When you hear the words “comfort zone” what do you think of? Warm and cozy blankets? Delicious filling meals? Or maybe the embrace of a loved one. Comfort zone to most may mean safety or feeling secure. Depending on your views in various contexts, comfort zone can be taboo.
And considered to be one of the biggest hindrances in terms of personal growth or development of any kind. Astonishingly enough remaining in a comfort zone can prevent us from living a life that we desire. As well as prevent us from fulfilling our dreams.
Living inside the Bubble
In a lot of ways each person’s “comfort zone” is the mind’s way of “protecting” itself. Kinda like our own personal mental bubble. It is the mental picture and concept of what your mind thinks you can or can not accomplish. Weird right? The mind quickly makes an assessment on virtually EVERYTHING based on past experiences and/or assumptions. So even before we take a step, the mind has decided yea or nah.
There are times when we take steps to do things where there is no past “experience” to draw from. In those moments, we leave our comfort zone because we do not know what to expect. A great example of this would be public speaking. For the average person who doesn’t speak publicly, this would be a huge step outside of their comfort zone. First, they have no experience to pull from. Mentally their mind has no idea if they can or can not do it, which is why most people who never have spoken in front of a crowd will shy away from the opportunity to do so.
No matter how big or small, any experience that is not your own is potentially outside of your comfort zone. The magic of personal growth and personal development truly happens right outside of your little comfort zone bubble. Without taking steps to push past comfort zones we put limits on the many possibilities for our lives. It’s like basically saying “No” before the question is even asked.
How do we step outside the comfort zone bubble?
Stepping outside of a comfort zone is all about shaking things up and taking steps that you wouldn’t normally take. It’s totally about finding your edge. Acknowledging that edge and pushing a tad bit past it, then a tad bit more. Expanding your level of comfort little bit by little bit and continuously growing within yourself along the way.
Where do you even start?
Where to begin is one of the most challenging parts of pushing past comfort zones. Often times in a rush to skip through the uncomfortable parts one may dive in a bit farther than needed. Start small. Take baby steps and continue to build from there, keep in mind simple to complex. Here are some great tips that I use to get out of my own comfort zone.
1. Rational Thinking
Easier said than done right? In most cases we prevent ourselves from taking steps forward because we have already had a conversation in our own heads talking ourselves out of those steps. Taking that moment to pause + take inventory of our thoughts and fears is key. Is the fear or the feeling of uneasiness rational and based on facts? Or are our feelings based on “influence” i.e. something we have heard or seen to fuel that fear.
2. Small steps
Set yourself up for success. Since comfort zones are based off of past experiences and assumptions, taking small steps can ensure success. Taking too large of steps will result in you running back to the comfort zone. For example if you have a fear of dogs, you wouldn’t just roll up to a dog park. Instead you might visit a more controlled location such as a shelter or Pet shop. Ease your way outside of where you feel comfortable. (simple to complex)
3. Implement (1 at a time)
This is so very important and goes hand in hand with small steps. It is awesome to have ambitions and want to do all the things at once. But remember setting yourself up for success? For long term growth, making too many changes at one time can scatter your focus. A scattered focus has the potential to be a gateway to a possible set back. Don’t bite off more changes than you can chew or confidentially pursue. Expanding your comfort zone isn’t something that you want to force to be successful. It is truly something you want to grow within. Establish those simple changes first and build on those.
Be open about what you want to do and the changes you want to achieve. There is no reason to push through comfort zones alone! Get an accountability partner and/or the support of people who want to help you succeed. Like with anything in this life, it truly takes a village and a support system to reach results. You would be surprised at how many people in your life want to see you succeed! Be open and honest about what you need to reach your goal.
This is a technology age! Use tools to help you stay on track and stay motivated. Tools such as lists, journals, and social media can not only ease you to your goal but also help track progress. Tools are a wonderful way to also see how far you have come. Track where you started on your journey. Anytime you need a little bit of encouragement take a look back at where you started.
Trying new things are tough and down right hard. Understanding that sometimes even with baby steps there may be a set back. Don’t let setbacks get you down or make you give up. Take any potential setback as part of your “experience” belt and try again with a different approach.
7. Ignoring resistance
With all new things there will be people in your corner cheering you on and in the same breath there may be people who don’t quite understand what you are doing, and that’s ok. Do not allow someone who doesn’t understand prevent you from taking the steps towards your goal and personal growth. Sometimes in these instances we have to be our own cheerleader and add affirmations of positive self talk to help push us forward.
As with all things stepping outside of where you find comfort can be very scary! Truth be told sometimes the very best things that can happen to us, are right outside of that comfort zone. The best and most meaningful experiences can happen when we are uncomfortable. The only way to grow is to test your limits and to keep pushing the limits.
What are some things that you want to push outside your comfort zone?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Denawa Alberti of Sittin’ Crooked Talkin’ Straight is a mindfulness blogger from the Carolinas. She helps to motivate, inspire and challenge people to live the life they desire through mindful living, self care and tons of personal growth. By posting encouraging content she hopes to ignite people to take charge of their lives and go after their dreams.