The other day I was thinking about those psychological barriers we put on ourselves called comfort zones. Those areas or events which we feel good when we are there. The comfort zone is our safe place. It is where we feel warm and fuzzy. Nothing can happen to us when we are in our comfort zone.
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Your Comfort Zone
For most people, their comfort zone is their home. You feel safe and comfortable inside your home. You can control what goes on there. On the other hand, if you leave your home, you lose control. When you walk into a building you have never been inside, you can feel nervous and uneasy. That warm and fuzzy feeling inside is no longer there. Your senses are heightened because you are outside of your comfort zone.
You create your comfort zone in your mind. It is a mental boundary you have created based on your past experiences. Everyone has a different one. Some are small, and some are quite extensive. Some people are only comfortable inside their homes, but not everyone. If they relate their home to previous bad experiences, it will not be comfortable for them.
Your brain is designed for survival and to keep you safe. It creates these boundaries based on your experiences. Negative experiences as a child manifest as fear. Those experiences would become fearful to you and would be outside of your comfort zone.
That is all your comfort zone is, boundaries. Your mind has created these boundaries to avoid the fear that you manifested. You are born with only two fears. The fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. All other fears you manifest and all fears can be controlled.
If you decide to expand your comfort zone, it is a painful process. You have to overcome years of boundaries formed in your mind. Your fears will have to be faced, but you can do it. An excellent way to describe your comfort zone is to think about a dog and an electric fence.
When my wife and I were in Colorado, I noticed our friends’ neighborhood had no fences to separate the properties. In Florida, almost everyone builds fences around their property. I inquired as to why they did not build fences. The reason is that they have herds of elk, deer, and even the occasional bear wandering through the neighborhood. Therefore, the HOA outlawed fences.
Our friends have two large dogs, so they put an underground electric fence as a boundary. The dogs can run around the yard, but if they try to leave they get a mild electric shock. This teaches them how far they can go. Inside the underground fence is the dog’s comfort zone. It becomes painful when they try to go outside of this boundary. You are no different. You have created a boundary that becomes painful when you go outside it.
The dogs manifest a fear of the edge of the property. When they try to leave, they feel the discomfort of the collar and go back to their comfort zone. They are happy in there. This area is their warm and fuzzy place.
Expanding Their Horizons
What happens when one dog decides they want to expand their horizons and leave? Maybe the dog is a male and sees a beautiful female dog a few houses away. First, they would slowly approach the edge, receive the shock, and jump back. Their desire to meet this female is strong. Instead of going back to their comfort zone, this time the dog stays and tries again.
Each time they receive the shock, it gets less painful. The dog is becoming comfortable being uncomfortable. With each try, the dog gets farther and farther until they break free of the pain. They now have new areas to explore and sniff. New experiences are waiting for them, along with the female dog.
Was it painful? Yes! Why didn’t they go back to their comfort zone? Because their reason for wanting to get out of the yard (the female) was bigger and more powerful than the pain. As a result, they expanded their comfort zone.
If your reason for wanting to change your life is larger than the pain of leaving your comfort zone, you will do it. Slowly begin doing the things you are not comfortable doing. Try to do it a little at a time and the pain and discomfort will diminish. You will be expanding your comfort zone. You might even break free of it altogether.
Self-improvement is painful. You have to face your fears and deal with the past; your past has shaped you into the person you are today. You have the power to improve your future. Break out of your comfort zone for yourself and your family. Start doing those little things today!