Why getting out of our comfort-zone is the best thing we can do to train ourselves to challenge our abilities. Have you ever heard about the comfort-zone?
Behavioural Psychology says that the comfort-zone is that mental condition where everything is known, reassuring and makes us comfortable. We can define that as our bubble. Our little safe personal space where everything’s familiar because we know it like the palm of our hand. This bubble is familiar to us; otherwise it wouldn’t be called comfort-zone of course. When is time to pop this bubble? But, most importantly, why do we have to do that?
Because to stay inside our bubble it’s like to drive with the automatic pilot. Things pass by and we don’t really feel them because they become part of our routine and those new sensations never arrive. We often act like the comfort-zone is our safe place, our shelter, because it gives us the illusion of safety. We feel protected by all the bad things that are waiting for us on the outside, which threatens our tranquility. What happens when these things that are waiting for us are success and happiness?
The concept of comfort-zone was born with Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson, who discovered a mental state called Optimal Level of Anxiety. This state is where our stress levels are slightly over the normal and this pushes us to increase our productivity. Expressions like increase of productivity can sound like “do more stuff” right? But that’s not the point. That same expression is a paradox. In fact, I still have to find someone who is truly happy inside his comfort-zone. Why so many people are not happy if they live in their comfort-zone? Why do we still call it like that if it’s nothing more than living in chains? Wouldn’t it be better to call that discomfort-zone and define the outside as our freedom-zone?
I invite you to get out of your discomfort-zone and get in the freedom-zone, a place made of new possibilities. Where you can let go of your fears and get rid of your limitations, where you can challenge your perception of reality, change habits, learn something new, open up to the new, develop new talents. It’s not about being able to do more stuff during the day, but to get used to do something different than usual. What can we gain when we take even one single step outside the comfort, or rather, discomfort-zone?
We can manage the unexpected easier
The worse thing to do is to pretend that we don’t have any fears or uncertainties. By stepping out the comfort-zone with small steps we can actually train ourselves to face the unexpected situations in a contained environment.
It will be easier to push our limits in the future
Once we started this training, getting out of the comfort-zone will appear less strange over time, until our mind will think that it’s normal, so we’ll be more inclined to go a little further every time. Challenging ourselves also expands our comfort-zone. How? The things that seemed so difficult and so big at the beginning will start to become smaller and easier to face, until they’ll become so normal that they’ll be included in our comfort-zone. How can we train ourselves to face our fears? Here there are 3 things that we can do to overcome them.
1. Do something ordinary in a non-ordinary way
Change the usual route that you do to go back home from work, walk under the rain instead taking a bus. Eat or brush your teeth with the “wrong hand” (if you usually use the right one, switch to the left one and vice-versa), sit on a different chair during lunch.
2. Trust your guts
It happens often: our fears block us when we want to do something completely new or different. But sometimes, taking a different road only because our instinct tells us so can be exactly what we needed. Train yourself with small steps here too. When you have to make a choice just breathe, listen to yourself and just decide without spending so much time in a thousand possible scenarios and/or thinking over and over.
3. Believe in yourself
Last but not least. Everything that we do, we do it because we believe that we are capable of achieving it. So, the fundamental thought that we have to always keep in mind is “I can do this”. Even if one single person in the world was able to do that, why can’t we? Have you ever thought about stepping out of your comfort-zone?