In life, we are constantly faced with situations when we need to change something or even just do something unusual and new, but the fear of the unknown often prevents us from acting. Our inner voice begins to convince us that everything is not so bad, and who knows if it will be good if we start to change our lives. There are internal borders within which we feel safe only because everything is familiar and familiar. It is this inner framework that forces us to hold on to relationships that have outlived themselves, to work that does not bring us satisfaction, and even to our habitual way of thinking. These internal frames form our comfort zone.
Comfort zone – the area of living space that gives a sense of comfort and security. As a rule, the comfort zone is determined by habitual patterns of behavior, and what you are used to, you are comfortable with. An established world where everything is familiar, stable, and predictable.
Simply put, this is a state in which you feel “at ease”. It would seem that what is wrong with comfort and security? Nothing, except that they make it very difficult to develop and learn new things.
Any training involves going beyond the comfort zone.
Outside of the comfort zone is the risk zone. A reasonable exit from the comfort zone to the risk zone is a necessary condition for personal development.
As a rule, the younger a person is, the easier and more willing they are to expand their comfort zone. When a healthy person lingers for a long time in the comfort zone and does not make any effort to leave this zone and expand its boundaries, then his development stops, passing into the degradation of the personality.
First, we need to figure out exactly how we can understand that we are stuck in the comfort zone. You can understand this by your reaction to any new situation that we encounter or even just think about it. The first reaction is likely to be fear. The reaction to the news can be completely different (excitement, curiosity, interest, concern), but it is fear that is a destructive feeling and an indicator that you do not want to leave your comfort zone. Further, based on this fear, the person stuck in the comfort zone can choose several behaviors: “run and hide”, ignore, protest, resist, and try to prevent changes, while the path leading to the expansion of the comfort zone involves acceptance and adaptation.
“Life begins where the comfort zone ends” – Neil Walsh
The most important condition for getting out of the comfort zone can be considered the awareness that we are stuck in it. Without admitting to ourselves that we are stuck in a comfort zone, we can’t get anywhere. It is very important to accept the idea that we are stuck here and that we need to break out of the current situation by defining the area of the comfort zone. This is our work, our business, our established but not satisfying relationships, the city, the apartment where we live – all this can be our comfort zone, which we are no longer satisfied with, but we are afraid of change and do nothing to change our lives.
Bear in a tight cage
In one small zoo, a bear was kept in a tight cage for a long time, so that it could only take 4 steps to one side, turn around and take 4 steps back. So he walked all day in and out of the cage. Visitors felt sorry for the bear and said: “how happy it would probably be if it managed to get free.” As time went on, the zoo began to be repaired, and all the animals were given large, spacious enclosures. There was a lot of greenery in them, and even a swimming pool in the bear’s enclosure. Zookeepers were anticipating how happy the huge animal would be when it was transferred from a cramped cage to a spacious enclosure. And now the long-awaited day has arrived. The bear was moved to a tiny cage for transportation and taken to a new location. Even being in a transport cage, the bear managed to do its mandatory 4 steps back and forth. Finally, he was released into a new spacious enclosure. The bear looked around, took a cautious step, then another, then a third, then a fourth… And then he turned and took 4 steps back again. He could not understand that the bars of the cage that restricted his freedom now existed only in his imagination. But these bars in the beast’s memory were stronger than the real ones. So the bear still walks in a huge enclosure: 4 steps there and 4 steps back.
This is why the stage of realizing that borders exist is so important.
Realizing that we are stuck in a comfort zone, we need to act.
A few steps to get out of your comfort zone.
1. The first step to overcoming the internal borders will be a problem. In other words, we will determine what we want to achieve and what results we want to achieve.
Let’s say we realized that we are uncomfortable or afraid to meet new people. Accordingly, our task will be to get acquainted as much as possible and more often, in order to make this process familiar, and therefore comfortable.
2. The Next stage is to formulate the scope of the planned result. The volume of the planned result-the specifics of how much and what I plan to get by a certain date based on the results of work, or other obligations in working on myself. Prescribing specific steps to achieve it.
How do we know we’ve expanded our comfort zone? It is clear that the criterion will be calm when making acquaintances, but this state does not lend itself to “weighing”. Therefore, in our case, we will define the OSR as a specific number of acquaintances for a month of work to get out of the comfort zone. And let’s figure out what specific number of people we expect to include in the plan for each day. It is worth noting that it is necessary to gradually increase their number within reasonable limits. Will the planned number of acquaintances lead to a comfortable state? Even if not completely, in any case, progress will be evident.
