Each of us has a comfort zone. That is the area, both physical and emotional, where we believe ourselves to be safe from harm and even undue stress. The understanding of where our comfort zone is can and often does change radically at different points in our lives.
When we were infants, our comfort zone was everything and everyone in our world. We knew only our immediate needs, such as the need for food and sleep, with the periodic need for a dry diaper. We voiced our discomfort until someone in our ur comfort zone made the discomfort stop. That absolute lining up of our comfort zone with the world around us slowly gave way to the world of relationships.
Certain people made us happy. Maybe one or two had loud voices and made us sad. As our field of relationships grew, we realized more clearly the situations and relationships that worked to support us in our comfort zone and those that tended to put us outside, often against our will.
New situations, even though exciting, tend to take us out of our comfort zone, if only for a short time. The anxious feelings of the first day of school are often “out of comfort zone” experiences. As we gain the familiarity and confidence of these new situations, we return to our comfort zone.
A part of growing up is deliberately moving out of our comfort zone on occasion. The best possible outcome involves learning that trying new situations leads to pleasant outcomes and increases our willingness to try new things and thereby expand our comfort zone. The phrase, “Practice makes perfect” expresses the best outcome of constantly expanding both our experiences and our comfort zone.
Sometimes events in our lives lead us to retreat within ourselves and make our comfort zone smaller. Suffering a tragic experience like a loss, a serious illness or a major disappointment in one of our relationships can make us unable or unwilling to expand our comfort zone. We all know people who seem to get stuck in a comfort zone that appears to limit what they are able to accomplish in their lives. We tend to see people experiencing this as being fearful, nervous, even angry.
As we move forward, it is good to be aware of where our comfort zone is as well as where those of others are. I believe each of us does the very best we can in every situation. Are there areas of your comfort zone you would like to expand? What might be holding you back? What is one thing you do today to nudge your comfort zone just a little? Can you think of someone who seems to be struggling with a small comfort zone? Is there some bi of encouragement you can offer that might help them?
As we move forward, let us seek for ourselves comfort zones that allow us the best experiences we can have in life.If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.
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