most of us operate within a zone that feels right, and outside of it we are uncomfortable. For each one of us that zone of comfort is different, but whether we are aware of it or not, all of us—rich or poor, famous or unknown, gay or straight, male or female or whatever our gender identity— make decisions based on the confines of that comfortable space.”
While we may feel secure in our comfort zone, we likely are living with the pain of neediness and the fear of change. While comfort zones can make us feel secure, they also keep us from feeling powerful. If we want to grow, to experience, to learn, we have to start moving out of complacency in that comfortable space. We have to start expanding our boundaries. To do so, we have to take action, we have to put in the work—even if it means being uncomfortable. That is the only way we can know our own power.
Trailblazing writer Octavia Butler, who pushed the boundaries in the genre of science fiction and fantasy as a black woman in the 1970s, famously pushed herself out of her comfort zone. She was known for making lists of her goals and then working to make them happen, despite the odds against her. She often wrote affirmations for herself, taping them up next to her workspace. On one index card she wrote, “So be it, so do it.” This simple phrase calls into being what she wants, but also tells her that she has to put in the work to make it happen. A message Susan would definitely get behind.
The simplicity of Butler’s affirmation is something that many of us complicate. We see what we want and we get frustrated because change seems so daunting, so much work, with so little payoff. It scares us to think we might put all that work into what we want and not have anything to show for it at the end. We let the fear of failing keep us from even trying.
We let self-doubt feed our fear and our comfort zone keep us safe, so that we put up a wall between us and our dreams. We become stuck rather than taking the steps to move us towards our goals. Susan said, “Remember that much of the trick of moving from pain to power is taking action.” In other words, we need to focus less on the “Feel the Fear” part of the phrase and spend more time on the “Do It Anyway” part.
Doing is a major part of overcoming our fears, but the doing is also the scariest part. Yet we can’t experience all of life’s goodies if we don’t put ourselves out there and DO IT. We all have the power within ourselves to push past the boundaries of our comfort zones. We need to recognize that.
“Whether it feels like it or not, you already have more power than you could ever have imagined,” Susan wrote. “We all have. When I speak of going from pain to power, I am not talking about pulling the power in from any outside source. Inside of you, just waiting to emerge, is an incredible source of energy that is more than sufficient for you to create a joyful and satisfying life. It isn’t magic. It is only a process of tapping the energy already within you, though you may not be aware of it.”
We can’t always jump right into taking action. Sometimes it requires us to take baby steps. Maybe some of us would rather go from being scared of heights to bungee jumping in one step, but most of us want to expand our comfort zone more carefully, taking one thoughtful step at a time.
“Take a risk a day—one small or bold stroke that will make you feel great once you’ve done it.
Even if it doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to, at least you’ve tried.
You didn’t sit back . . . powerless.”
There is nothing wrong with taking tiny steps to push your boundaries. After all, each tiny rain drop counts in a flood. Make a plan, breaking down your goals into the smallest of steps. Put up affirmations and motivational quotes where you can see them, just like Octavia Butler and Susan did. However you push yourself out of your comfort zone, the important thing is the doing.
Brilliant article, all the good coming from Susan’s books. She was a star and probably sits that way in the universe now, a bright star shining down with people still relating to her books to help other in their tasks ahead in life.
There are no victims only unconscious creators
Thank you. This writing is just what I needed to hear today.
So timely thank you 💜 I’ll reread “Feel The Fear and Di It Anyway” as I prepare to move my home and rent with a friend while I look for a new home in a different area / environment .
In love and gratitude
Thank you. I needed this push.
want to thank Susan for those most inspiring words, so I have felt all the pain and now I Will do it, I will hold and love myself and I will do it,
I am excited and nervous about going to Portugal for a month. I don’t like to be stressed or uncomfortable but the affirmation ‘whatever happens, I’ll handle it!’ anywhere, Portugal or wherever else I holiday. Thank you Susan
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