How wide is your comfort zone? Is it static or changeable? What inspires change? Knowing the answers to such questions will reveal hidden aspects of yourself that sabotage progress and desired changes.
Let’s begin with what is a comfort zone? It is a state of being relaxed in a familiar, safe environment where you experience little stress, and are effortlessly in control.
Examples of staying in one’s comfort zone are not making effort to study or exercise, always doing things the same way, remaining in unhealthy, unsatisfactory work and personal relationships, catastrophizing about all that can go wrong if you do try something new, alienating people who challenge you, and undermining your abilities through negative self-talk when you don’t want to try something new and so on.
We are naturally drawn to the status quo and known. Seeking comfort or pleasure isn’t bad, in and of itself, but when it becomes the only acceptable or tolerable way of living it becomes a millstone around our necks. Society and marketing media also promote pleasure, fun, and comfort as must haves in our cars, homes, clothes, entertainment, recreation, and experiences.
If we subscribe to this notion of needing to always be comfortable, we’ll struggle when faced with discomfort. Fearful of encountering new circumstances, we will live circumscribed lives, constantly protecting ourselves from the things we believe we can’t deal with.
Life isn’t only about pleasure, comfort, and safety. From experience, we know that it is filled with moments of pain and pleasure, and highs and lows. It is impossible to participate in the full range of human experience by striving to remain always in our safe place.
The problem lies in our beliefs. We believe that when things aren’t going our way, our desires aren’t being met, or something we don’t want to have happen actually happens, that these are bad or wrong.
In reality, situations are neutral in nature. What we call bad or good is actually a mental projection that is wanting things to be a certain way. When things are going according to our wish, we love it and call it good. When things are going awry and contrary to our wish, we are unhappy and call it terrible. For instance, you are getting ready for work and you want to make coffee. You are running late, and the coffee maker doesn’t turn on, you are upset and call it a bad start to the day. On the day you are early, and the coffee maker doesn’t turn on, you calmly discover it hasn’t been plugged in. All's okay. Or say there's just one piece of cake left. If you are wanting it for yourself and your friend takes it, then he appears greedy. But if you aren't interested in the cake, and he takes it, then his action isn't good or bad. These are impartial scenarios, but based on the state of mind, it is experienced as good or bad.
To the extent that these feelings of liking and disliking rule our minds, we’ll be comfortable or uncomfortable with our life circumstances. Our minds are the key to our happiness, sense of peace, joy, freedom, adventurousness, and feeling of security.
Living always within our comfort zone denies us the opportunity to achieve our goals and make necessary changes in life. Try out these mental strategies in advance:
Take small steps towards moving out of your safe place.
May you stretch your wings to fly free.