The Comfort Zone Magic. Mythical rainbow farting unicorn land or epic coming alive realising your dream potential?
Hellloooo my lovelies!
So great to have you join in for another episode of THE AUDACIOUS BABE PODCAST.
More often than not unfortunately, we find ourself in the comfort of our own little bubble – the bubble of the comfort zone that we have created for ourselves.
A nice, quiet, comfortable and very secure place where we feel safe and routinely go on about our lives. We are rarely ever forced to leave the bubble and even if we are, we jump right back into it as soon as possible.
Because the outside – the unknown – is scary. BUT more often than not, this holds us back from ever achieving the aspirations we dream of, the things we desire the most. They seem almost unreachable to us.
You’ve probably heard this saying before “great things will happen outside of your comfort zone”.
But what does this actually mean?
It sounds like one of those generic phrases we are soooo used to hearing that they don’t actually have any effect on us anymore, whatsoever.
So what does this mean – comfort zone? And why should we do things outside of that apparent restricted area?
Well let me shed some light on this confusion by telling you a story about my teenage years. I will show you what my so-called comfort zone was and how I was forced to step outside of it. I will also show you what personal growth of EPIC proportions I experienced from that. How I can nowadays looking back on it, tell you that it dramatically changed the storyline of my entire life. Yup, that EPIC!
At the time I obviously did not realise this but now looking back, yup it was a major turning point in my life.
Shall we dive right in? Just FYI I will share some valuable tips in the very end that will help you to step out of your own little bubble. So bear with me. I’ve also create some lovely little printables to inspire you and to make that push to take your life into your own hands. If you want to see those, just opt-in below and I’ll send you the PDF straight into your inbox.
Right, so… You with me?! Then let’s get started!
What is the comfort zone…really?!
First let me get a bit scientific and explore what this comfort zone malarkey is actually about and what the definitions and conclusions are about this weird and somewhat mysterious zone… is it some kind of twilight zone where mystical unicorns exist and we all shoot rainbows out of our arses? Haha! I wish! However, magic does happen outside of that zone!
But first things first.
According to the Cambridge English Dictionary Website:
Comfort Zone is a situation in which you feel comfortable and in which your ability and determination are not being tested.
Wikipedia takes it even one step further and includes the psychological state of stress and anxiety levels into the equation:
A comfort zone is a psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person and they are at ease and in control of their environment, experiencing low levels of anxiety and stress. In this zone, a steady level of performance is possible.
So in common words the comfort zone is no freaking twilight zone but rather a range of motions you feel comfortable and at ease in – may it be a physical range of motion or mental ones.
And then this is described by your brain in stress and anxiety levels. The feeling of ease.
With this explanation of the comfort zone in mind, stepping out of that zone would mean behaviours that you do NOT feel at ease with. Your stress and anxiety levels will increase and maybe even physically you might start to sweat and your heart might beat faster.
Sounds all kind of terrifying doesn’t it? So why would anyone EVER step out of the zone willingly?
Well let me tell you why. Because AMAZING things happen once you are out of that zone.
That zone is comfortable.
A false reality if you so will.
A mundane and routine one.
That zone that makes you kinda lazy to be totally honest.
We all have this zone and naturally we all love to stay in it as human beings because we are sometimes all naturally lazy.
Or maybe not lazy but just looking for the path of least resistance.
If something proves to be difficult the first natural reaction is to stay the hell away from that? If we have to put some work and effort into something, we self doubt ourselves and almost can’t be bothered to begin with.
Believe me we have ALL been there.
And most often than not we do give in. We do choose the path of least resistance and can’t be asked to put some sweat and tears and uncomfortableness into it especially when we simply cannot foresee what outcome this might achieve. Is it even worth it?
Let me stop you right there. Hell yes, it is so totally worth it. Every. Single. Time. How do I know this? Because I’ve experienced it over and over again in my own life.
And I have trust in myself that I can turn it – whatever “it” is – into something freaking amazing if I just step out of my own bloody way and out of my comfort zone. And I know for a fact, you can do too!
Everything that you desire for your life that you don’t currently have lies outside your comfort zone. Michael Warden, 2012
Not only that. I would even go one step further and say that things you don’t even know that you might want or that you can’t ever imagine on happening at all, all lie in the outside circle of your comfort zone.
