Exploring the border of our comfort zone
Our comfort zone contains thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that we feel comfortable experiencing or doing. While some types of self development may occur inside our comfort zone, the most interesting types of development lie near the border of our comfort zone or beyond it.
Our comfort zone has gradually shrunk because of the blocks that developed within us during our life. E.g. if we were constantly told that we should always be working so that we do not become “lazy” or because we have to always accumulate more money, then we will feel very uncomfortable not working for an extended period of time. Exploring the border of our comfort zone allows us to gradually reduce the power that these blocks have on us, thereby allowing our inner strengths to be more powerful and come to light.
If we stay only inside our comfort zone, we will continue doing the same things we are used to, and get the same results. We are here to develop, to discover new things about themselves and others, to shed layers that no longer serve us. This requires investigating the boundaries of our personality, and changing the way we think and act, even if only by a small amount. Trying new things and behaviors we have not yet tried, to see how it feels. We humbly admit that we do not yet know everything, and we want to expand our horizons to new and even unconventional ideas.
This means agreeing consciously and deliberately to put ourselves in situations in which we feel at least a little discomfort, so that we can investigate exactly what goes on within us under such circumstances, and how to expand our comfort zone’s horizons. We may feel discomfort, concern, hesitation, fear, or irritation, and we agree to accept that these emotions are part of a positive and empowering process in which our personality and abilities expand. In this way, we become more free, and get closer to what we really want.
For most people, a gradual process is more suitable than a radical approach where one attempts to forcefully push oneself beyond one’s limits – this potentially can backfire by causing trauma. The process is done carefully and gradually, in small steps, in a safe environment that allows progress and deepening. Everything is optional, nothing is obligatory. We need to really listen to ourselves, with honesty, integrity, and respect.
A certain amount of courage and daring is required – to act despite concerns and fears, so as not to remain stuck in place. The leading question is this: “Remaining in your place, in your current pattern – would that benefit you? Or taking a small step, with courage despite your concerns and discomfort – is that what will serve you and empower you on your development process?”
List a few actions or situations that would cause you to feel uncomfortable, uneasy, nervous, or even fear. What are the blocks that cause these emotions? What gentle course of action would you propose to yourself in order to experience these situations yet remain in them in order to understand yourself better and perhaps overcome them?
Here are a few ideas for things you could try to do which might help you expand your comfort zone:
- With a friend, look into each other’s eyes for two minutes without talking.
- Start chatting with someone on a bus or while waiting at a bus stop.
- Knock on your neighbor’s door and invite them for coffee at a cafe or at your own place.
- In a group, everyone forms a circle looking inward, and you stand in the middle of the circle for two minutes. Notice what feelings you have in your body, and what thoughts cross through your mind.
Re-examining our beliefs
Some of our blocks stem from limiting or harmful beliefs. Some of these beliefs originate in an unhealthy attitude that exists in our culture towards natural life forces within us. Our culture tries to repress them using negative judgments which install shame, guilt, fear, and confusion.
Exploring our comfort zone means re-examining these common beliefs, cultural norms, and social taboos, questioning them and not taking them for granted. Each of us should investigate them by ourselves to find our what is truly suitable for us rather than automatically adopting beliefs and codes of behavior just because we were told that’s how we “should” act, or because of fear of how other people might react to our choices.
List all the cultural norms and social taboos you can think of. E.g. “one should get married”, or “you should have kids”. It could also be family-specific, such as “you should always do what your parents tell you”. It might also be helpful to think of social norms that existed in the past but are no longer acceptable, such as “it is okay to own slaves” or “women must not be allowed to vote”. For each item you wrote, describe whether you are following this norm or not. If you are following it, have you ever considered deviating from it? If not, examine this possibility. If you could, would you choose to act differently? If not, is it because it is really not right for you based on good reasons, or is it only because of fear of being criticized, ridiculed, or punished by others?