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Sapha Pardo Heckman On How to Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone To Grow Both Personally and…

Sapha Pardo Heckman On How to Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone To Grow Both Personally and Professionally

Learn to fall in love with discomfort — A lot of the work I do revolves around the unique process of learning how to fall in love with ourselves and our lives in a proactive and sovereign manner. What this means, is learning how to proactively become the author and the main character of our lives, and moving beyond the old belief systems that keep us ‘at the effect of’.

It feels most comfortable to stick with what we are familiar with. But anyone who has achieved great success will tell you that true growth comes from pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. What are some ways that influential people have pushed themselves out of their comfort zone to grow both personally and professionally? As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sapha Pardo Heckman.

Sapha is a Women’s Embodiment and Empowerment Mentor. She blends feminine embodiment, emotional mastery, and introspective practices to guide women in reclaiming personal sovereignty and transforming their lives. With over a decade of experience, she helps clients excavate subconscious wounds and limiting beliefs, fostering self-compassion and inner power. Through her compassionate guidance, she facilitates a journey for women to reconnect with their purpose, embody authenticity, and step into fulfillment, creating a safe space for growth and self-love.)

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share in this conversation with you!

Do you remember that over-achieving, goodie two shoes kid who was always involved in the school plays, always made honor roll and also belonged to the AV club, and choir? Yeah, that was me (well, all except for the AV club, but that was mostly because our school didn’t have one, otherwise, you bet I would have been a part of it). I was, in many ways, the quintessential nerdy, dramatic, “so mature for her age” kid who was more likely to be found having an in-depth conversation about life with the adults than to be playing sports or sitting at the “cool” table (or, often, any table) with the other kids.

Looking back, and with a deeper understanding of the systems, patterns and subconscious beliefs that were at play in my developmental years, I can’t help but to feel an overwhelming sense of tenderness for the girl I used to be.

I was the “too much” child — akin to Anne of Green Gables — with an ever-poetic way of expression (which, as you can see, continues to be a part of my life), an incredibly sensitive soul, a predilection for the dramatic, and a kind heart that far too often got trampled over, taken advantage of, or dismissed by my peers.

I was the girl the other girls liked to pick on, and who eventually grew up to be better accepted by the boys in her class (an interesting wound of the feminine that also ties to sisterhood wounds, but which I’d need a whole month to get into). And I was also the “weirdo” that always stood out somehow, and always felt left behind.

Brought up in an environment that informed my perceived reality as one where everything was my responsibility, and where making sure to follow every rule down to the letter in order to “earn” attention, care, love, tenderness and even human connection, I internalized a lot of wounds that, without my understanding, created a dynamic of people-pleasing that affected many areas of my life as a grown woman, and which I’ve had the absolute pleasure of uncovering more about and ultimately, healing, after years of mindfulness work.

Truly, I love this younger version of me deeply. She was uniquely wild and relentlessly loving, she had unwavering faith at all times, and she was really exceptional at listening, witnessing, and holding safe space for others. Ultimately, these aspects of self, which I relish in so freely now, are what have allowed me to work with so many women over the years to help them find their way back home to Self.

It’s that innate ability to see, perceive and hold the wholeness of a person without judgment that allows me, even to this day, to observe the little pieces that often lay hidden in a person’s subconscious, to shine a light where there may have been a lack of understanding, and to create room for greater context and empowered action in people’s lives.

And it all started with those formative years. When all I wanted to do was make people feel the vastness and the beauty of living this life to the fullest by getting on stage and performing — I though it the perfect venue to tell a story that could deepen people’s experiences and enjoyment of life — and it was this “muchness” that allowed me to break free from toxic patterns and relationships later in life and which has opened the path for me to work as a healer in this arena with others as well.

In short, mine was a youth spent in daydreams and fantasy, as well as unwavering love and dramatic expression. It was a life with many lessons, and a fair share of trauma, and I wouldn’t change a second of it.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I’m laughing because I feel like I have too many to choose from, so this is presenting more challenging than expected, but since we’re talking about discomfort, and this particular quote has been so beautifully woven into a great many aspects of my life, I’ll say it’s this: “He who completes a quest does not merely find something. He becomes something.” ― Lev Grossman

I think we spend too much time believing we are here to “do” something, when in truth, our entire lived experience is made up of little moments in time in which our choosing to BE, are what ultimately denote our path, or tell our story.

