Stepping out of YOUR comfort zone!
Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone
It’s no myth, stepping out of our comfort zone is uncomfortable. Outside of our comfort zone is often a place of tension, fear, worry and anxiety. In fact were not always that comfortable even in our comfort zone; but despite that we still stay there because it feels familiar, we know the thoughts and feelings that reside in that zone. The life that exists there is recognisable and normal to us.
Before reading on, just take a moment to reflect – When was the last time you left your comfort zone? Was it scary or was it invigorating? I personally think leaving our comfort zone is important, as it gives us a better understanding of who we are and what we like, when we expose ourselves to new experiences. When we stay in our comfort zone for too long, we can become discouraged, unmotivated and experience depressed mood, because being stagnant is unexciting.
“But I'm way too scared to leave my comfort zone...?”
Firstly, ask yourself why? Secondly, it’s important to realize that, unfortunately, a lack of experience or exposure to something outside of your comfort zone causes a snowball effect further exacerbating your fear of that specific situation / experience. Constant avoidance causes that situation or experience to grow into this big scary monster that you never want to deal with, and in-turn it can create a lot of anxiety and stress and potentially lead to a longer term anxiety issue.
Of course there are no gold standards for “comfort zones” per se, because we each define our own in different ways. However whether it’s having a conversation you would rather avoid, or doing a skydive from 12,000 feet; we've got a few tips for making your uncomfortable zone less daunting.
Rethink the part that feels scary.
Identify what feels scary to you and decide to view it in a way that feels exciting or adventurous. Try not to get stuck on how scary something is. That doesn't mean think irrationally about the situation, but weigh up the pro and cons and think realistically. Focusing on how excited or proud you will feel after you do it can help – use that as motivation to do it!
Give it a try.
Remind yourself that you’re simply giving this new situation a try. Try to curb all your preconceptions of the situation and just give it a go. If you really don’t like it after giving it a try, then you can always stop doing it. Think of that time when you said you didn't like, say; onion rings – when in fact you’d never tried them before – it was just a new experience you were unwilling to try – but now you love onion rings!
Devise a plan.
Having a plan helps you leave your comfort zone slowly, and it still feels like it’s within your control. Slowly build up your exposure to a situation. For example: you want to take a solo trip to Europe, but you’re worried about travelling alone for that period of time in such a far away place. Your plan could include, for example; doing some research, reading some articles, blogs and stories from other travellers and learn from other’s first hand experiences. Secondly you decide to take a weekend getaway to an unfamiliar place in New Zealand, to get a feel for what the experience might feel like. What we’re getting at is to slowly edge your way out of your comfort zone and until that day comes, and then the new experience won’t feel as overwhelming.
Talk about things you’d like to do with your friends. Really want to head along to a new yoga class but too scared to go on your own? Why not ask a friend, get them on board and then that way you don’t have to take the leap on your own.
Remind yourself you've done this before.
This one is obviously completely dependent on if you have! Make a list of all the things that you've done in the past that have scared you, but you still managed to complete successfully. This can boost your confidence and help to remind you that you've left your comfort zone before and the outcome wasn't that bad after all!
And finally – Celebrate.
When you have taken a big step to leave your comfort zone – celebrate it. Reward yourself with a treat. Think of how much taking this step is worth to you and reward yourself accordingly. This will also help to keep you motivated for overcoming challenges in the future too.