It's great to have you as part of my blog community.
Please complete the form below, and feel free to send me your suggestions and comments.
I'll be sure to reply.
Can your comfort zone hold you back from growing? You may be comfortable with patterns of predictability, but in our ever-changing world, seeking predictability can hold you back.
We are creatures of habits. As a therapist, I encourage my clients to break out of habits, try new things, have new experiences.
Let me ask, what are you not doing because you are uncomfortable with uncertainty?
Perhaps it’s not getting a better job? “Oh, I can’t leave my job, I won’t find anything better.” Or perhaps you’ve said, “I don’t want to start a new relationship; I don’t want to get hurt again.” Or, “I can’t go vacation by myself, I won’t enjoy it.”
We’re all uncomfortable with uncertainty, but if we stay in our comfort zone, we will not grow. Life is a constant effort to do the ordinary, differently; try different things.
Creativity occurs at the edge—the artist understands conventions yet is not governed by them. The artist does something else. We call it being creative. The creative person breaks with conventions and norms. Why is it so difficult to do your routine differently? Habits! Your comfort zones. We have a negative emotional response to trying something new, our habits object.
Here’s what I suggest to my clients. When returning home, take a different route. Wear a different outfit. Read something you know nothing about. Modest changes in your routine can have a significant impact. Try it and let me know the results.
When we choose to stay within our comfort zone, our habits are dictating
We forget that we are animals. “What! I’m not an animal!” Yes, you are. And like other animals, we are creatures of habits. Neurological discoveries show how neuropathways support and sustain habits.
We have good habits and bad.
Everyone successful points to the value of good habits. They allow us to do things quickly and efficiently.
You are what you do. The habits you choose set the tone for your life. If you have a habit of greeting your children with joy, you will become joyful. If you have a habit of eating well, you will become a healthy person.
Of course, bad habits are easily identifiable: smoking cigarettes, eating fast foods, biting our nail, interrupting others, etc. These are often easily treated in therapy.
My concern is with the habits that form comfort zones. We’re comfortable with them because we do them so frequently. We’re comfortable with their predictability. So much of our daily life is routine, habituated.
You may be bored and yearn to live life differently, yet often you stay within the confines of your comfort zone, your habits. These habits require effort to change; maybe some developmental therapy.
Why do we repeat mistakes? Our emotions and thoughts are habits too
We don’t often consider our emotions and thoughts as habits. However, neurological discoveries make this clear, neuropathways-habits reproduce our thoughts and feelings. This is why we often say, do and feel what we have said, done and felt before. This is why we repeat mistakes, even when we think we know better.
Someone suggests you see a new documentary. You immediately say, “no thanks, I don’t like documentaries. You don’t stop to think about it. You’re emotional response dictates. You repeat what you always do.
Neurological studies show that our thought and emotional patterns our sustained and perpetuated through neuropathways, habits. If you don’t give effort and attention to them, your emotional habits and habituated thoughts is what you will think and feel because it’s what you usually do.
As a therapist, I know it takes effort to change your emotional habits.
We want to avoid uncertainty. We want to know in advance, but we can’t
I have clients who insist on knowing the consequences of their decisions before they decide. Rarely is that possible. Others want to make decisions but somehow want everything to remain the same. We’re uncomfortable with uncertainty.
Usually, there is no way of knowing in advance. If we could, there would be no reason for us to have make a decision.
Should I begin dating again? Should I get a new job? Should I move to a new city? Should I get a divorce? Cut my hair short? Learn to drive? Vacation by myself? Go back to school? We are uncertain of what will happen, so we chose to remain with what we know, our comfort zone. That’s safe, but not growthful.
Can feeling uncomfortable help you grow emotionally?
You need to get used to feeling uncomfortable. It’s a signal that you are doing something new, potentially developmental. When you do what you always do, you feel comfortable because you’re in the habit of doing it.
When you do something new, you stretch your range, your collection of actions. You broaden the ways you can be, feel and perform. In doing something new, you are performing new ways of being you. You’re creating the new you.
For many of us, when we are doing something new, something we are uncertain about, we feel uncomfortable, awkward, embarrassed, even humiliated. “This shouldn’t be so hard.” “I should know this already.” These are habituated feelings that come with doing something new. They don’t mean anything and it’s okay to ignore them.
The wonderful thing about our species is we can break our habits. We can quit smoking cigarettes, biting our nails, cracking your knuckles, sleeping late, etc.
More importantly, we can try new things, we can go hiking, take dancing lessons, learn a new language, change careers, date, start exercising. Most anything you want.
Live life vibrantly by breaking out of your comfort zone
It is not as difficult as you imagine. We are all capable of doing our routines differently, and deciding to do new things. The resistance is just an old emotional habit. Don’t underestimate the joy of exploring, learning, and discovering.
We all have the capacity to change the mundane way we do things and create new practices, new forms of living our lives!
Creating these new kinds of activities is creating you and your life going forward.
As a therapist, I support my clients to go to the edge and cross the border where we can be sufficiently free from the tyranny of the normal—the pattern of expectations, obligations. We can break from the sanctions of our habits. I urge you to try something different. It can change your life.