It’s not that we’re here to check all the boxes, move through each day, and reach every goal as predetermined for us that makes this wondrous life worth living. It’s that we have the opportunity to become something with every breath, every decision, every moment of anger or grief or joy.

Each moment lived gives us an opportunity to BE someone, and every aspect of self we get to embody, gets to shift, transform, and experience each unique “quest”, knowing that the end goal isn’t the completion of said quest, but the expansion of Self.

And when we speak of this in poetic or even inspirational terms, it seems very easy to understand. Yet the real magic takes places when we show up from a place of empowered and sovereign action in our lives when things (or, in keeping with the quote above, the quest) don’t go according to plan, and we’re suddenly presented, not just with discomfort, but with pain, fear, and resistance along our chosen paths.

A quest isn’t meant to be this super easy, barely breaking a sweat, yet somehow everything is working out for me and going my way kind of experience.

A quest is a journey filled with opposition, challenge, and discomfort. A quest is meant to put you through the ringer. It’s meant to challenge and often, break you down so you can alchemize the medicine lying within and thereby, not reach the end of the quest, but become, and that, is pure magic in my opinion.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Here we go again, choosing from my many internal treasures.

Well, look, like I said before, I’m a huge nerd, and I love all manner of fantasy, fiction and sci-fi, but my all-time favorite book and movie is “The Never Ending Story”.

I’m sure some people are acquainted (at least peripherally) with the movie, but I know only a few people have read the book, and I have to tell you, the book changes my life every single time I read it.

It’s got such depth, and it touches on so many amazing esoteric, philosophical, and even spiritual points, that it never ceases to show me some new aspect of Self, or present me with a new way to view the world around me, and as someone who also nerds out on psychological, philosophical, esoteric, and “woo” stuff, this book is truly the perfect intersection between then all.

I actually feel like I understood Jung’s work around shadow work a lot better when I read “The Never Ending Story”, and it’s been a faithful companion in my journey of self-awareness for many years.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Let’s start with a basic definition so that all of us are on the same page. What does “getting outside of your comfort zone” mean?

To my perception and understanding, “getting outside of your comfort zone” means leaning into your edge. It means opening up to the possibility that doing something that challenges you, scares you, or makes you feel very intensely, is the key to your most expansive expression of self.

Getting outside of your comfort zone is breaking down the barriers fear has tried to erect around your perspective and recognizing them for the illusion they are. It means sitting in the discomfort, the pain, the unease, the unknowable and the challenging with easeful presence, and a willingness to release your attachment to the outcome and/or the false perception of control.

Getting outside of your comfort zone is learning how to fall madly in love with every aspect of your life in such a way, that the act of remaining devoted to the process is seen as sacred, and the idea of remaining the same, and in a state of stagnation (which we often relate to as a comforting space) is no longer acceptable. Because you deserve better, and because you know that a fruitful and fulfilling life comes from fluidity, not inertia.

Therefore, when you choose to get outside your comfort zone, what you’re doing, is creating a life that’s filled with courageously sovereign action, rather than a life that feels like you’re constantly at the effect of — a life where you hold no power, and even the smallest things will set you off course, which is, in fact, a life half lived. Choosing to get outside of your comfort zone, is choosing to act like you are at the helm, and that, is a powerful tool indeed.

Can you help articulate a few reasons why it is important to get out of your comfort zone?

A person who desires to lead a profoundly fulfilling life — one free from toxic patterns and negative influences, and filled instead with abundance, vitality, and love — must venture beyond their comfort zone.

And understanding this, requires us to get clear on our own understanding of, and need for comfort, because, as human beings, we’ve been seeking comfort from the moment we were born.

Comfort is the warm embrace of peace, after all — or so we think — and therefore, we gravitate toward familiar spaces that offer solace, sometimes without conscious awareness. The tricky part is that comfort isn’t exactly all we’ve made it out to be in our minds, and our relentless pursuit of the familiar can inadvertently breed stagnation, hindering personal growth and perpetuating cycles of decay that do not serve us.

