It is likely you have seen or can resonate with this diagram regarding your comfort zone. I’ve used it previously in another article. It gives the implication that you have to leave your comfort zone to experience and get to where the “magic happens”.
In my experience, working with people, despite knowing that going outside their comfort zone is what they have to do to experience the “magic”, they simply don’t. Most find it less than easy to take that step into what they fear. However what if there was another way, what if we could interpret this image slightly differently?
When making changes, whether to your diet, exercise program or mindset, it is said the way to make the changes lasting is to make small changes regularly. When changes are not so drastic, it makes them less overwhelming and somewhat insignificant. Which means you are more likely to easily maintain them.
Comfort Zone Expansion
This principle can be applied to your comfort zone. Instead of stepping out of your comfort zone to be overpowered by fear, break down into smaller steps as to how you can get to where the magic happens. Also consider alternative ways that aren’t so forceful to you.
By taking minor steps you make minor adjustments naturally expanding what is considered comfortable. Because it is expanding, you have no need to go out side your comfort zone instead your comfort zone is enlarged to embrace where the “magic happens.
Recently my daughter and I went back to visit Trees Adventures at Grose River Park, Yarramundi NSW (Australia). I have somewhat of a fear of heights and again this seemed to escape my mind when I agreed to take her! Without mindfully being aware, we embraced this principle.
Instead of going to the most challenging one or even the somewhat challenging one, we started off on the easy course. We were making the uncomfortable more comfortable. The easy course helped give us skills as well as references that we could do it! Which helped us to tackle one of the more the more challenging courses.
Now that doesn’t mean at times I wasn’t fearful on the course and didn’t want to bail out (which by the way I found out you actually can’t – on some courses you are so high up they can’t get you, so the only choice you have is to keep going forward). What I did do though was adjust how I did the challenge. Perhaps not technically correct however I did it in a way that suited. It also was in a way that whilst still challenging wasn’t as immobilising as the “correct” option.
Another way to expand our comfort zone is to do something fearful each day. Now this doesn’t mean jumping out of planes fearful, it means something which is within reason fearful. For example giving a stranger a compliment; or taking yourself to lunch; going for a drive to somewhere you have never been (without the Navigation System); asking a new friend to catch up for coffee; going to the movies by yourself; learn a new language and practice it on a stranger.
In regulate fear you train your brain that it is OK to feel fear and to not be disabled by it. A buy product is that you are also practising courageousness and creating new neurological connections.
Build Self Trust
Lastly build trust within yourself. You can start doing this by being mindful of how you speak to yourself. Is it with kindness and support? If not, start changing it now. We are often so mindful about not wanting to hurt others yet do not apply that to ourselves. Have empathy for yourself when you get it “wrong”. Compliment yourself when you get things right.
You can also build trust within yourself by keeping the commitments and promises you have made to yourself. When you do, you unconsciously give yourself the message that you ARE reliable. You are someone who you can count on. It also gives yourself the message that you can and will take action when needed.
The key to trusting yourself is loving yourself. When you love yourself, trust is a natural by product. When you love and accept yourself, you allow you to be you and in doing so you can then build upon your strengths as well as create new ones. Trusting in yourself means that you know intrinsically that you can survive any situation. That you are able to take care of yourself and that you won’t give up on you.