The main trick, in this case, is that by switching the focus of attention from the state to the specific work of getting out of the comfort zone, we will work out the desired state. The state of comfort will not come by itself, it requires specific work.
3. The work involves the systematic passage of the planned steps. We have planned certain actions for each day, and now our task is to carry them out. It is optimal to write daily reports on the work done, analyzing the results and progress.
4. The Problem with getting out of your comfort zone is that people often try to jump straight to the level they want to reach. This may work for some people, but for most, it will only make them stay in their comfort zone, even if it’s just because of the anxiety that comes from trying to “bite off more than they can chew.” It is the gradual development and build-up that will lead to the adaptation of the new zone. And you need to understand that passing the stages will take some time. It is impossible to immediately get used to the new extended zone. We remember that it takes 21 days to establish a new habit. In fact, learning a new habit is also an extension of your comfort zone.
If we don’t make sure that we feel comfortable with an ever-increasing volume, we run a high risk of destroying the results of all our work. Therefore, every stage and every step at this stage should be comfortable.
5. Finally, the fifth step is the full development of the new territory. Achieving the volume of the planned result. This is actually our new comfort zone.
“My fear of something usually means I have to do it” – Madonna
In addition to expanding the comfort zone in a particular area where we have realized the need to do so, we believe it is very important to develop the habit of leaving the comfort zone in any situation. To do this, you need to learn how to remove fear when meeting a new one. We offer “simulators” for developing this habit.
- Change the usual little things. You can try to go to work on a different road, change your usual daily routine, or go to the store that is not on the way, but to the one on the other street, buy unusual food.
- Meet someone. This is a very good way to get out of your comfort zone. It doesn’t matter where or how, as long as the person is new to you.
- Find courses or training or clubs that you were interested in, but for some reason (and we already know why) you refused to go there.
- Learn what you once wanted to be able to do. Play the balalaika, make rolls, cross stitch-all these are great simulators for expanding your comfort zone.
- Read a book, watch a movie, or listen to music in an unfamiliar genre.
- Go on an unplanned trip. Don’t plan anything, solve everything on the go. You can get a lot of impressions and precisely expand your comfort zone.
- Go to a new unusual place. To an unfamiliar restaurant and better than the cuisine I still don’t know.
- Dress differently. If you are a girl who is not used to wearing dresses, buy and wear them. Unusual colors, styles, and new brands-all this is also in our piggy Bank of simulators. If you are a guy who went only in t-shirts and jeans, dress in classics (beautiful shoes, expensive trousers, a stylish light jacket with a bright tie or scarf). Well, at least wear a shirt instead of an – shirt-for a start, and that’s good.
- Rearrange the furniture. Take a fresh look at your room and try to arrange at least a small rearrangement.
- Sit on a bus with an unknown route number.
In conclusion, it is a beautiful metaphor that fully illustrates our behavior when we cling to our comfort zone or, as in this case, to our habitual perception of the world.
“Imagine that you are in a tank. You go forward in life, watching everything that happens in a narrow viewing slot. The very fact that you are a tankman, already says that life for you is war. At the same time, you can see through the gap that people are walking around. Just walk. Not to fight. They fall in love, quarrel, work, are lazy, relax, read… What do these people look like from a tank? Like fools, right? What if there’s a sniper on the roof? Or the infantry to attack? What will they do on their shirts with flowers painted on them?! So it’s better to be in a tank. Yes, it’s hot. Yes, it shakes. Yes, it’s a little tight, but no sniper can reach it! It’s only a matter of time before they’re gone. And time, by the way, passes, and the tankman ends his life path and did not have time to start it. Really? Some, at the end of life, when there is nothing to lose, still gather the courage to look out of the hatch, but since there is still no time, they dive back into their tank. It’s more familiar…
And after all, how much is there, behind the reliable armor! Yes, it’s unusual. Yes, it is terrible. Yes, everything inside screams-you can’t! But you must. Why do I need it? Why should I? Because… well, it’s kind of a pity to spend such a cool life in a tank. Why should I? Because there, behind the armor-INTERESTING!»