That toxic relationship you can’t seem to get away from? — It’s the sense of comforting familiarity that your subconscious has become addicted to that won’t let you move on.

That project you started but will likely never finish? — It was the discomfort of sitting with the unknown, and the fear of failure that brought it to a crashing halt.

That sense of being “stuck” in your life you can’t shake off no matter how many self-help books you read? — It’s the lack of resiliency and personal devotion that are preventing you from moving beyond the realm of knowledge, and into the realm of embodied action that are getting in your way. (That, and an inability to hold the pause in between)

It’s not that comfort itself is inherently evil, or that you’re a bad person for desiring comfort, it’s that somewhere along the line, you’ve conflated comfort with complacency, and mistaken the status quo for peace. And this limits your potential for growth, preventing you from embracing the transformative power of discomfort (pushing past your edge).

Because comfort isn’t a quiet, soft, and worry-free space of immobile existence.

Comfort is the deep sense of calm you tap into when you act from a place of sovereign action in your life. This is the space you can tap into when you choose to show up when things get tough. It’s the place of inner strength you can draw power from when you feel like the fear, or the heartbreak of change will overtake you completely.

Discomfort is the realm of radical ownership and accountability you embody in full when you remember you’re never at the effect of the world around you but rather, at the helm.

That momentum you’ve been thirsting for to properly you forward? — Resides in your ability to lean in, to embrace discomfort as a part of the journey, and to utilize it as a quintessential tool to help you break the mold, go beyond your limiting beliefs, reframe old ways of thinking and become empowered by choosing to proactively move, create, change, transform and choose again each and every day.

Not because it’s the easy thing to do, but because it’s the exact opposite.

By embracing discomfort as a catalyst for growth, we unlock our full potential, break free from self-imposed limitations, and realize our loftiest aspirations with unwavering determination. And in so doing, we redefine our relationship with “comfort,” recognizing it not as a sanctuary of stagnation, but as a springboard for personal and professional excellence and a bedfellow to discomfort meant to be alchemized to our highest good.

Is it possible to grow without leaving your comfort zone? Can you explain what you mean?

I truly believe stagnation is the root of all decay in this world, and because of that, it’s my belief that growth cannot come from a place of complacency. (Which, as stated above, is what we often conflate comfort with)

Therefore, if a person is truly stagnant and in a place of inaction; growth, healing, development, and evolution will continue to elude them. And while it’s theoretically possible to experience some level of growth without stepping beyond one’s comfort zone, the extent of that growth is likely to be limited.

Visualize a seedling planted underground. If the seed were to simply rest in the warmth of the soil, without breaking its husk so it can create roots that can nourish it and allow it to slowly push through onto the surface in pursuit of sunlight, air, and life outside of the depths in which it was first planted, that little seed’s ability to blossom will be stunted. There will be no development, no growth, and ultimately, no creative force moving through it. It’ll simply remain a husk deeply buried underground, and it’ll eventually lose its connection to life itself.

Growth necessitates venturing into unfamiliar territories, it asks that we come face to face with our challenges, and our deepest shadow aspects (in the Never Ending Story, this is akin to when Atreyu and Sebastian came across the magic mirror the sphinxes were guarding — whereupon looking in, they could see their true selves), and it asks that we embrace the discomfort found therein so we can alchemize, transform and evolve.

Without leaving our comfort zone, we may experience a sense of familiarity that allows us to keep things very much within the status quo (or create the perfect environment for us to settle), however, substantial personal and professional development typically require us to reach beyond these familiar edges, and challenge what we’ve perceived to be black and white in order to be inspired by, and become properly attuned to a deepening that’ll allow us to propel ourselves forward and create something better, more adequate, and more properly aligned with our highest potential and good in this life.

As an example, let’s consider a scenario where someone desires to advance in their career. They might continue to perform adequately within their current role, and they might feel comfortable with doing only so much, but significant advancement will require them to take on new responsibilities, acquire new skills, or navigating unfamiliar situations — actions that inherently involve discomfort and risk. (Because no outcome is every guaranteed, and failure can feel like too great a threat to a person who hasn’t become adept at resting with the uncertainty of the transformation).

Similarly, personal growth often involves confronting fears, overcoming obstacles, and expanding one’s horizons, and while it’s possible to make minor adjustments within our comfort zone, transformative growth usually occurs outside its confines.

