“There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin

In order to transform ourselves in positive and healthy ways, we have to leave the safe zone of defending or preserving the self.  We must choose to step away from our old habits and try something different.  Even when old habits may be self-destructive or cause much suffering, they are still perceived as “safe” simply because they are known to the self.  They are not foreign or scary.

In this heightened state of self-preservation, we lose sight of the possibility that there are different ways of approaching familiar problems or circumstances.  When we resist change and transformation, we hold onto what we “know” because we feel threatened.  There is a fear that approaching familiar circumstances in new ways is impossible.  We may even cry out that we wish things were “different” and that we know precisely how we wish things were different – yet, we hold on to the familiar.

This process of holding onto the familiar was designed to protect us from threats, although this protective mechanism becomes an impediment to positive change and growth over time (Marra, 2004).  It feels understandably dangerous to step outside of our comfort zones and take risks.  However, the only way to test uncharted waters is to dip that first toe in.

Self-transformation requires us to be different and give up old familiar habits that we hold near and dear.  It is amazing to notice how tightly many of us hold onto unhealthy/destructive ways of confronting problems and situations.  It is worth reflecting on the price that many of us are willing to pay to surround ourselves with the “familiar.”

What old habits/patterns are you willing to let go of in order to move towards a healthier way of confronting reality?  How can you begin to take those first small steps out of your comfort zone to try new ways of being in the world?

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Marra, T. (2004). Depressed & anxious: The dialectical behavior therapy workbook for overcoming depression and anxiety. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

Featured image: Thanks Flickr friends by kabils / CC BY 2.0

About Laura K. Schenck, Ph.D., LPC

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) with a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Northern Colorado. Some of my academic interests include: Dialectical Behavior Therapy, mindfulness, stress reduction, work/life balance, mood disorders, identity development, supervision & training, and self-care.

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