Comfort Zone: Getting Comfortable with the Un-Comfortable

Each one of us is wired uniquely.

On observing and analyzing scores of patterns of human behavior, I can see shades of these behaviors/ actions for a given particular situation. For e.g. some people can present, converse and behave affably and are easy going with friends, family or social circles but, when it comes to interaction with the outer ‘unknown’ world they are totally in chaos, dilemma and feel uncomfortable. There are people who turn ferocious like lions once they leave their personal space like house, while others unfold into wilderness within their personal space. Also some might on up while on a vacation and after returning to the mundane daily chores of life, one might wonder is this the same person on the vacation? Also, in the professional world, some put out their best performances once they get to know everything that is around, work hard and build a mental physical space for themselves. Whereas for some a totally new environment of challenges and ad-hoc situations might bring out their best.

This means, psychologically there is a well designated space of ‘Comfort’ for each human being where the person’s activities and behaviors fit a routine pattern and give them a desired level of performance. Also, it gives a sense of mental, physical and psychological security, feeling of minimum risk, stress and anxiety; and a dose of regular happiness. Depending on person to person ‘comfort zone’ can include people, places, ambience, weather, past memories, and so on.

On the contrary, for each one of us, some of these factors or the other fall outside our comfort zone i.e. we feel uncomfortable and heavy hearted around them. If we think shallowly, one may not even realize their discomfort being portrayed through their body language. It all happens automatically and subconsciously. We are acting and reacting to these factors involuntarily and subconsciously.

Thus the heaps of question arises on, what is it that makes each one of us behave in our own particular way for a given certain situation? Why and how does things get out of our comfort zone? So, what if things are outside our comfort zone? Are comfort zones same for all? What is your own comfort zone zone? Can comfort zones be changed? How to get out of comfort zone?

I feel, the events that happen with/ around us make a deep impact on our well being including the mind, body and soul. There can be seeds of issues sown in our minds. If it gets fed by the fertilizer of negativity and negative thoughts, the seed soon turns into a tree before anyone realizes. Once this tree of insecurity grows, the things related to it automatically fall outside our comfort zone, before we even realize it. This might be one of the reasons. Other causes might include childhood phobias, our imagination and prejudiced set of minds.

When a particular circumstance lies in our comfort zone our mind is stress-free and calm, hence it results in a steady level of performance. The performance thus achieved, is up to a certain level only. However, anyone who has accomplished something will agree that when our mind faces a relatively higher level of anxiety than normal it can provide higher level of performance. Challenging yourself can reward amazing results. But, too much stress again can spoil our performance. It can be said that performance and anxiety follows a Normal Distribution Curve.

Creating a comfort zone involves not only our mind but we put your heart into it. So, it is human’s natural tendency to come back to comfortable state. Crossing the borders of comfort zone can reap benefits.

If this occurs a simple and straightforward task, you might be surprised to know this can get quite tough. To self realize, search and analyze your comfort zone can get daunting. It requires a high level of self realization. Many of us might not be even aware of this compartment of comfort zone in our minds. Even if we are aware, many might not have pondered enough over it or don’t have time for it.

Firstly, it is important to understand that comfort zone is not a bad or good thing. It is a state of mind. And it is a natural state of mind that most people trend towards. So, when one leaves comfort zone it becomes important to understand that it can have positive as well as negative results. On the positive side, leaving comfort zone can result in:-

  • Increased mental productivity
  • Sense of accomplishment and boosts self confidence
  • Helps pushing limits and expanding horizons
  • Improves self-awareness and Increases the power of acceptance in us
  • Provokes to be honest with ourselves, face our fears and hence grow.
  • Run into new opportunities, experience things which we never tried before and thus enjoy life to the fullest

Once we decide to leave the comfort zone, before jumping into it, it is important to understand that, each one of us have different comfort zone as mentioned in the beginning. What constitutes comfort zone for one might be paralyzing for another.

Hence, before trying to change our comfort zone, we must start by searching and analyzing our comfort zone. Finding out what lies within and beyond our comfort zone. Asking oneself myriad of questions to figure out what and why certain things makes us afraid or uncomfortable. If we think over it consciously, we might come to know the things which we haven’t embraced with open heart. We can find out the reasons behind it, our hidden fears, anxieties and obliterate them. What will we achieve with such efforts? You might come across answers that you never knew existed.

Personally, I had a childhood phobia of playing Holi (festival of playing with colors in India). I used to hide away during the festival. But, as I grew up I decided to face my fears and I started attending the function and eventually enjoyed playing with colors.

During my childhood, one of my friend used to imperatively hate to attend some social functions. During these functions, she used to be reserved, not socialize and speak only when asked to. But, eventually as she grew up she opened up to people and started enjoying with them. After gauging and researching the reasons behind her behavior, it could be concluded that she invariably felt insecure and less confidence about herself thinking people would be judging her. It was an act of self defense. Another reason revealed was, in her childhood her parents habitually criticized her, which largely affected her confidence level leaving her prone to insecurity. So, she decided to confront them and stepped out of her comfort zone.

Also, Arjun (Character from Indian mythology epic — Mahabharata) was supposed to fight against his brothers on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. But, he was not comfortable killing his cousins. But, Lord Krishna preached him to move out of his comfort zone as it was Arjun’s duty to fight on the battlefield.

We can move out of our comfort zone by taking baby steps and making small changes in our life.

  • Choose to perform everyday activities using a new approach
  • Take roads never traveled before
  • Explore the unknown in the known
  • Take time in making decisions (If you usually take snap decisions)
  • Take snap decisions (If you usually take time making decisions)

Understand your pace for longevity. Once again, each of us have different comfort zones. It all comes down to interests, hobbies, choices.

Equally it is necessary to return to our comfort zone from time to time. process your experiences. One does not want the new and interesting things to become mundane and boring.

In conclusion to all this is that it is quintessential for all of us to step out of your comfort zone frequently and repeatedly in order to gain new experience, new perspectives and new insights. It is a cyclic process to continuous personal growth. Also, try to keep a notebook with you all the time, so you can capture inspired thoughts, beliefs and ideas). Let your horizons expand. Take time to reflect on your experiences so you can reap the benefits and apply them to your day to day activities.

Hence, as we grow and time changes, so will our boundaries on the maps of our comfort zones. Keep exploring what you are really capable of, bring back as much as you can carry from those inspired, creative, productive and slightly uncomfortable moments when you do. Relax. Life will keep taking turns and twists sometimes as per your plan, sometimes not. But, one thing we can choose and control is the meaning we give the events in our life. When we fear and yet keep going it means we are moving out of our comfort zone and hence, growing!

What is your comfort zone? What are your experiences of moving out of comfort zone? What did you gain and find out about yourself, you never knew existed? Do share your experiences in the comments section below. If you have any suggestions and comments don’t forget to mention them below.

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Did you ever wonder how knowing your comfort zone and moving out of it forms a process cycle. Know and follow the ‘Comfort Zone Cycle’ to expand your horizons and keep growing!