Everyone has their own “comfort zone”, and rather than being an actual place, it is more of a psychological construct that defines the limits of our daily routines and experiences. To be in your comfort zone implies being in a safe, secure and familiar situation – and is crucial to our wellbeing as human beings. It is the familiar part of our world that keeps us free from the chaos that produces anxiety, insecurity and stress. However, despite being a necessary part of our lives, it can also have adverse effects. 

1. Your brain is sluggish:

Your brain does not know the difference between good and bad habits and will try to retain low energy usage by sticking to what you have always done, hence, staying in your comfort zone.

2. Your brain focuses on survival:

Your brain tries to keep you alive and can sometimes mix up the intensity of trying out something unfamiliar, like presenting in front of peers, with something like being chased down by a hungry lion instead. This can often lead to a strong fear of the unknown and assists in limiting your development.

The problem with maintaining the same routines and habits is that there is no room for growth in doing so. An example of this is when you go to the gym. We all know that lack of physical growth can lead to poor health and weaker muscle. However, we make ourselves to go through a tough exercise regime on a regular basis, although we feel the pain and the discomfort, we continue it, because we are interested in the results and we are aware the outcome of the discomfortable will bring benefits to our health and wellbeing. 

The issue then is that we often find ourselves unable to identify an obvious benefit to seeking discomfort, whether that be socially, emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually. This lack of an obvious benefit becomes a missing piece of information in the decision-making process of justifying why anyone would expose themselves to the pain that seeking discomfort entails.

Benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone:

1. A new sense of self:

  • If you face the unknown, you will have to utilize your personal storage of untapped knowledge and resources to endure. By doing this, you will start realising that you are stronger than you initially thought you were – which is incredibly empowering.
  • With this newfound source of empowerment, your fear on the unknown is reduced, as  you become more confident in your own capacity and capabilities.
  • You will experience the empowering nature of “bravery is not lack of fear but overcoming them”. 
  • Another step to finding your new sense of self is when you learn the significance of Nelson Mandela’s quote of “I never fail. I either win or learn”. To me, it means failures become lessons, rather than life sentences- This is very empowering. 

2. New adventures and opportunities:

  • Deciding to face the unknown will inevitably put you in new positions you have never been before. This will likely create new opportunities for you, with new challenges and risks to take. Combining this with your new sense of strength is guaranteed to bring along exciting experiences and new knowledge of the world and yourself.
  • You are likely to start aiming for goals that have been restrained by your insecurities in the past – this can be incredibly fulfilling and provide a strong sense of purpose.

3. Increased control over your own life:

  • By facing your fears, you understand that moat times your fears have been your own creation- thus you can toss them aside easily. This understanding will equip you with bravery and is essential in taking control over your own life – not giving in to the fear of failure or change and restricting yourself to your comfort zone.

It may seem scary and unnecessary to step out of your comfort zone, but all great things come at a cost. Rejection and failure are both painful to experience and are sure to be encountered on your new endeavors into the unknown. However, when you learn new lessons from every painful experience, you will see that they are both a price worth paying if it helps you get closer to achieving your goals.

Not only are they a price worth paying, but a price that must be paid for changes to be made. For example: without the pain of lifting weights, there would be no increase in muscle gain. Our body becomes stronger only when it is exposed to discomfort and pain – or else there would be no need for changes to be made in the first place. There is also some comfort to be found in this. Similar to the pain you feel when doing the last couple of repetitions in the gym, you can start to appreciate the feeling of pain as an indicator of progress towards your goal.

Do not fear the pain, for encountering that pain consistently will provide you with the strength to tackle bigger life challenges. Therefore, start planning how you can step out of your comfort zone, find your goals, and start aiming for them. Begin with the actual goal itself, and then plan out the microprocesses you can complete to get there. 

Perhaps the following quote from Kilroy J. Oldster, who was an accomplished trial attorney, arbitrator, and mediator portrays the essence of stepping out of your comfort zone best: 

“Living is a process of developing oneself. Without experiencing pain from disconcerting periods of our lives, we would be different person, perhaps a lesser person.”

To explore the skills to develop your ability in stepping out of your comfort zone, you can contact Takes Specialist Centre to see how one of our psychiatrists or psychologists may be able to assist you in your journey.