I just returned from a three-week trip
to northern Spain and Portugal. Every day, every minute, I was living outside
my comfort zone. Granted, I was having a fabulous time, given that I was
encountering new people, places and things, learning about new cultures, food,
and different ways of living life.
Yet, it took me time to adjust and
modify behavior and thought from city to city. The most uncomfortable moments
came with food. I didn’t like the food (I am a plant-based eater), and I
dreaded dinners. But I coped and smiled as my fellow travelers gushed over the
Travel isn’t easy. Every hotel room
was different. Bus rides from city to city were tiring. Simple movements
like walking and standing provided some discomfort. But we all moved past our
comfort zones and explored an exciting and inspiring part of the world.
If you have ever gone on a blind date,
you’ve been outside your comfort zone. If you’ve ever walked into a happy hour
where you don’t know a soul, you’ve been outside your comfort zone.
If you’ve attended an academic class
that was outside your learning experience (that would be a math class for me),
you’ve been outside your comfort zone. Just think how stressful it is to learn
new technology. Most of us are way out of our comfort zones in that arena.
We all have fears that stop us from
stepping into our potential, into a new and different level of personal
expectations. The comfort zone is a place where fear is minimized so that we
can function at an acceptable level in our daily lives.
However, acceptable can put us to
sleep mentally, physically, emotionally, and socially. We develop a level of
reaction that can flatline and energy depravation takes over. I’ve had
introverted boyfriends that never adjusted to new and different social
situations. It was painful and our relationship never grew.
a different view!
What You Give Up for the Sake of Comfort
You don’t always realize how much you
give up for the sake of comfort. In fact, dedicating your life to the comfort
zone is overrated. Instead of plunging into an exciting life experience, you
retreat, step back, or run from what can be a transformative moment.
In an effort to minimize your greatest
fears, you can be sacrificing your heart’s deepest desires. In the name of
comfort, you sacrifice potential.
Most great motivational speakers talk
about confronting your deepest fears. Yet, this is precisely where life begins
to take on meaningful experiences as you start the process of transformation.
Easier said than done.
Moving through our fears takes
courage. It might include risk. You could encounter limitations, become intimidated,
and start to retreat, instead of embracing your human potential.
Breaking Free of Fears
The following are 3 ways to manage
life outside your comfort zone.
Struggle Is Overrated
Most days are filled with stress as
you encounter a myriad of individual inconveniences. Some of these
inconveniences turn into struggles. They get more complicated with time and
negativity settles into your unconscious with a vengeance.
When I taught yoga, I would always
give the following mantra to my students: Struggle is overrated. When
you struggle, you encounter your ego, and that ego gets in the way of staying
present, and being present helps you to feel comfortable in any
Yesterday, I spent almost 18 hours
trying to download an operating system for my computer and failed. I was devastated.
It turned into a battle with myself. It should have worked. I did exactly what
was told me. And yet, the rules of the tech game failed me.
In my mind, I failed, too, because I
was operating under the delusion that I was using a Mac product, but because I was
out of my comfort zone and not present, I was actually using a PC product.
Obviously, I was far from present. Struggle had won the day.
But struggle is ubiquitous.
I took a walk today, concluding that
everything we encounter probably takes us out of our comfort zone in one way or
The idea is that most struggle comes
from a limited belief system. You want to be expressive, but your mental
functions are limited. Your ego says: It’s risky or dangerous. You’ll be
rejected, or criticized, or you will fail.
The struggle is between an ego that
does not want to expand your mental boundaries and the unleashed desire for
potential. You can’t blame the ego. It’s the job of the ego to keep you safe
and that doesn’t correspond to reaching your full potential, which is
Look for the Opportunity
One of my closest friends once said to
me, “Behind every door, there is an opportunity. But to get to the
opportunity, you must understand the possibilities.”
This is when imagination takes over
and change becomes a reality. This is when you begin to see beyond your comfort
zone. You can dare to be comfortable outside the familiar.
Imagine what your life would feel like
if you decided to exercise every morning no matter the weather. You will begin
to see changes that are pleasing. You will begin to see different, more
pleasant results from your actions. It is then you are making choices from
outside your comfort zone.
You grow stale by making decisions
inside your comfort zone. Sometimes you don’t like your choices. They are
repetitive and uninspiring. In effect, you create a kind of been there, done
Different results require doing things
differently. That’s what makes life exciting, new, and inspiring. You begin to
realize that the comfort zone is a mental and emotional trap that perpetuates
limited thoughts and feelings daily, weekly, and monthly.
Take a risk and go outside
your comfort zone and discover beliefs and ideas that are new to your
Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
Anyone who has ever accomplished
anything great has done so with the element of risk – not necessarily physical or emotional
danger, but a risk that makes the ego concerned.
If the ego doesn’t know how to deal
with new situations based on new beliefs, then the prognosis for change and growth
is overtly negative.
For some people, the idea of doing
something they haven’t done before can be daunting. They might lose control,
find themselves in a negative or compromising situation, have their feelings
hurt, or any number of uncomfortable reactions.
Sure, it is a risk. But the real risk
is to maintain the status quo, and that means no human growth. The results are
unhappiness or worse, depression.
When life gets uncomfortable, smile,
laugh, find humor, express your truth, project your personality, and go for
it because what have you got to lose? Nothing.
Regroup your belief systems, re-stage
your life, re-orient your mind set. Travel, be curious, be bold. Search for
more exciting possibilities and let your new potential shine through.
kind of techniques do you use to manage your emotions when you step outside
your comfort zone? What is your least favorite “outside your comfort
zone” experience? Please share your stories with the community!