Moreover, staying within the comfort zone can lead to complacency, resentment and missed opportunities. Without exposing oneself to new challenges, there’s a risk of stagnation and unfulfilled potential.

Can you share some anecdotes from your personal experience? Can you share a story about a time when you stepped out of your comfort zone and how it helped you grow? How does it feel to take those first difficult steps?

In truth, I’ve been stepping outside of my comfort zone in so many different areas of my life for so long now, it’s become a practice and a part of my everyday life in many ways.

I’ll share a couple of experiences with you, starting with my journey into the world of movement.

What I mean by this, is that, as a child who grew up in a big metropolis, and who had no interest in or innate talent for or ability to play sports or be physically active (I really was the embodiment of a couch potato growing up — which is why I love movies and books so much, because that’s all I really ever did), the idea of “exercise” and/or movement wasn’t one that appealed to me in the least.

I did eventually start working out a bit, and as an extroverted introvert, the best place for me to enjoy this movement was in the comfort of my own home, led by some unknown person on a television screen. (This was one hundred percent my comfort zone) Yet, on a sunny afternoon, when I’d finally had my fill of being an inactive shut-in, I chose to walk into a yoga studio, and my life was transformed forever.

I remember feeling extremely self-conscious, and uncomfortable looking around the room at the many lithe, bendy, and strong women who seemingly so easily moved through each pose I was huffing and puffing to get myself into.

It was probably the most uncomfortable, infuriating, and even ego-crushing unsettling thing I’d ever done. (At this time, I was still at the effect of my body dysmorphia and eating disorders, so that also added to the fires of discomfort) I felt like a fish out of water, and I almost quit right then and there.

Yet the morning after, I was on that yoga mat again. Trying to breathe, learning to pay attention, noticing the little messages my body was trying to share with me as I contorted into shapes I’ve now become enamored with, and I was proud of myself for pushing well beyond my comfort zone and sticking with it.

I stuck with it so much, it eventually became a part of my everyday life, and in due course, I decided to push past the comfort zone again and move from student to teacher. The transformation and growth I’ve experienced from this one singular action have had ample positive repercussions in my life, and I still move through each practice with as much fervor (and sometimes, as much discomfort) as I did on that first class.

As an entrepreneur, I can share that even the thought of creating a company was foreign, scary, and uncomfortable for me to even consider. Especially when I knew that I wanted to center my business around something most people would likely never fully understand.

In fact, this heightened level of discomfort and fear of being judged, rejected, misunderstood, and even vilified (which, as with most things in our lives, also tied to a lot of childhood wounds I’ve taken many decades to sit with and integrate) kept me stuck in the role of a yoga teacher for many years.

Not that I didn’t love it, mind you, because to this day, my experience as a yoga teacher is something I hold most sacred, and in which I continue to take pleasure in in my life, but I knew what I yearned for was a deeper medicine, and it took me getting out of my comfort zone to get there.

I started small, holding conferences, talks and classes on the Divine Feminine and infusing them with my studies on shadow work, energetics, and even nutrition, and it slowly built into a realm where I could create a business I could be proud of wherein serving women from a place of mindful sovereignty and feminine embodiment was what the brand got to be about.

No more hiding behind yoga classes and nutrition consultations.

No more hiding the title of “feminine embodiment and empowerment mentor” from the world, even as the glazed looks and eye rolls were palpable.

These elements are simply a part of the experience of this work, and they’re something I get to observe on a regular basis, but they’ve not become a chain of stagnation and fear wearing the mask of comfort in my life because I’ve chosen not to let them become (or remain, because they were definitely present more powerfully at first) the reason I stopped growing, or the reason my business was never built.

Things don’t have to be perfect for us to take action, and we don’t need a promise of success or triumph in order to take that first uncomfortable step. All we have to do is show up in, be present with the resistance, honor the discomfort, date the fear, lean into the challenges, and get curious as to who we will choose to be when things get tough.

Anyone who’s ever opened a business will tell you they’d never have even thought about it if they’d known right from the first how hard it was going to be. And anyone who’s become successful and created something wonderful in spite of the challenges will tell you it never gets any easier, but you do get better at moving through each sharp edge one at a time, until a day comes when you realize how far you’ve come, and how proud you are of the fact that you never gave up.

