Humans are creatures of habit. While we might sit around and chat about doing exciting things, wanting to live life on the edge, we really want stability. No change. Nothing new. We want to stay in our comfort zone.
Our comfort zone is where we feel in control. We know how things work, and have tried and true habits. This isn’t a bad thing. You might have great habits; brushing your teeth after every meal, not leaving clothes on the floor and putting the milk back in the fridge after you’re finished with it.
Feeling Safe in Our Comfort Zone
The comfort zone is where we find stability and feel safe. It’s our anchor in life. Let’s face it, who wants to live in a world where everything changes from day to day and we never know what’s going to happen next. Some things will always be beyond our control but the comfort zone is a place of security and safety.
Our comfort zone is low risk. And that’s why we like it. But it’s also low reward. We don’t grow or learn anything by staying within our comfort zone all the time. To do that, we need do something new. We need to make a change.
Change is what we need to grow. But change can be hard. It takes us out of our comfort zone, which is, well, uncomfortable. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a big change such as considering a new job or career direction. Or something smaller, such as deciding to go somewhere new for lunch. There is risk in doing something new.
Fear of the Unknown
What makes change uncomfortable is fear of the unknown. What if you don’t like the new restaurant? Or you’re not good at the new job? Of course, the risks in these two situations are not the same, however, the feeling or concerns for not doing either one are similar. One of the most common fears people have is speaking in front of an audience. It’s this fear, whether it be fear of the unknown or fear of failure that makes it so uncomfortable for a lot of us.
Think to being back in school. You’re in class and a question pops into your head. It’s a good question. You wait for your chance to ask it. As time goes by, though, you wonder if it’s such a good question after all. You try answering it yourself in your head. You then come to the conclusion it’s a stupid question. And no way do you want to look like a fool so you’re not going to ask that question now.
The same goes for any change. Because it’s uncomfortable, we try to resist it. We come up with reasons why it might not be such a good idea after all. You might not like the food in the new restaurant. The lighting is too low. It may be too expensive. After a few thoughts like this, you’re back at your regular place to eat.
Masters of Talking Ourselves out of Change
When it comes to getting out of our comfort zone, we’re masters of talking ourselves out of change.
This also happens when we try to make changes in our lifestyle. Whether it’s starting a new diet, getting to bed earlier or quitting smoking, we look for reasons not to do it. It won’t taste good. You’re just going to watch one more episode on Netflix. All your friends smoke. The list goes on. And while a lot of these reasons make sense, they’re really not at the core of why we resist change.
Say you want to get up a half hour earlier each day to exercise. The first morning the alarm goes off. You feel tired and it’s dark outside. You tell yourself you just need a few more minutes in bed, then you’ll get up. In no time, you’ve hit the snooze button twice more and now you have to go to work. You tell yourself you’ll start tomorrow.
Leaving the Comfort Zone
All of this is normal. We’ve all been there numerous times. But we need to realize that getting out of our comfort zone is good for us. It makes life exciting. It’s healthy. Doing the same thing all the time can get monotonous and leave us stale, both in body and mind. People who embrace change continue to grow and have a youthful vigor about them.
This doesn’t mean making drastic changes in all aspects of your life. That wouldn’t work either because we do need that comfort zone to provide our anchor.
Starting something new isn’t easy. It takes courage. But the rewards are well worth it. And once you’ve made that change and have been regularly exercising or working on that new diet for a few weeks, it actually becomes part of your comfort zone. In essence, you’ve expanded your comfort zone and in growing it, you’ve grown as well.
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