What is your comfort zone?
We all have a comfort zone.
A set of behaviors and habits that we naturally gravitate back to when we might get a little stressed, tired, scared, angry, lost, bored or fearful. Or happy. Basically, when we feel strong emotions.
It’s also a mindset that keeps us safe and comfortable. And a space where we’ve set up boundaries and limitations on ourselves. With strongly held beliefs and thoughts that justify why we do the things we do.
There is even a vivid memory, one that can quickly recall all those past experiences and words that justify why you feel the way you do. Why you believe the things you do. And why this is a safe little box for you to stay in.
There is little stress here and there is none of that icky ‘vulnerability’ to be felt.
It’s not even hard to get into your comfort zone. In fact, it’s nice and easy and effortless. Blissful even.
Sounds great right?
Well it is, if you don’t want change, to grow or new experiences and opportunities…..
What are some examples of a comfort zone?
While your comfort zone is a mental state, you usually will see it manifest in certain actions and behaviors that you do, often unconsciously. And it’s important you become self aware of your own comfort zone so that you can grow and succeed in life.
Some examples of your comfort zone might include habits that you engage in (whether good of bad) or certain behaviors, such as:
- Your relationship with food, alcohol or any other substance,
- Not speaking up at work,
- Your beliefs and thought patterns,
- Not applying for that job that you really want,
- Not trying something you’re interested in,
- Being scared of taking action,
- Wanting things to stay the same,
- Sleeping too much,
- Keeping to yourself too much,
- Going along with what your friends/family want all the time,
- Sticking to routines that don’t serve you,
- Social media addiction,
- Saying ‘yes’ too much,
- Saying ‘no’ to much,
- Feeling like you’re stuck
Why should I step out of my comfort zone?
A comfort zone has a valuable place in our lives and can alleviate stress and allows the ability to self-soothe emotions (when done in a positive manner).
But it can also limit us from experiencing all that life has to offer and all that we are capable of. It craves familiarity and equilibrium, which is why things feel safe and comfortable to us. We have been here before. We know what to expect.
However, living inside these boundaries can limit your life in significant ways that can eventually lead to your lack of success or inability to feel genuinely happy. When you live solely within your comfort zone, here are some of the adverse effects this can have on your life:
You Limit Yourself
When you always stay in your comfort zone, you are limited by what is familiar and known, which means you rarely try new things or take chances. Without learning and growth, humans can become stagnant and unfulfilled.
You Stop Seeing Opportunities
When you are bound by the limits of your comfort zone, the possibilities that the world has to offer become much more limited and fixed. Innovation, challenge, and risk live outside of what is currently known to you, so without pushing the boundaries of your comfort, you will miss out on experiences and opportunities that could change your life for the better.
You Increase Your Fears
We all have fears. But did you know that by avoiding things that you fear so much, actually leads to more of it? The fear grows and becomes a mammoth burden to you.
Whether its fear of failure, change, or the unknown, living in fear produces anxiety and stress. And the more you give in to this fear, the more it continues to limit and control you.
To remain mentally healthy, our brains need to expand and grow throughout our lives. When we stop learning and become stagnant, we are more likely to experience neurodegeneration and to succumb to the effects of aging faster. Expanding your comfort zone throughout your life can help your brain retain the neuroplasticity that keeps it strong and robust into your later years.
You Confidence Takes a Hit
When you learn something new or develop yourself, you actually boost your self-confidence. The more you learn and build your own competence, the more confident you will feel in your own ability to achieve goals and overcome challenges.
Learning new things can help you manage your fears about the unknown when you realize you have the strength and skills to get through challenging times.
How to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Your comfort zone is the bubble that surrounds your subconscious, the one that you love to remain inside because everything is knowable and safe. When you try to push beyond the edges of this boundary, your mind pushes back because it craves your familiar routine.
It’s hard, messy and icky.
But outside of that familiar zone however, is where the learning and evolution happens. The magic even.
If you’re ready to start expanding that comfort zone, even a little – check out the following ideas to get you started:
Try Something Creative
Creative endeavors are fun, provide you with opportunities for expressing yourself and your emotions, and give you the chance to try something new in a low-stakes way. So what if your new creation turns out rubbish? It’s just for fun, and it can help expand your tolerance for mistakes and learning new things.
Freshen Up Your ‘Look’
Do you have a ‘uniform’? A way of dressing that is comfortable, but stale and a little boring? Even if it’s not totally terrible, try experimenting with your look to find ways of showing your true self through your clothing, makeup, hairstyle, or other aspects of your appearance. If you decide you do not really like it, you can always go back to your old look.
Writing about your personal boundaries, limitations and beliefs about how the world operates and your place in it is a great start. Consider the barriers you impose upon yourself.
Journaling improves your self-awareness, and until you are aware of the ways you are limiting your thinking, it is impossible to know how to expand your perspectives.
Write about what you want to have and experience in life, what’s keeping you from obtaining these and really explore the reasoning behind these thoughts.
Change Up Your Daily Routine
Mixing up how you do things every day can help you get more comfortable with change and give you some easy and low-risk ways to expand your thinking.
Take a 30 day challenge, try a different routes to work, try a new recipe, watch a new movie from a completely different genre or try a new hobby. Anything to shake up your usual routine will be helpful to stepping out of your comfort zone.
Why is change so scary for so many of us? What is it about leaving our comfort zone and changing our lives that is so frightening? When you are in your comfort zone, everything is known, safe, and secure. But leaving that area and doing things that are new and different raises anxiety and tension because we do not know what is going to happen. We can’t always see the outcome or the consequences, which is why we start to fear it.
Most of the time, sticking to our comfort zone results in turning down a lot of invitations, suggestions, or opportunities because we are unsure of the outcomes.
Decide to say “yes” to everything that comes your way for a specific period. For some people, they can go all out and do this for a month while others ease in by trying it for a shorter period, like a day or a week at a time.
The aim is to embrace all opportunities that come your way and learn from the experiences you have – you never know what opportunities are presented to you!
Look For a Mentor
Look for people in your life who can push forward despite their challenges, who embrace life and all its possibilities. What can you learn from them? What strategies can they teach you for learning to embrace life and to step outside your comfort zone?
Remember Your Why
When your resolve starts to wane (and it will), and you begin seeking comfort in your old, comfortable ways, remember why you chose to expand your comfort zone and why it’s important to you. Keeping your focus on this can help boost your motivation and enable you to stick with it when things feel scary.
How do you learn to deal with the fear of leaving your comfort zone? Or have you in the past? While putting yourself out there and overcoming your concern is not always easy, the results are well worth it!