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The definition of Comfort Zone is “a behavioural state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk”.
So why are we ‘stuck in a rut’, so-to-speak, and afraid to step out of our comfort zones to explore new and exciting possibilities in our lives? Are we really conditioned to be ‘creatures of routine’ and does doing something different cause us anxiety?
Neuroscientist, chiropractor, author and lecturer, Dr. Joe Dispenza is an expert on the brain, mind and human potential and in his latest book, Evolve your brain – The science of changing your mind, he states:
“It is clear, based on the newest science, that we all become conditioned to stay in our comfort zones and our brain keeps us there. Regardless of whether it is more money you want, a better relationship, amazing energy, work that you love, or the body of your dreams, your outer world of results is determined by your inner world. When you change your inner program, you change the results in your life. To win the outer game, you must first master the inner game”.
It is a bit like ‘good cop, bad cop’. One part of your brain is saying be sensible “don’t go on that holiday to the Galapagos Islands, it is too risqué”, whilst the other part is saying “why not, it could be the most exciting place you have ever been”. It is so easy just to stay home and not go anywhere because that does not involve any effort.
Some people tend to be content in their comfort zones, working at the same job all their lives, living in the same house, eating the same food, going on holidays to the same destination year after year. Then there are others who live life on the edge, taking unnecessary risks, trying new and exciting experiences every day of their lives and never able to sit idle. These types of people are often referred to as ‘thrill seekers’ or ‘hypos’.
My son is a pretty good example of this, he has a new idea every time you talk to him. One day he says “I’m going to ride a bicycle across Canada” and the next he says “I’m going to get a job in the Victorian Snowfields for the ski season”. Every day is a new adventure for him!
So what actions, if any, do you need to take to get yourself out of your comfort zone? Well here are some helpful hints:
1. Make a fool of yourself
Why not? Other people make fools of themselves all the time. Do something over-the-top embarrassing like sing at a Karaoke Bar, do your silly ‘bogan dance’ at your sons’ 21st or go skinny dipping in the ocean by moonlight! Go on – let yourself go!
2. Face your fears
Choose one of your fears and confront it head-on. Don’t like heights? Try skydiving, hiking a mountain or going to the top of a highrise building – whatever you can do, as long as the idea of it makes you uneasy. For example, some people are afraid of public speaking but take a public speaking course to overcome their fear.
3. Become comfortable with taking risks
Say “yes” to every single opportunity that presents itself, big or small. From an invite to an event you typically wouldn’t attend, to a job promotion in a different city. Some things are life changers, and they should be embraced with open arms instead of shot down without consideration.
A friend of mine used to say “no” to every invite to lunch or coffee because she said she was too busy. But now she is one of the regulars as she has become comfortable with the notion of ‘going out with the girls’.
4. Enjoy the unknown
Go on an adventure and explore a surrounding city or an area you’re unfamiliar with, using no GPS or assistance from your phone. Enjoy being lost and getting around only by using your own initiative, and asking others for directions. Go to a restaurant you’ve never actually been to and order something unique off of the menu. Go swimming with the elephants in Thailand (I’ve done this and it was very rewarding!)
So when was the last time you felt excited about not knowing what was going to happen next? If you’re deep in your comfort zone, it’s probably been a while. Don’t you miss it? Don’t you miss the mixture of anticipation and anxiety that makes your heart flutter and stomach turn at the same time? Bring that feeling back into your life!
A very wise person once said “A ship in a harbour is safe, but that’s not what a ship is built for”.
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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