Beyond the Comfort Zone

May 7th, 2012

Neale Donald Walsch said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

That is SO true and SO important to remember. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, on the brink of a decision to throw yourself fully into the unknown, and let an open future with limitless possibilities carry you as you free fall.

To change is to grow, and to grow is move beyond your comfort zone. In fact the only way to stay in the comfort zone is to live in the past because if you are truly engaging the present you realize that it is new and demands a new response from an ever evolving and new YOU.

The comfort zone is the red light district of personal growth. It’s all red lights, stop signs and rear view living, pimping your potential out to the past. The highest bidder is the habitual response because it’s familiar, whether it’s worked for you in the past or not. Even if it worked in the past, it might not work now. Its time to rezone your perspective.

We all have a comfort zone, or maybe several. Our comfort zones are the circles we draw around our lives. We do this for a couple of reasons.

  1. To protect what’s inside; the beliefs, the relationships, the identity. They feel fragile.
  2. To keep people and things out that may unsettle our worldview. It just feels safer that way.

The purpose of this piece is to nudge you out of your comfort zone, even a little. Wherever possible, we should inspire each other to be ALL we can be, the largest version of ourselves. This sort of interaction is where the magic happens.

Comfort zones are deceptive and misnamed. They offer anything but comfort. They are insatiable, always looking to bury themselves more deeply into a reality that no longer exists. Getting stuck in your comfort zone is like sinking deep into a beanbag; your backside’s starting to feel the hard floor beneath and you CANT get up and you can barely move.

There are two ways to break the cycle and stretch your comfort zone.

  1. Expand your circle, to include more ideas, people and possibilities. Invite them in. Welcome them.
  2. Step right out of your circle and into someone else’s or some new circle.

Think about the benefits. You may see solutions to problems you have been trying to solve for years with the same, habitual mindset. You may make friends and allies you never imagined. You may find hidden talents you didn’t know you had. You may discover yourself to be a greater person BY FAR than you ever imagined yourself to be; with more capacity and passion than your limited mind ever gave you opportunity to experience.

What is the motivation to burst out of the comfort zone in preference for the wide open spaces of reality? Not fear, not judgment and not guilt. It’s the motivation to BE more, to GIVE more, and to experience more, of what life has to offer. It doesn’t usually happen in one action. It is a trial and error dance, something like the hokey pokey.

Step out of the comfort zone with one foot first, dip your toe in, then pull it out and compare the feeling- which feels more alive? It’s like the difference between the feel of flowing and stagnant water. Put your hand in and feel the temperature of trust, then pull it out. The comfort zone can’t compare to the exhilaration of surrender.  In moments of brave abandon, put your whole self in and feel the freedom. Put your whole self in and shake it all about to fully experience what it is to truly be alive.

Once you’ve hokey pokeyed outside of the comfort zone, trust me, you won’t want to go back. It’s like your first time downhill skiing, terrifying and enlivening at the same time. Or the first time you free fall in love, frightening and irresistible in the same breath.  In these moments, you claim a new reality. You discover that you enjoy this new dance after all and wonder why it took you so long to give in to surrender’s charm. It’s these real life experiences of new freedom that give you insight into the true self, the one that was always meant to be and has nothing to fear or protect. It’s the hokey pokey theory of transformation- put your whole being in surrender’s dance and turn yourself around. That’s what it’s all about.

The hokey pokey is a nice analogy for stepping beyond the comfort zone. It’s a process of acceptance and growth; one foot accepting that you are complete and enough in each moment, the other stepping out and becoming more of who you are. For a child, this might be stepping beyond an identity based purely on yourself to including a family or group. Beyond that, it might involve stepping beyond your own tribe to include in the circle those who are different from you. Beyond that you might include all species, and future beings in your circle.

Ultimately, you might dip your toes in a cosmic perspective that includes all things known and unknown. I came across an English author named Joybell during the week. She offers a powerful perspective on comfort zones-

I have realized; it is during the times I am far outside my element that I experience myself the most. That I see and feel who I really am, the most! I think that’s what a comet is like, you see, a comet is born in the outer realms of the universe! But it’s only when it ventures too close to our sun or to other stars that it releases the blazing “tail” behind it and shoots brazen through the heavens! And meteors become sucked into our atmosphere before they burst like firecrackers and realize that they’re shooting stars! That’s why I enjoy taking myself out of my own element, my own comfort zone, and hurling myself out into the unknown. Because it’s during those scary moments, those unsure steps taken, that I am able to see that I’m like a comet hitting a new atmosphere: suddenly I illuminate magnificently and fire dusts begin to fall off of me! I discover a smile I didn’t know I had, I uncover a feeling that I didn’t know existed in me… I see myself. I’m a shooting star. A meteor shower. But I’m not going to die out. I guess I’m more like a comet then. I’m just going to keep on coming back.

