Society conditions us to believe there should be no discomfort in life, and when we are uncomfortable we feel things are terribly wrong. We resist anything that feels uncomfortable. But the reverse is actually true. Things that make us feel uncomfortable can be the very things that challenge us, make us stronger and build confidence and self esteem. When we build confidence in ourselves we feel happier.
You experience various emotions and moods, good ones and not so good ones. You know how far down you can fall before you crumble, and you know how good you can feel before you start to feel uncomfortable. Your comfort zone is a behavioural space where your activities and behaviours fit a routine and pattern that minimises stress and risk.
It provides a state of mental security. You benefit in obvious ways; lower anxiety and reduced stress. Most people bob around in a comfortable, predictable, safe bubble of life where the outcome most things can be predicted.
Although we may not be conscious of it, we take part in everyday activities where we can predict the outcome of things, because that gives us stability. We like it! When the outcome of most things we do is acceptable, danger is avoided along with risk of criticism. This bubble is your comfort zone.
Whilst in your comfort zone you experience the ‘manageable’ highs and lows of life, the pleasures and pains. You might not always feel good, but you can handle what you are feeling. Same goes for the good feelings. You operate in a zone which is manageable and comfortable; your zone that is comfortable, safe, where you feel at ease. And that’s where you like to stay.
People might poke their heads out of their bubble every so often to see what excitement lies there, but chances are they will dive straight back into their comfort zone where it’s warm, cosy comfortable and predictable.
Why wouldn’t they? Driving a racing car for a birthday present might push you out of your comfort zone, but you may want to retreat back there as soon as you can.
A comfort zone is a state of relative comfort that creates a steady level of performance. Doing the same thing every day will product the same results every day. As long as you live in your comfort zone, you cannot progress and make leaps and bounds of advancement and success in much at all.
In order to maximise performance, however, we need a state of relative anxiety; a space where our stress levels are slightly higher than normal. This space is called ‘Optimal Anxiety’ and it’s just outside our comfort zone. Too much anxiety and you may become too stressed to be productive, and your performance might drop off. The idea of optimal anxiety isn’t new.
Anyone who’s ever pushed themselves to get to the next level or accomplish something knows that when you really challenge yourself, you can surprise yourself with amazing results. Your comfort zone is a natural state that most people trend towards. Leaving this zone means increased risk and anxiety, but it can help you to achieve positive results. You need to start getting comfortable feeling uncomfortable.
Even when you start to exercise you’ll feel a level of discomfort at first, but it’s all part of the strengthening process. When you learn something new, like a change in your golf swing, you will feel stressed and anxious because it feels wrong. Because there can be significant ‘pain’ when you move outside of this zone, you tend to avoid going there.
Fall below your lowest threshold (rock bottom or lower) or push yourself above your comfortable ceiling, and you start to learn a great deal about yourself. But it hurts, because you are not used to it, and don’t know how you’ll handle it. It’s usually the fear of the unknown that will prevent you from exploring anywhere outside your comfort zone. But until you go there, out of your comfort zone, you will never know what you are capable of, and what a tragedy that would be!
I have never met a World Class performer who trains, works, thinks or behaves in an easy, comfortable zone. They spent their life pushing, discovering, failing, developing, creating, trying, messing up and innovating outside their comfort zone because that is where they will discover the edge they need, the difference they seek, the things that will set them apart from their competition.
It’s only outside your comfort zone that you will find out what you are made of, what your limits are, what hidden depths of ability you have. It can be daunting to push yourself outside this comfortable zone of yours, to experience new feelings, new emotions and new challenges.
I urge you to give it a go, and find out what you are made of. I know you will impress yourself.
You will discover a whole new world of feelings and emotions that you can cope with, and you will discover abilities, power and greatness you didn’t even know you had. It’ s such a good feeling
To get what you want you will have to step into an uncomfortable place to discover ways of achieving your goal. Everything you desire is out of your comfort zone. If it wasn’t, you would already have it. Never forget that.
Start getting comfortable feeling uncomfortable!