Our Comfort Zone is the space or activities in our life where we feel confident, a sense of ease and familiarity, and not at risk in any way. Many factors can create changes to the how comfortable we are engaging socially with our friends, in our work, and in our environment.
At times in our life, we may notice our comfort zone is smaller than we would like, limiting our enjoyment of life. Experiencing things like anxiety, depression, fear of COVID, bullying, poverty, marginalisation etc., can result in our comfort zone becoming smaller, contracting to protect ourselves.
For example, if we are frequently overwhelmed by noisy, chaotic social settings, or with people who don’t respect our boundaries, we may decide not to accept invitations and stay home instead, losing connection with friends over time. Or at work, we may not back ourselves to take on something new.
However, by challenging ourselves to expand our comfort zone, we can embrace more experiences and grow our confidence. If we identify the social settings, activities or people that suit us better, and challenge ourselves to meet healthy friends in those environments, we increase our comfort zone. Or at work, we could opt in to be part of a new project or training opportunity, and encourage ourselves to take a manageable step forward.
At times, we can feel way out of our depth, overwhelmed and highly anxious or uncomfortable - we can call this the Chaos Zone. It is important to notice when we are in the chaos zone, so we can move back to safety where possible. Chaos for too long can cause our comfort zone to shrink.
What is your Comfort Zone?
When and where do I feel safe, confident and comfortable?
Who do I feel safe, confident and comfortable with?
How is my comfort zone limiting me?
Next... the Challenge Zone
Stepping out into the challenge zone is the space where we are gently pushing ourselves, creating a healthy stress response, using greater concentration and focus. Ask yourself:
What stretches me?
How, when and where can I step slightly out of my comfort zone, in a way that challenges me, without it feeling chaotic?
What do I need to learn or change to help me cope better in the challenge zone?
How would I recognise the growth points, or moving towards the goals I am setting?
The chaos zone is the space and activities where we feel anxious, not in control, or overwhelmed and at risk in some way, creating a high level of discomfort.
When and where do I feel overwhelmed or unsafe?
Who do I feel at risk, overwhelmed or unsafe around?
What causes me to feel overwhelmed, chaotic or out of control?
How can I decrease the time I spend in the chaos zone?
While we can’t always avoid the Chaos Zone, it can be helpful to identify it in order to understand ourselves better. Similarly, by identifying any limits to our Comfort Zone, we can take small steps work towards challenging ourselves to overcome these limitations, and live a bigger, more satisfying life.
Take a look at your Comfort Zone, answer the questions above, and see if you’d like to challenge yourself... just a little.
Vanessa Steele: counsellor, mum, partner, blogger... listening and learning every day.