The persistence, the resilience, the devotion and even (when appropriate) the ability to walk away from, dissolve, or even start something anew is what makes this practice so magical. We have within us the ability to create, uproot, revamp, revision, deepen, and evolve every step of the way, no matter how uncomfortable we may be. And we keep flowing because we know deep down that we, and the process, are always worth it. Regardless of the outcome.

Pushing past that comfort zone is an act of self-love, and we get to express this intimate relational aspect with ourselves through every facet and every aspect of our lives, and in my opinion, this is wonderful.

What are your “five ways to push past your comfort zone, to grow both personally and professionally”?

  1. Learn to fall in love with discomfort — A lot of the work I do revolves around the unique process of learning how to fall in love with ourselves and our lives in a proactive and sovereign manner. What this means, is learning how to proactively become the author and the main character of our lives, and moving beyond the old belief systems that keep us ‘at the effect of’.

By taking a proactive approach to learning how to “fall in love with” our discomfort, what we’re doing is learning to sit with, ask questions of, observe, and ultimately learn from the things in our lives that take us to our edge. The things we too often shy away from when we’re in the process of changing, and which allow us to push past our comfort zone in a powerful way.

Falling in love with your discomfort means being completely open, vulnerable, honest and caring with yourself, and learning to recognize what narratives, patterns or fears are keeping you stuck in a place of reactive inactivity and stagnation in your life.

This means recognizing that the discomfort you’re enduring isn’t going to be the very thing that ends you, but rather, the tool you can wield to create a masterpiece.

As an example, I want you to imagine what it felt like to hold plank pose for the very first time. (Or if you’ve never held plank, just imagine what it would feel like) At first, your muscles will scream at you within the first few seconds of execution. Your shoulders will ache and likely collapse in weird places, your legs will quiver, and your glutes will hyper-contract, your abdominal muscles will immediately shake (or in some cases, protrude towards the ground), your wrists will ache, and within a few seconds, you’ll be tempted to collapse, put your knees down, or push your way back into child’s pose as quickly as humanly possible. (I know, I did this a lot when I was first introduced to this crazy pose)

Now imagine (or recall) what happened the next time, and the next, each time, the posture was challenging, uncomfortable, and maybe even a little infuriating. Yet with every repetition, your body’s edge shifted, and little by little, you became more adept at holding the posture for longer and longer periods of time. Each time, you might have even entered into a little conversation with the Self over how much you hate the pose, and yet how good it is for you, or how proud you are of yourself for hanging in there just a second longer or paying attention to your alignment to better support yourself in this highly uncomfortable space.

These little moments of connection to Self in the middle of that discomfort are exactly what I’m referring to when I say, “learn to fall in love with discomfort”. It’s a courtship of sorts, an exploration that allows you to choose who you will be as you sit with something that isn’t ‘the norm’.

When we’re willing to watch what happens as we lean just a little bit further to push that edge a little more at a time, what we’re doing, is learning to lose the fear, the resistance and the rejection of discomfort all together.

We’re learning to fall in love with the feel of remaining present, mindful, and sovereign, knowing that if we can make it to the next breath, the next item, the next moment, we’ll have unlocked a new aspect of self and grown beyond that comfort zone that could have very easily kept us from our highest potential had we not chosen to lean into that edge just a little bit longer.

2. Believe your hype — Often times, we’re unwilling to go beyond our comfort zone because what’s at play, is a subconscious belief that we are just not enough. Maybe we’re scared we’re just not strong enough, agile enough, or healthy enough to run a marathon, for example. Or maybe we’re just not sure our work is good enough to merit asking for that raise, or applying for that job that feels so far out of our current reality.

Maybe what it all comes down to, is that we’re afraid to try on a new pair of jeans because we’re scared people will look at us weird or judge us for it. Or we may just be scared to look different, so we choose to buy the same jeans we’ve been buying in bulk, in the same size, from the same company and with the same cut and fit since high school.

