3:26 AM / Sunday February 5, 2023

23 May 2019

The Exit Strategy… leaving comfort zones — and people — behind

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May 23, 2019 Category: Local Posted by:

Recently, I awakened just before midnight, and as I was about to turn off the television that was watching my hubby and I while we slept, I overheard well-known pastor — Joel Osteen — speaking about the things that we allow to limit us. 

“Your time is too valuable to spend it with “peace stealers,” people who get you all riled up; “dream killers,” people who tell you what you can’t become, or with “compromisers,” people who cause you to give in to temptation,” he said. “What you are unwilling to walk away from is where you will get stuck.”

Chile, listen – I heard that, and my entire soul jumped!

It is easier said than done to get past those behaviors and the people that would limit us. But it is what we MUST do in order to grow beyond a seedling.

I had what I considered to be a dear friend for years – I would do anything for and with this person. But my mother saw this relationship, thought about it and told me otherwise. That wise woman who gave birth to me gently told me one day that the person I loved so much and would do anything for was viewing me from a lens of envy, not love, and that I was to be careful.

I thought my momma was crazy and seeing things, even as I had already seen signs that this person gossiped about others too much, would complain instead of finding gratitude in the good things, and was content to be taken care of, rather than finding their own pathway. 

It took me a long time to extricate myself from what I thought was a lifelong friendship, but I swear; the minute I did, my life opened up in a kaleidoscope of fantastic change. 

I was so floored. It was the beginning of a marvelous lesson for me — that bad energy, limiting beliefs, and ungratefulness will stunt our personal and professional growth.

So there I was, chugging along, facing certain opposition, grinning and moving around and through it all, when I began to realize yet again that it was time to go to another level. However, I was waiting for others to “get it together” so we could move on one accord.

It was another lesson I tried to ignore, because it most certainly meant that if  I moved without them, they would be left behind. How many more times would I have to do this?

So I sat there, chafing and feeling stifled, until God had had enough of my foolishness and sent someone to knock on my skull, as a reminder that I had things to do, and that I would have to leave those who were not ready behind.

Growth and maturity are action words, not just nice things to say.

I used to cry each time I saw my life changing, as it invariably cost me a friendship or two. I am never content to sit in one phase forever, and that leaves some people extremely uncomfortable. They mean well, but wanted us both to stay where they felt comforted. I no longer cry as much — but rather look forward to who will be put on my path for the next phase — always remember to walk in kindness.

Nothing grows in stagnation. I remind myself of that when people fall off with whatever they tell themselves that I am too much about in that moment. 

What or WHO are you holding on to, that has stunted your growth? 

“If you don’t kiss the wrong people goodbye, you will never meet the right people,” Olsteen said. “If someone isn’t adding value and pushing you towards your destiny, you need to make a change. Everybody can’t go where you are going. It doesn’t mean you don’t love these people. You have just outgrown them. You are moving at a faster pace. If you keep hanging around them, it will limit your growth. You need to gradually spend less and less time with them.” 

Whew! He spoke a word unto my soul. What else is left to say after THAT?

Never let the comfort zone of others become your CAGE.

There are people who will not leave with each phase of growth. They will celebrate and encourage you, no matter what. Know them by their deeds when they show up.

Your destiny is not tied to the ones who walk away. Be kind, but kiss them goodbye.

The people closest to you may not see the greatness in you.  They see the ordinary. 

In 2007, a good eight years before l left the town I was living in, I felt stifled and knew if I was going to grow, I had to leave. So, while my husband kept saying we should stay because it was a place of comfort and everyone knew me, I was clear – staying there would not challenge me to the next level. It stunned him, but once again, doors and experiences began to open, and it was ultimately the best decision. 

Why are we overstaying because we’re comfortable, even as it no longer serves a purpose beyond just being there?

What behaviors are we sitting in and around that stunt our mental growth?

Who are the limiting people in our midst that we are afraid to walk away from, for fear of being judged?

Do we hold on to these things like nail fungus, or do we begin the process of emotionally “killing” that thing, no matter what it takes to be free of it?

As the illustrious Robert Nesta Marley once said, “emancipate yourselves from mental slavery,” for it is the key to freeing our minds.

Once we free those minds, the rest will follow.

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, The Philadelphia Sunday SUN, the author’s organization, committee or other group or individual.

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