The Comfort Zone
The Comfort Zone
By Kathy Ryndak and Gord Riddell
We all live in this invisible but very real bubble called the comfort zone. The purpose of this zone is to shield our self from any outside forces or influences that could in any way upset our daily life. It convinces us we are safe and secure and have control of our world. The comfort zone shields us in all areas of our life from careers to love to environment to others in our life. It's primary purpose is to maintain the status quo. Anything perceived as a threat to our status quo will set off any number of defensive responses including rebuke, rage or rationalizations.
While we may think we are very secure inside the comfort zone, consciously or unconsciously, we are robbing ourselves of unlimited growth possibilities. The more entrenched we are in keeping things the way they are, the less chance we have for change and growth in our world. The comfort zone is completely re-enforced because we know how to do everything that comprises it. In other words we know how to do our jobs, how to do our relationships, know how to do our life. There are no challenges, no conflicts, therefore a sense of safety and security.
The Fear Zone
While we may have convinced our self how comfortable our private world is, free from major challenges and conflicts, what is actually re-enforcing this comfort zone is fear. Fear of loss, fear of being exposed of our imperfections, fear of not knowing or not looking good. While others on the outside may see us as having this very comfortable world we appear to be floating through, our insides are ruled by a sense of fear and foreboding. Our comfort zone is an intellectual internal form of denial in order not to feel how much fear is actually present.
Our fear stops us, sometimes dead in our tracks, from extending our self and discovering the hidden wonders and resources we all have inside. It also robs us of the wonders and experiences of other people and the outside world. The walls of the comfort zone are quite impermeable but in both directions. The walls of the bubble not only keep others out but they also keep us in. It is impossible for us to extend ourselves, take risks, open up to others and maintain the status quo. Our fear is very rigid and will not allow us to have experiences that will result in change to any great degree. We will do anything in our power to either keep things the way they were or get them back to that place.
The Learning Zone
Once we step out of our zone we usually experience an increase in our level of fear. We may feel anxious, out of control, even have panic attacks. These are all very clever little devices our comfort zone has to get us back into that zone. If the fear gets big enough or overwhelming enough we will usually back down from the activity threatening to upset the status quo and experience an immediate sense of relief. We have however re-enforced these clever devices by backing down. Our reward is our feeling of relief and return to comfort. What we need to see however is that the step beyond the comfort zone is a whole new world of learning. This is an invitation to you to see this place as the learning zone.
The learning zone is uncomfortable, no doubt about that. We feel all the things we did not want to feel while in the comfort zone. This learning zone, however, is the place where we push the walls around us further and further out to include not only lots more of who we really are but also to embrace a larger and more expansive world. As an analogy imagine living in one small room. At first it is cozy and comfortable but after awhile it slowly begins to feel cramped and uncomfortable. So you move to something larger which you can fill with your favourite things and you slowly feel comfortable in this new space. You may do this again and again and each time you will learn to be safe and comfortable in you new space. Our comfort zone is exactly the same way. While it may have started out feeling comfortable it will eventually feel confining and perhaps claustrophobic if we do not give our self more space.
The learning zone is a place to discover not only who we are but also who we are in the world. Many people want to know what their higher purpose is but it can only be experienced and lived when we have provided enough space for it to flourish and develop into this physical world. Otherwise higher purpose is nothing more than intellectual concept that goes nowhere. What we really need to do is to give ourselves permission to not know everything, to risk making mistakes and to open our minds to untold of wonders. In giving our self this permission we move much more gently into the learning zone without being catapulted into it because we would not give up our safe and secure world of comfort. Yes the universe will do this for us. If we are unwilling to be open to change and growth, then almost invariably, we will be moved into new experiences, some not so nice, as a way to force change, not only for our self but often for others in our world.
Albert Einstein said: "Everything has changed except, our thinking." Humans seem to be the only species that are intent in not allowing change for themselves and often for others. We must be able to change the way we think about our self and the world in order to achieve any level of consciousness. It is a never ending and process way of living life. It is truly about the journey not the end goal. Mainly because no one knows what the end goal is. To believe you do is only to fool yourself. This is not a onetime event. Onetime events only move you from one comfort zone to another. Then the universe will once again intercede on our behalf to keep pushing us along the path of awareness. Or we can make it much easier by allowing our self to live in the learning zone and being open to learn, experience and grow.
Change is inevitable it is only humans who fool themselves that the can control or stop it. We can allow change gracefully and easily or we can be fired out of a cannon begrudgingly into one more "opportunity for growth". We really do have a choice. Stay in our comfort zone and experience unplanned for change or alter they way we think and allow not only the inevitable but the exciting: change. It all rests in our mind, our attitudes and perceptions. Would you prefer a cramped little box to live or an expansive space to spread your wings and discover just how much you are capable of? You choose.