Either way you look at it, a lack in faith, a lack of understanding or a lack of ownership of your “own hype” (aka how much more amazing than you give yourself credit for you truly are) will always keep you in a state of fear, complacency, scarcity and self-dismissal, and when you’re in that space, not only is it incredibly difficult to see beyond your present circumstance, it’s also twice as challenging to go beyond your perceived limits, and in this place, it’s impossible to break the mold and go outside of your comfort zone to experience, create, or be something extraordinary.

If you wake up every day and bemoan your bad luck, rather than treating yourself like the most capable, worthwhile, courageous, creative, and powerful individual (which, by the way, you are), you’ll curl back into bed, throw a metaphorical blanket of misery, despondency, and defeat over yourself, and move through this world with the firm belief that every challenge you face is destined to defeat you, and you’ll become addicted to the ‘norm’, where you can keep things as they are, never have to try too hard, and can bury your head in the sand when things get tough, scary, painful or “just out of reach”.

So, you have to start believing your own hype. — Become a being of intentional action, believe that even the most seemingly unachievable goal is just within reach, play with and learn to move beyond your edge consistently, and remember that greatness doesn’t come from quick, easy, and “within the lines”.

3. Get to Know Your Perceived Limits — Getting outside your comfort zone can be challenging when you don’t have a clear idea of what the limits of that zone may be. Therefore, engaging in a process of deep self-reflection (and, as I call it because of my poetic nature, self-courtship) is a key aspect of learning how to move beyond those perceived limits that can be keeping you stuck.

When you make time to get to know yourself without any judgments, fears or harsh self-depreciation, you enter into an intimate relationship with every aspect of yourself, and this allows you to ask questions of any parts that may be addicted to, feel protected by, or believe there’s an undeniable need to remain connected to, at the effect of, or walking hand in hand with the patterns in your life that make each edge seem monumentally insurmountable (aka the parts that often prevent us from going past that comfort zone).

By setting aside time in your life to reflect on your actions, decisions, and the feelings they evoke, you can start identifying patterns that reveal your perceived limits, and create a clearer path beyond them, to a place of growth, change, and evolution in your life.

This reflection can be facilitated through journaling, therapy, or mentorship, it can also be activated through meditation or yoga, or even something more creative like painting. Again, not to keep repeating myself, but think of it like a date and a true courtship.

You’re trying to get to know yourself, romancing yourself, and in so doing, you’ll be able to recognize situations that made you uncomfortable and analyze your responses.

4. Expand and Master Your Emotional Intelligence — Emotional intelligence isn’t the act of repressing, dismissing, concealing, or minimizing your emotions. Quite the contrary, emotional intelligence is a heightened level of mastery of your response towards those emotions and your ability to act with wisdom, regulate, honor, and understand them.

Emotional intelligence is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to growing beyond your comfort zones, because it equips you with the tools needed to help you better navigate the uncertainties and challenges that come with growth, change, and personal evolution.

A person who’s grown to deepen and master their emotional intelligence has the capacity to self-reflect, self-regulate, and lead from a place of personal authority in their lives, all of which are essential when working toward moving beyond a perceived comfort zone.

For example, imagine being tasked with the leadership of a cross-functional project team in an area where you have limited expertise. If you were to allow your emotions to take over completely, rather than allowing yourself the time to process what’s coming up for you in a productive manner, you’d likely find yourself avoiding the tasks at hand, procrastinating, or simply landing in a realm of heightened overwhelm that may well be your default setting (*Remember that when it comes to the “comfort zone” we are sometimes speaking of patterns we’ve become accustomed to or become dependent on to “survive”, therefore, if you’ve lacked the tools to help you regulate your nervous system and understand the triggers that put you in a reactive state of overwhelm, this response will likely be the one chosen by your subconscious, and the one you’re likely to act upon when you feel “out of your depth”).

If, however, you’ve made time to work with your emotional intelligence, you’ll be more likely to manage the initial anxiety (self-regulation), stay motivated to learn and grow (pushing beyond the original pattern of response), empathize with your new team members’ perspectives (great leaders are great at emotional intelligence and utilize it to help them grown and create well outside their comfort zones), and communicate effectively to lead the team, which will allow you to move past that perceived limit, and move on to a new aspect of your leadership, your job-skills and your creative expression of self (believing your own hype).