And to that I can tell you my own little story.
As a teenager and also somewhat as a child I’ve always been a shy kid. Not all the time, but certainly when I’ve hit puberty for sure. I always been more of an introvert according to the Myers-Briggs personality types (I gain energy from alone time and being with my own thoughts – but more on that maybe in another blog post). In hindsight looking back at it, I don’t think I was always shy, but just more quiet when it came to unknown people. And that just because more obvious when I hit puberty. Especially when it came to boys. Yup. I was kind of a late bloomer (at least compared to some of my friends) but once it hit me and I’ve noticed boys that way…well that was the end of me talking normal sentences to the opposite sex without getting sweaty palms, without blushing and turning into a red tomato and also without stumbling over words. Luckily for me that got better when I was older… However, as much as I’d like to embarrassingly reminisce about my shyness and puberty’s awkwardness, the reason I am telling you is to paint a picture how I was feeling around the age of 15 when I dreamed of this crazy idea of going to the US for an exchange year in high school. Just thinking about it, makes me smile. I can’t even tell you anymore why I wanted to go or what brought this on. I just had an inner urge to go and experience a year abroad. Little did I know just how much of an alternating impact this would have on my life path.
I just need to back up one sec here. When I was in 3rd grade, my brother who is 3 years older than me, was about to go to high school the following year – in Germany high school starts in 7th grade and goes up to 13th grade. In my small hometown we have three different high schools. So one week we all went out to look at all the different schools, so my brother could decide where to go. I went along. One night, and I remember this so vividly, we came across this science department of one of the schools and I got sooo excited. When I saw the Chemistry labs and all the equipment and students working, I was mesmerised. I knew that chemistry was a subject you wouldn’t be able to take until 9th grad. So I still had over 5 years to go. But I new even back then, my life is going to be in science. So no surprise 3 years later when it came down to me choosing a high school, I chose exactly that one with the stunning science department. When I hit 9th grade, and was able to select Chemistry… I fell in love. I knew I had a calling. The moment I did my first experiments, I simply knew this is what I wanted to study at university and what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing… haha boy oh was I wrong.
So come 11th grade, this I would be the year I was spending in the US. And here is where the actual story begins. I was giddy with excitement but also somewhat scared to make this trip over, all by myself – well not exactly all the other students from Northern Germany who were doing the same were with me when we flew over the big pond.
My hands were sweaty, my heart beat faster and I was scared shitless. Meeting a new family that was supposed to be my new family for a year was scary shit – especially for a shy 16 year old… But I loved my family. Opposed to what a lot of other exchange students had, I did not have a sibling around my own age that I could hang out with, or who would let me tag along to meet their friends. I had a 4year old little sister that I loved dearly though. But I didn’t even have a very exchange friendly high school. The school I attended had over 3000 students and I was the only exchange student!!! So basically I was alone! But this is where the comfort zone story begins. I was alone and knew no one at my school. Quite scary and frightening, being in a foreign country, away from your own family, not knowing anyone. And don’t forget I was an introverted shy kid who would have loved to hide and fly home immediately. But I wanted this and I know I had a desire to make this the best experience ever. Luckily I had host parents that were very supportive. My host mom would listen to my inner turmoil and give advice and just be there for me. And I love her dearly for it! So whenever I came home after school, whining about that I don’t know anyone, she would sit me down and give me a piece of paper and say “write down all the names of people at your school that you know the names of and that you have talked to for a few sentences past the initial hello.” And I did. It made me realise I knew more than I thought I did.
The thing is what you do not realise when you do an exchange program like this, is that all of your life, you’ve grown up with friends and family around you. Yes friends might have changed over the years, but in a slow and natural manner. Here, I was all of a sudden dropped into cold water and had no one. Didn’t know anyone plus didn’t even have my own family with me. So this realisation really threw me. BUT when you are dropped into the deep end, what do you do? Give up and drown? NO WAY! You swim. And so I did.
My host mom Leigh would make suggestions like, “tomorrow when you are driving to school in your bus, try to talk to the girl that is on your bus and also in one of your classes. Approach her and try talking to her. She won’t bite.” So the next morning I want out and conquered my first chat with a girl I know was on my bus and in one of my classes. We got talking in the morning and some of her friends approached. Some of which were in some of my other classes. And some were also in my lunch block. Who then invited me to have lunch with them every day for the entire semester. Because of this one step out of my comfort zone, I managed to meet some amazing people. Some of which to this day 18 years later I am still in contact with. Isn’t this amazing? The snowball effect that one step out of your bubble can achieve?
