by Kahlia Meeuwsen, Lifestyle Columnist
Published in Lifestyle on 8th October, 2018
We often hear a lot about getting out of our comfort zones, but not everyone takes the time to think about what that means or why it's important. After all, your comfort zone is comfortable!
However, getting outside of that zone is key to personal growth and happiness. It allows you to build up aspects of yourself that not everyone is satisfied with, such as self-confidence and the way you view yourself. That said, you don't exactly have to leap out of an airplane or give a speech to thousands of people to get out of your comfort zone.
Your comfort zone is a place of rest. It's a place where you can rest, relax and be comfortable! When you're in your comfort zone, you don't have to try, be on edge or feel guarded against anything around you. For these reasons, it's a great place to be from time to time.
However, we need some level of discomfort to grow and face tasks that we wouldn't normally attempt. Through that discomfort, we become better able to handle those kinds of discomforts. For example, if you have a lot of social anxiety, making yourself leave your comfort zone can help to diminish that fear.
Although your comfort zone is comfortable, it's also a place that limits your growth as a person. You're never challenged, and therefore never have to rise to the occasion. Getting out and creating your own growth can also help you to be happier overall.
If you're afraid of something, then you have two options. You can choose to get over that fear, or you can suffer under it forever. Without any effort, it's not going to be something that simply goes away. You have to put yourself in situations that focus on that fear in order to overcome it.
Take for example, a fear of public speaking. Many people have this fear, and it can vary from person to person pretty wildly. Practicing public speaking is the best way to learn that the fear isn't one that should rule your life.
That said, you don't have to tackle it in the most difficult way possible. Rather than giving a speech in front of many people, you can get some friends together, visit a local Toastmaster's group, or another group that helps you to get out and talk to people more.
Something that is helpful to know is that if you're afraid of something, it's likely there are others who are as well. As you work in the discomfort to grow, you're likely to come into contact with other people struggling with the same thing.
If you've started before these people, then you'll have more experience. Depending on what the group or activity is, you can help to make those who are newer feel comfortable. In turn, that will help them to grow, and you'll feel great in knowing that you contributed to a positive, healthy environment.
Helping others is a great way to pull ourselves out of our own minds, which can have a positive effect on many people. This is especially true for those with anxiety, depression and other kinds of situations where rumination can be a large problem. Helping others can be key to feeling better.
Getting out of your comfort zone is a great way to become happier overall. Many of us struggle with self-confidence and self-esteem, and these problems can grow if we don't address their source. Stepping outside your comfort zone can be a great way to build confidence and see yourself in a new light.
On top of that, learning that you can overcome a fear or accomplish a task aids you in feeling like a more competant individual. You're sure to feel elated knowing that something that once seemed so scary, is now something you have no trrouble doing, or at the very least only feel some benign nervousness about.
This kind of growth can pull you from the quagmire that we can sometimes feel stuck in. Our fears can be so limiting, and remaining in our comfort zone without trying to confront them leaves you trapped in that unhealthy space.
As earlier mentioned, you don't need to make a huge leap when it comes to getting outside your comfort zone. In fact, that's the last thing you should do. It's more likely that something like that would make you even more frightened, and cause you to be more likely to remain in your comfort zone.
The first thing you'll want to do is consider the changes you'd like to make in your life. Do you want to be more social, get over a fear, or perhaps try out a new career? After you've thought about this, take the item that seems the easiest to accomplish.
Doing this can help you to snowball your success into greater feats. If you tackle something smaller, it can help you to build the confidence you need to move on to a larger task. Focusing on each individual step, you'll get farther than you may have believed possible.
The most important aspect is taking small steps. Don't try to tackle your fears at once, or do the scariest thing first. While that might seem like the best way to go about it, it's most likely to result in you backing out and being unwilling to try again.
Consider taking on challenges that will result in you doing something you enjoy. For example, if you've always had an interest in theater, but are afraid of getting up on stage, then maybe join a local theater group. You don't have to act, just get into it. There are so many other things you can do in the background. Then, as you grow more comfortable, you can choose whether or not you want to push yourself farther.
On top of that, meeting goals with regard to things you care about can fuel your desire to keep reaching for more. You can also find a number of groups that can help with just about any goals you may have. For example, if your goal is to write a book, then you can find a group to write with regularly. This can help with socialization as well as achieving your goals.
There are a few things to keep in mind when you're planning to step outside your comfort zone. These tips can help to bring down the fear you can experience when trying something new. After all, you're already going outside your comfort zone, there's no need to exacerbate the fear that can come with it.
When you're attempting new things, there are likely to be failures, embarrassing moments and places where you stumble. In the moment, these feelings can seem overwhelming. However, it's important to remember one thing. Failure while trying something isn't nearly as bad as not trying at all.
When you fail while trying something, you typically learn what went wrong to cause that failure. As a result, you'll be able to take that knowledge and try again, or try a different path to your goals. Many of us are conditioned to think that there is one right way to do things, and if we can't do something in that way then we're just failures.
In reality, there are a number of ways to accomplish various tasks. Failure down one path only means that you may need to try another, until you find the right one for you.
It's also worthwhile to keep in mind that everyone has their own struggles. If you're in a group or class designed to help with building skills, it's likely that other people there are also struggling with the skill. In most cases, people just aren't going to be as willing to judge as you may expect.
We all have worries and fears about ourselves. Maybe we don't think we're attractive, or we may not feel that we're good enough to accomplish a certain task. However, other people can't see those fears or worries. What they often see is your growth, or they are too wrapped up in their own fears to worry about yours.
If you can only dedicate half an hour a week to doing something that gets you outside of your comfort zone, do it. No amount is too small, and even that small amount of time will bring improvements over not making the attempt at all.
No matter what amount of time you can put into it, the main goal is to start. Once you get started, the process gets easier. In time, you'll find that you can roll that half-hour into an hour or more, and enjoy that time rather than fear it.