13 Nov Your Comfort Zone is a Death Trap
Comfort zones definitely serve a purpose. Many people equate their comfort zones with being in a relaxed state. This is a good thing when you consider that relaxation leads to lower cortisol levels, clearer thinking and a general feeling of peacefulness – all good stuff.
But our comfort zones don’t always benefit us. In fact, many comfort zones are straight-up death traps. Comfort zones can be very restrictive and self-destructive. How? By keeping you in a place where everything is easy and you know exactly what to expect at all times.
The biggest hurdle you will encounter in the quest to expand your horizons socially is gathering the courage to venture outside your comfort zone. It’s true – the first few times you try it, you might fail miserably. Your mind is programmed to avoid uncomfortable and unpleasant situations by making a note when you attempt something new and fall flat on your face. It tells you, “Don’t do that anymore!” and that’s the little voice you hear every time you enter a similar scenario.
Your success will depend on how you approach that first step out of your comfort zone. If you go too far in the beginning, it’s likely not going to be sustainable. When you jump from comfortable to extremely uncomfortable right away, you can easily become discouraged, but a gradual approach will be much more effective.
Too Much, Too Soon
Let’s look at the couch potato. He sits on his couch for hours/days at a time. On one of his late-night-TV-and-chocolate binges, he sees an infomercial for P90X that promises him amazing results in 90 days. He buys it. The program arrives and he gets all excited. The countdown is on! Just 90 more days. Day one is tough, no doubt about that. He’s sweating his ass off, but he did it! Day two comes along and he feels more inspired, pushes harder… he’s gonna do it in 80 days! Day three, he pulls a muscle and can’t exercise for three weeks. Back to the couch he goes. I guess fitness just isn’t for him. It’s the classic case of too much, too soon.
A Balanced Approach
A better option would have been to start by taking a walk every day for a week. Then a bike ride, then a diet change, then a gym membership, then hiring a personal trainer who can guide him toward the level of fitness he desires in a controlled way. He won’t see immediate results, but over the course of 90 days he’ll see amazing results, since he has been doing something everyday to move toward his goal. He’s probably also more likely to stick with his new habits.
The first example is known as “flooding”. It overwhelms the system to a point it can’t handle and it’s not effective for long-term change. On the other hand, the second path is the slow and steady path of the tortoise.
Much of my social training and real-world exercises will take you to a place that might feel uncomfortable at first. When you do it again and again, your comfort zone will expand into new territory and by understanding how that works, you can expand your comfort zone in very specific directions. In our case, those paths can lead to greater success in your personal relationships.
To your mild discomfort,
Devon OB Ash