In essence, expanding your emotional intelligence enables you to approach the challenges and discomforts of stepping outside your comfort zone with greater ease and effectiveness. It transforms the act of pushing boundaries from a daunting task into a continuous journey of growth and self-discovery.

5. Find Your Edge Often, and Challenge It — Lastly, as with most things in life, I find that the best thing we can do to truly understand or even master a concept such as this one, is to embody it completely. Meaning, in order to go beyond the mental understanding of “how” to go beyond your comfort zone to grow both personally and professionally, you must be willing to be in the process of going beyond that comfort zone regularly, with intention and with attention.

A good way to think of this is to understand that the internalized perception that we must be able to master something immediately just because we’ve learned it, is a fallacy. — You can’t ice-skate just because you read how ice-skating works, you have to get on the ice, fall a few times, learn the basics, and slowly progress your way to the level you desire to reach.

Similarly, you won’t be able to master the art of moving beyond that comfort zone just by reading about it, you’ll need to create space in your life to experience it.

Maybe you start with little things, like creating a small and attainable goal for yourself in your business, even if it makes you a little uncomfortable at first. Maybe it’s starting a podcast before you sell that online course, or maybe it’s running for 5 minutes every day for a week before committing to that marathon, either way, find an edge you can lean into gently, with presence, with intention, and without wanting to bulldoze past it in five seconds just because the discomfort of the unknown or the time are “too much” for you to hold.

Learn to be present with that pause between the breaths we talked about earlier and allow yourself to practice leaning into your edges every day, and soon, you’ll be very well-versed in this art form.

From your experience or perspective, what are some of the common barriers that keep someone from pushing out of their comfort zone?

I could spend a considerable amount of time talking about fear and unhealed wounds of the subconscious that keep us stuck in this pattern of “remaining in the comfort zone”, but as it would take too long, and there’s so much personal nuance to that arena, allow me to focus on two key points for our consideration here:

  1. The inability to hold the in-between — There’s an old quote from Tirumalai Krishnamacharya that goes, “Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God.” I love it because, when it comes to one of the reasons so many of us seem to be unable to break away from that comfort zone, is that we’ve not yet become accustomed to resting, or knowing God remains with us in the “in-between.”

Meaning, it’s that silence, that unknown, that moment right before completion, or right after a step has been taken where we tend to lose our faith and run back to our “comfort zone” more readily.

For example, say you’ve gotten out of a relationship, and you’re finally feeling steady enough to consider the possibility of putting yourself out there once again.

The fear of “what if” certainly holds the potential to stop you on your tracks, but so too, will the fear of the in-between. — That moment when you‘re working up the nerve to ask someone out but in the “in between”, all you feel is discomfort, fear, resistance, and doubt. It’s not the asking out that’s stopping you, it’s the moments right before, when you’re all by yourself in a realm of held breath, a realm where you’re not entire committed to the action, and completely in the dark about the outcome.

That “in-between” time when you’ve asked the question but have yet to receive the answer.

That moment where you’ve launched the new offer in your business, but no one has purchased it yet.

These are all “in between” moments that, when you’re unaccustomed to sit with and move through, can push you back into a place of “comfort” where things feel a little more predictable and known, even if it means settling and giving up on something, rather than moving beyond the discomfort and holding the faith, holding the vision, holding the path true, and only releasing or moving on when the time and if the moment is appropriate at all.

2. Belief that you’re not worthy — If you believe you’re not worthy of better in your life, you’ll continue to settle and call it fair, meant to be and adequate.

I want you to take a moment to consider the real reason you’ve been putting up with behavior, patterns, jobs, or even relationships that you know aren’t truly fulfilling, inspiring, or aligned with your heart of hearts. If and when you’re honest enough, it often becomes clear that the reason we have chosen to remain somewhere we’re unhappy, is that we’re afraid we don’t deserve any better.

If your internal dialogue, for example in the case of an old relationship past its expiration date is “But they put up with all my crap. Where else am I going to find someone who’ll be willing to do that?” your comfort zone is one of self-imposed self-dismissal, self-depreciation, and self-rejection. And it’ll feel more “soothing” or “known” for you to simply remain despite the fact that it’s slowly killing you inside. (*Trust me, you deserve better! And you don’t have to stay just because you haven’t yet learned to honor your worth)

Likewise, if your belief in your own self-worth is misaligned, incomplete, or lacking in any form, you’ll find yourself giving up before you’ve even begun because you won’t believe you have it in you. Or maybe you’ll believe that someone else will have to do it for you because you’re “just not made like that”. Or you’ll look at your coworkers with envy and foam at the mouth because they have what you want, and you’ll never be good enough to reach them, or do what they do when it all seems to come so easy to me, while you suffer away, and can’t even scratch the surface.

