Everything you ever wanted is on the other side of your comfort zone. Sounds great right? But if it’s so much better on the other side, why does the comfort zone feel like such a nice place?!
THE COMFORT ZONE
Our comfort zone, as the name implies, is indeed a place in which we feel comfy. Here, there’s no pressure, stress or anxiety, so that’s a win. But we should not confuse our comfort zone with actually being comfortable. It only feels comfortable because when we turn to our comfort zone, small doses of dopamine are released, making us feel good and temporarily relieving us from the anxiety and stress that whatever we’re doing is causing.
So we keep going back, again and again, because our comfort zone is familiair. Here, we feel like we have control and we know what lies in front of us. That’s why your comfort zone can feel so cozy that you’d rather stay there. Even if you consciously know it’s better to push through, subconsciously, we tend to self-sabotage. This self-sabotage might involve finding excuses, procrastinating or simply avoiding the challenging tasks that exist outside our comfort zone. It's a natural defense mechanism that aims to protect us from the potential discomfort, negative feelings and uncertainty of change.
HOW TO GET OUT?
Visualize yourself at your current point. Now, your goal is to get to the beloved other side. To get there, you have to cross a bridge. And it’s not any brigde; this bridge is made out of pressure, stress and anxiety - I know, life has its funny tricks. A pretty quote is probably not going to empower you to reach the other side, so here’s what we’re going to do:
STEP 1 UNDERSTAND
Know what you’re dealing with. What are your comfort creatures to enter or remain within your comfort zone? Is it social media, comfort food, online shopping, a glass of wine? Understand your behavior, so when you find yourself with your head in the fridge again, you’ll be able to pause and question yourself if you’re truly hungry or just hiding from your uncomfortable feelings.
STEP 2: CONTROL
Are you willing to change? Your first reaction might be, ‘Duh Yvonne, ofcourse!!’ But I want you to let this sink in for a bit because change means going in deep. You have to find out what triggers your need for comfort. Do you fear the unknown? Are you afraid to fail? Are you willing to challenge your fears, even if it’s going to make you feel really uncomfortable? You have to understand what triggers you and how you respond in order to gain control.
If this is all still a firm YES for you, then you are ready for STEP 3!
STEP 3: MOVE
We always need a back-up plan when things get tough. What are you going to do when you get scared or stressed? You’ve already made it this far, don’t go back to your comfort zone now! What will you do to keep taking steps forward on this bridge? Maybe an accountability partner will empower you. Perhaps journaling will help you calm down. Whatever it is, make sure that you replace the small dopamine hits from your comfort zone with new habits that will keep you moving forward and push through.
Good luck, you’ve got this!