Human beings are creatures of comfort, aren’t we? We love it when our life circumstances feel comfortable, safe, and familiar. We’ve got a long list of reasons why we don’t want to give up what’s easy in exchange for what might be difficult even though science tells us that there’s great reward in that trade.
The comfort zone is a mental state where we feel safe, where we’re not being questioned. It’s life under a cozy blanket; we like it because nobody is challenging us, we avoid feeling anxious and life feels certain. Because it’s not enjoyable to feel uncertain or anxious, our mind tells us to stay put but what it doesn’t tell us is what we might be missing out on. Personal growth and having new experiences all require us to get uncomfortable before we can realize the reward.
The comfort zone is the great enemy of courage and confidence.
Why is it so hard for us to get out of our comfort zone and why should we bother? It’s so hard for us mostly because fear of the unknown can be enough to have us procrastinate. Uncertainty and procrastination are the stepbrothers of fear. Terms like I can’t, I’ve never done that, I’m not good at that or I’m not sure are all expressions of fear and uncertainty. It’s our mindset convincing us to avoid challenge or discomfort. The second part of the question is why should we bother pushing out of our comfort zone? Even though new encounters can feel unsafe, pursuing different experiences helps us learn about ourselves and about life. We expand our horizons and reinforce that we can do hard things. Ultimately, embracing new experiences whether they work out for us or not helps expand our comfort zone in the long run.
I’m an introvert who has developed skills that allow me to meet new people, speak in front of audiences in person and on television. It has been such a great education and I have certainly benefited from stepping outside of my comfort zone. I was once a person who feared her own shadow and by taking many courageous steps, I developed a confidence that still surprises me some days. In the process of learning more about myself, I’ve learned that most of us are afraid and while I have great empathy, I also know the joy that lives on the other side of fear, and I know that courage is the superpower to take us through.
Getting to know more about ourselves our likes, and dislikes, learning about different lifestyles, cultures, expanding our knowledge base in areas of interest or new topics all provide fuel for conversation, open new opportunities for connection and friendship, help develop our character and teach us how to manage fear.
“Fear feeds all the negative qualities that make you feel bad about yourself: doubt, self-hatred, and despair. Faith feeds all the positive qualities that make you feel good about yourself: self-confidence, self-love, and hope. When you choose faith over fear, you create a positive destiny for yourself.”
To switch out of our comfort zone we first must be willing to shift something. Notice I don’t use the word change here. No surprise that my brain doesn’t like change because just like you, I’m wired for safety. But if I say that I want to shift something, I can usually sneak under the radar and start implementing small alterations in my behaviour. Yes, micro shifts are where it’s at for me and I encourage you to resist getting overwhelmed by something new to you and take any small action. This way you’re demonstrating to yourself that growth is possible. This is a great place to start.
Get out of your comfort zone and bring comfort to others.
Do you have a list of things you’ve always wanted to do? If not, why not invest some time in creating that list because this activity signals to your brain that you’re interested in checking out some new experiences. Then select one thing on that list and research it by speaking with other people about it or exploring online. If you can, take one small step toward experiencing whatever that activity is even if it’s watching videos online about it. Our brain really doesn’t know the difference between a physical experience, a video experience, or an imagined experience. Enjoy playing around without pressuring yourself to do anything.
The road to success is always under construction.
Change your routine to get out of your comfort zone. Take an alternate route, order something new at your favourite eatery, try a different exercise. If you’re used to being alone, contact someone and ask them to meet for coffee. If you’re not used to writing notes, do that. If you’re not used to giving compliments, try it. If you’re not used to asking other people how they’re doing, do that. If you’ve never volunteered, why not give it a go? You have so much gold to offer this world and tending to your own personal growth creates a ripple effect. Your courage not only demonstrates what you’re capable of, which increases confidence; it also gives other people permission to stretch what’s possible for them. Let’s vow together to live without regret, to challenge any negative or limiting beliefs and to get out of our comfort zone so that we can live life fully, knowing that the best is yet to come.