The Illusional Comfort Zone That Is Keeping You Trapped!Apr 11, 2022
Your Comfort zone is the thing that is slowly eating you up, and you don’t even know it!
How do you know this? you might ask! Because this is exactly what I have experienced for years, until I finally had the courage to step out of it!
I understand why you might think that comfort zone is ‘comfortable’, and it keeps you safe. And perhaps that is true to some extent. Because the ‘comfort zone’ as we know it is created by your brain to keep you safe. It is your reptilian brain, the lowest part of your brain, trying to keep you safe from ‘danger’. This is the same part of the brain that helps you escape dangers like, being chased by a lion, or a bus is speeding towards you. It is the one that triggers fight or flight reaction.
Unfortunately, though, your reptilian brain doesn’t know the difference between the ‘real danger’, as in a lion running towards you; and a ‘perceived/imagined danger’- like having to do something really unfamiliar or different for the first time. It sends the same signals to your body, like beating your heart really fast, sweaty hands, increased adrenalin whether you are about to be eaten by a lion or just do a presentation in front of 10 people (let’s face it, likely you are not going to die, doing the latter).
Naturally, it is not a great idea to be in this state on a consistent basis, so your brain creates a sense of comfort and familiarity around what you regularly do. After a while ‘familiar’ becomes ‘comfortable and safe’.
It is so easy to get into this pattern of comfort even with things we don’t normally do. This is why going out with friends (real people and face to face) may cause anxiety, as it became so unfamiliar after almost 2 years of staying in isolation!
On the other hand, as human beings, we are here to grow and evolve. Especially if you are a skilled professional who wants to grow and develop as a person. This is the higher part of your brain, your analytical brain, your inquisitive side pushing you to become better than you were yesterday and last year etc.
This is where it gets tricky. Because in order to grow, evolve and be better than you were yesterday, the year before… you need to do things you haven’t done before (as doing the same thing and expecting a different result is clearly not going to work🙄),
You need to try new things and do something completely different uncomfortable/unfamiliar’!
...and you now know what happens when you want to do that right? Yes, the reptilian brain kicks in, the heart rate goes up, the anxiety comes, you are filled with fear.
And you go right back where you started!
This becomes a constant battle of the two brains, and a battle in your head that keeps you trapped exactly where you are.
But like I said, we are here to grow and evolve. It gives you a sense of purpose and sense of importance. All you need to be able to do is to breakthrough that initial barrier of fear and unfamiliarity. And, indeed, you can do that. There are so many examples of people in the world who do that to achieve great things in life. One that still sticks in my mind is Susan Boyle, a middle aged woman from a small village in Scotland who lived with her grandmother and never went out of her village, until she won a talent competition. Do you think that Susan Boyle would have won Britain’s Got Talent if she didn’t face her fear to get up on that stage and sing? Of course not!
You might be wondering how do you find the courage to get out of that safety, comfort, familiarity zone to be able to do what you want to do?
Just remember the story of the dog that is sitting on the nail:
"A man is on his morning walk in the neighbourhood when he hears a dog whimpering in the front decking of a house from a distance. As he gets closer to the house, the cry gets more and more heart-breaking.
He can’t help but walk into the front of the house and sees a man sitting on a rocking chair right next to the dog. He asks the man: ‘why is he crying?’. The owner says: ‘He is sitting on a nail’. Then the man says: ’why doesn’t he move?’. The owner says: ‘It is too painful’! The man looks at him in disbelief…😲
Isn’t it incredible? The dog doesn’t move, because he ‘believes’ that moving (taking the necessary action to change) is so painful that he is ‘happy’ to sit there in pain and cry”😔
So the pain of the nail became his new ‘comfort zone’! Where in your life do you do this now? I have done it in my corporate job for years, until pain was no longer bearable!
When you are struggling to make a decision to step out of your comfort zone, remember this story and ask yourself: ‘How much longer am I prepared to stay in the ‘comfort’ of this pain and suffering?’
And carefully consider: Where will you be in a year, 2 years, 3 years from now, if you continue to stay with your comfort/familiarity?
Join our chat on the podcast on today’s Episode where we talk about the same topic with great real-life examples.
Book a free call to discover how I can help you move from that nail so quickly and painlessly.
Until next time…