Comfort Zones, Good-bye to you! Onward and Upward!

(Mike DePung — Post 18)

One of my favorite salutations is “Onward and Upward.” Yesterday, I ran across a quote from Abraham Maslow that smacked me in the back of the head: “Either you will step forward into growth or you will step back into safety.”

Change is personal progress, and anytime I refuse or resist change, I am truly denying myself growth. In many ways, I am an introvert, and my directions of change often involve taking on or being thrust into situations that unsettle me — like being the secretary on the board of directors of the St. Louis Publishers Association, a current challenge for me. I know, however, that situations such as this lead me to grow.

On the other hand, sometimes these situations that I say yes to or volunteer for make me so uncomfortable that I walk away; I retreat to safety. The problem with that? No growth. Oh, it feels good to stay home instead of going to a meeting or speaking or even going to a meeting and just listening and not participating — when deep down I really want to — but it is not safe because it exposes who I am. Therefore, I do not grow.

Why don’t some of us forge ahead into risks that lead to growth? Because if we do, we have to face ourselves, and that can be painful. We “step back into safety” in order to avoid pain and in order to not face personal limitations. If we live within ego-defined limitations, we lose self. Ouch! Stepping forward into growth means that we have to change. Honest conversations with our own hearts will usually lead us to move out of those comfort zones that keep us from living our true self, expressions of our heart and our spirit, our honest life essence. I can guarantee you and me that whenever we step backwards, it is through the rationalizations of our egos to keep us safe. It is never from our hearts. We know when this struggle occurs because there is a tug to move forward, and a choice must be made. On any given day, I have that sort of choice. Growth, blessing, peace, joy, and love demand that I ignore my ego and listen to my heart.

Onward and upward!