There is so much potential beyond the comfort zone. Give it a try. Imagine what would happen if you stopped holding on for dear life and tried letting go for dear life. Let go of your carefully laid plans and your tightly controlled life in order to claim the dear Life that is waiting to greet you. It’s bigger and better than anything your over protective mind could dream up. As author Catherine Pulsifer wrote,

Your comfort zone is not a place that you want to remain in. Dare, discover, be all that you can be.

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  1. artemi says:

    So inspiring!!
    Love your site 🙂

  2. Sandi says:

    Words I really needed to hear!! I’m right there.

  3. jose silva says:

    Right, I always believe that a life lived best is a life you don’t control. Set your spirit free!

  4. Margaret says:

    I love this, as a reflection on age-ing.

  5. Anonymous says:

    So true… thanks for the reminder and the nudge..!

  6. naomi says:

    No-one really likes stepping outside of their comfort zone but it is the only way we can learn more and grow in my opinion.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Ian, and Naomi! This is just my opinion, but if the Church is to survive, what you said is the only way to go, I believe! Right on! Ditto, Ian!

  8. Nina Fox says:

    Beautifully articulated and “Spot On” Ian
    The comfort zone provides safety for those, Who has been deeply hurt and seems unable to trust anyone…   
    My comfort zone is within.  I know my strengths and weaknesses and I accept both.  I can be spontaneous and fly by the “seat of my pants” and always land on my feet.  My heart aches for those that live in fear.   To block themselves from happiness and learn to accept much isolation other than the Internet. 

  9. braintattoo says:

    Amazing!!! I like like very much. Thanks for this inspiration.

  10. Jason says:

    Being forced out of my comfort zone through unemployment, I’ve found things that I wasn’t involved in previously that I now enjoy learning about and doing. The unemployment opened a window to new opportunities. 

  11. JB says:

    I SO needed to read this today! Thank you for sharing!

  12. Christy B says:

    So true! Very inspiring!

  13. Excellent! Placing yourself in new and rich environments will empower and challenge you!

  14. Dre Callender says:

    To get where I am today and where I want to be tomorrow, means I live outside my comfort zone, as i want to experience something new, in my world, with anyone or thing that takes me to someplace in my mind, i have not explored before..


  15. Dre Callender says:

    This article has made my brain realise again to go out of my comfort zone whenver I can, as its fun 🙂

  16. Marith says:

    There is an expression in Swedish that follows: “don-t mess (move) my circles” , explanation, if you move my circles I will get unbalanced 🙂 or the beliefs that you were somehow moved or influenced by someone or something. I believe that it is important to invite influences to your personal circles (comort zones) as well as to step out of them from time to time. I believe that staying or holding on to ones circles (comfort zones) creates mental unbalance or even mental disorder. I believe there has to be a flow into the circles and a flow out of the circles, an exchange of inner wisdom 🙂 with other circles 🙂 (or comfort zones) Thank you for sharing and your inspiring words 🙂 //Märith

  17. Christine says:

    Thank you. Just wonderful!

  18. brian says:

    VERY well done.  TY for sharing!!

  19. tajhmahal says:

    so inspiring and timely,thanks.

  20. gordo says:

    Are you people on drugs? That writing is drivel, amplified. Let’s have some more. This is how it went… for the sake of global healing…. let’s add some more……It is FERRREEEE  for all!  Yea, don’t waste a moment! You only live ONCE ….. grow and let your mind flow…. release your job, open your life to the mysteries that divide the mundane treadmill rut in the ground days you are counting on your calendar called life –  from the wide and massive open streams of liberating life with others, the unemployed, the call of the wild beasts and buffalo – united one and all, open to what  hand in hand you reach for…… watch as you enter ‘newness’.  No more ‘controlled’ plans…….. such blow your mind cosmic thinking will inspire creative potential beyond the great beyond …….. yes, it is  freedom. L I V E ! Follow the itch and let it scratch……. widen your circle, nay –  erase the lines…. there are no lines once that toe’s been dipped, in and out and  shaken all about…… You’ve got it, now go get it!!  I get the idea but honestly, are you people bored?  By gum, by golly…….. to the author or ‘sharer’ of these particular soul seeds, it takes me back to the ‘women, burn your bra!’ days. Try it you’ll like it days. Frankly, yes women take those bras off, be unstrapped and men strap them on, go beyond your comfort zones, follow the newness of it all… stretch, expand, breathe in deeply!  YOU ARE THE  stratosphere of synergetic connection that will broaden your mindset and cast it hurling through the great unknown.  Think deeply.  As someone said, ‘We walk through the earth not on it.’Test the waters. Trial and error. That’s the way. 

  21. […] Neale Donald Walsch said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” That is SO true and SO important to remember. Life begins at the end of your com (RT @Soulseedzforall: To change is to grow, and to grow is move beyond your #comfortzone.  […]

  22. Bob Proctor says:

    I completely agree with you! What a important concept what you explain in this post Ian! Everyone has to be aware of the meaning of comfort zone and how to break it to achieve more things in their lives! 

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