See what I mean? If you believe your worth is so little that you’re better off giving up, or simply remaining in your stagnant little place forevermore, you’ll never tap into the inner power you hold (and believe me, you are powerful beyond measure) to push pash that comfort zone, grow and evolve.

There is a well-known quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt that says, “Do something that scares you every day”. What exactly does this mean to you? Is there inherent value in doing something that pushes you out of your comfort zone, even if it does not relate to personal or professional growth? For example, if one is uncomfortable about walking alone at night should they purposely push themselves to do it often for the sake of going beyond their comfort zone? Can you please explain what you mean?

I love this quote, and to me, this goes deep into the truth that fear is only ever there to challenge us to choose again.

Meaning, fear is a teacher that gets deep into the deepest parts of our discomfort and pushes the buttons it knows are likely to send us running, but which all the while, is hoping we will stand our ground and go beyond.

Fear is an opportunity for us to choose better, to honor our values and our worth, to look beyond the moment of apprehension, and take empowered action knowing that all the while, it is you who is at the center of it all. You who holds the crown and decides, not only who you will be in the face of, but who also gets to take radical ownership and create something more for yourself, no matter what.

When you learn to look at your fear, your discomfort and even your pain as sacred companions, teachers, and tools in your life, you empower yourself with the ability to act from a place of loving devotion and unrelenting self-authority. You take yourself out of the passenger’s seat and become the main character, the owner of, and the creator of your life, and this allows you to live a life that feels deeply fulfilling and purpose-filled.

In my personal life, I’ve gotten into the practice of consistently leaning into my edges. Whether that means reaching out to a perfect stranger online and establishing one of the most amazing friendships of my adult life or jumping out of a plane. Either way, I’ve chosen to do things, to show up, and to be in presence of each moment even within the realm of fear, discomfort, pain, or resistance in my life.

Because I know I’m worthy of the growth, because I know ultimately, I am stronger, more capable and more powerful than, and because I know that the more I learn to honor these sharp edges as sacred, and the deeper my relationship with them, the more rich my life becomes.

So yes, I believe in learning how to court, date, and get to know the uncomfortable, painful, fear-based spaces in our lives better and in a more intimate way.

If you’re afraid of public speaking, join an improv class.

If you’re scared to fail, experience failure firsthand (maybe do a headstand for the first time and experience the fall).

If you’re terrified of letting your guard down because you’re afraid you’ll get hurt, fall in love with the process of letting vulnerability with intelligent boundaries and integrity become an art form you practice every day — even if you do get hurt because honestly, not getting hurt isn’t a worthy enough goal for your life or of a powerful being such as yourself.

Learn to sit with, rather than trying to change, control, manipulate, prevent, or alter things and soon you’ll see, that you are capable of holding it all.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

The work of my legacy is that of mindfully sovereign self-seduction — which is my very poetic way of saying, “going beyond self-love, and learning how to take up space form a place of radical ownership and emotional intelligence that alivens the feminine heart. And that, in an of itself is the power of becoming reclaimed, of honoring your inner power, of recognizing your worth, of speaking our truth and never settling for less in this life.

I dream of a day when every woman shows up from a place of empowered action in her life, and that, is my dream movement.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

Ok, I’m going to be “that person” for a moment here and say Ariana Madix.

I’m not a fan of reality TV, but as someone who can relate to the relational elements she’s move through which such grace and emotional intelligence of late, (I love how she’s moved so fully into her own power, she practically glows) I’d love to have a cup of tea with her and have a conversation about the power, the bitter-sweetness, and the marvel of becoming reclaimed in the midst of the storm.

How can our readers follow you online?

I’m reachable via Instagram at and by email at my website is

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

Thank you! It’s been a pleasure

Sapha Pardo Heckman On How to Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone To Grow Both Personally and… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.