As an Enneagram Type Six, you value your comfort zone more than any other personality type. You thrive in well-established routines and can feel very anxious when asked to try something new. These behaviors are limiting, however. If you stay in your comfort zone, you'll never know what you're really capable of.
There are three stages to leaving your comfort zone: fear, learning and growth. In other words, you need to prepare to let go of old habits, develop new skills, and find ways to deal with the growing pains of self-discovery. Here’s how you can do it.
1. Dealing With Fear
Become comfortable with discomfort
Fear is both a valuable and a limiting emotion. The key is to find the sweet spot where you allow for caution without letting fear dictate your actions.
Get used to feeling embarrassed, angry, upset or disappointed, and let yourself make mistakes and be imperfect. Research shows that the discomfort you feel around new experiences prompts the release of dopamine, a chemical in your brain that makes you feel good. As scary as being uncomfortable is, your brain rewards it with joy.
The only way to become desensitized to fear is by confronting it. So pay attention to how you’re feeling and instead of brushing those feelings under the rug, embrace them. Let yourself make mistakes, and try not to be too self-critical.
Do it despite being scared
A common misconception about challenging your limits is that you need to abandon your fear before you can progress, but you don’t. You just need enough courage to act despite being afraid.
Start by making a list of things that make you uncomfortable. Whether that is interacting with strangers, familiarizing yourself with rejection, going on solo adventures, or exploring your uncharted interests – write it down.
Then one by one, start seeking out those experiences. Take note of where you’re at, meet yourself where you are, and don’t take on more than you can handle. Approach new experiences slowly, one step at a time.
Remember, you will feel afraid when stepping out of your comfort zone – it’s a natural reaction. But the only way to overcome your fear is to beat it by attrition. Keep going, especially when you’re scared.
Accept that progress isn’t linear
Type Sixes are known for missing out on amazing opportunities for fear of discomfort and failure. When they finally take a leap of faith and face their fears, they often feel discouraged and give up at the first hurdle.
The reality is, you can have a bad day, week or even month. But as long as you’re making a conscious effort to reach your goals, you’re making progress.
If you’re feeling discouraged, take a step back and review the situation. Do you need to reassess your plan, change your approach, or lower your expectations? Or are you simply having a bad day?
Don’t let one small hiccup discourage you from trying again. Discomfort is an inevitable part of the journey. Recognize that you’re the one who decides which road to take.
Develop an internal locus of control
Your “internal locus of control” is how much power or control you believe you have over the experiences in your life. When you have low self-esteem, you tend to credit your achievements to external sources such as luck or fate – but take full responsibility for your failures. Raising your internal locus of control evens the scale so that you feel more confident in your abilities and don’t feel as heavily weighed down by negative experiences.
A simple way to increase your internal locus of control is to immerse yourself in a new hobby or skill. Focus on how you think and feel during the experience, not what you believe others think of or expect from you.
This exercise allows you to bridge the gap between your need to feel in control and having the confidence to know that you can deal with whatever obstacles lie in your path.
Let go of your negativity bias
If you find that you are criticizing more than complimenting, letting your mistakes overshadow your achievements, or focusing on bad outcomes more than great experiences, you probably have what’s known as “negativity bias.” This is common in Type Sixes, and it’s always accompanied by low self-esteem and a strong desire for control.
Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, once said, “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.” Simply, it’s all in the mind.
So instead of letting mistakes ruin a great opportunity, work on reframing your perspective. Mindfulness is a good technique for establishing new thought patterns by letting go of doubt — more on that below!
Type Sixes tend to spend a lot of time with their thoughts, dwelling over things outside of their control. Being mindful in the moment is proven to help you let go of worries and process your experiences more constructively.
Try exercises that help you stay connected to the present. Guided meditations, journaling, breathwork and cold therapy are mindful exercises you can easily weave into your routine. They can all help you process your emotions more effectively and make it easier to identify when your critical “inner voice” is trying to undermine your efforts by imagining everything that can go wrong.
French psychologist Émile Coué once said, “When the imagination and the Will are in conflict, the imagination invariably gains the day.” In other words, it doesn’t matter if you tell yourself to stay calm when your anxiety threatens to surface; your imagination will always determine the outcome, so use it to your advantage.
A great exercise for Sixes is to focus on the best-case scenarios instead of imagining all the ways something can go wrong. To do this, simply spend 5-10 minutes every morning visualizing the best-case scenario. Let it play out in your mind, and imagine the outcome the way you want it to be. It will feel unnatural at first. But as with anything in life, the more you practice, the easier it becomes.
Celebrate your progress
You’ve probably realized by now that you can't prepare for everything. No matter how many hours you spend planning and trying to avoid disaster— unexpected outcomes are unavoidable.
Making progress is uncomfortable because you’re unearthing and confronting emotions you would prefer to keep suppressed. But don’t let one unfortunate circumstance put you off trying again.
With time and dedication, you hopefully will transform into a more confident version of yourself. Allow your beliefs and opinions to change, and don’t hold onto old habits or unhelpful thinking styles that no longer serve you.
If you don’t get the outcome you expect and the disappointment hits you like a ton of bricks, remember that adversity is the best teacher you’ll ever encounter. So take every lesson you can from it in exchange for the anxiety it inflicts.