But this is only one part of the story. The other one is coming back to my calling for a career in science. Well that has totally changed. Within that year, even though I also took Chemistry in that school, I lost all passion for it. I discovered other things about myself. I discovered an artistic side of me – who would have known! I took up drawing and became fascinated by it. I’d draw fashion designs or dabbled in drawing the human body. I loved it. I also became more of a people person and couldn’t imagine being in a lab all day long anymore. So when I came back to Germany from my year in the US, I dropped all chemistry classes and took my A-levels in Art and English! Funny huh?!
Well, obviously this is just one small piece of many throughout a lifetime, but I hope you understand what point I was trying to make by sharing you a part of my story. Obviously at the time, I didn’t even realise this drastic change within myself. I just followed my gut and I certainly had no idea that this was a story of leaving my comfort zone bubble. But in hindsight, I can clearly tell that that was a turning point – an epic plot twist is the storyline of my life.
And it totally changed me. I became much more extroverted in life. I spoke up, I was speaking in front of large crowds. I even became a class representative within the student government of my high school in the US. I loved it. And this still follows me to this day. I am still an introvert at heart but thanks to that one single step outside of my bubble, I make it far towards the middle of the scale between being an introvert or an extrovert. I am now an extroverted introvert who thrives from being with people but still holds the balance and allowing myself to be connected to my inner thoughts and ideas.
Obviously this story shows you a very drastic step outside of the comfort zone that I took here – somewhat unconsciously. It doesn’t have to be this drastic. I can tel, you are already getting those sweaty palms just thinking about it. Don’t worry. It can be small steps, it can be tiny ones in fact. But this magic that happens outside of the comfort zone is real, my lovelies!
It is exciting, it is thrilling and yes, it is scary as hell, but hey, life is scary. Life is uncertain. So what?! Wouldn’t you rather do some amazing shit and realise your deepest dreams and desires along the way whilst being in this uncertainty?
You have this one life right now. Why not make it count and live it with passion, desire and fulfilment? Why shy away from freaking unicorns and rainbows in exchange for routine and mundane grind, just because it is safe and comfortable?
Do a happy dance and sing along your favourite song – be the one to take your life in your own hands. Join me on the outside of your bubble and let’s have a freaking partaaay!!
So lastly before I conclude this looong episode of me rambling – but this is a topic I am really passionate about, so I hope you’ve been able to bear with me so far – let me summarise this by providing you with 5 little tips that you can do immediately to help you to break out of your comfort zone today. Help you to keep those stress and anxiety levels at bay and really prepare you for the fun shit that is about to happen in your life!
To accompany those tips, I’ve created some lovely PRINTABLES to help you with pushing yourself out of your bubble. Just head over to riseandshinesociety.com/podcast and find episode number 4. Print them off and hang them on your wall, on your fridge or anywhere they might be useful and remind you to take your life into your own hands.
And 5 Little Tips To Get You There
Tip# 1: Challenge yourself every single day.
Try things a little bit different every day. Maybe start with small things like drive different route to work today. Or try out a different supermarket, or buy different food than you usually do. Go to a different restaurant for a change. Take a different lens to a shoot. You get the idea. Try to do something different every day. Break up that comfortable routine of yours. One step at a time.
Tip# 2: Get used to the feeling of uncertainty.
When you follow the stuff I mention in step 1, you are slowly getting used to small increases in your stress/anxiety levels. This is something you will grow used to over time. Then it is time to increase those challenges a little. Maybe start to talk to a random stranger at an event. Or chat with someone on the street. Go do something outrageous. Over time this will help you to get used to the uncertainty and your anxiety levels will stay the same.
Tip# 3: Start listening and trusting your instincts.
Over time when growing up, we tend to loose trusting our instincts. Our mind takes over and references past experiences or stories we’ve heard or things our parents always drilled into us. So we lost to trust ourselves. As kids were were more in tune with that. Start listening to your own inner feelings again and become more intuitive with those. Don’t over think things and simply follow your gut feeling.
Tip# 4: Face your fears.
This is one of the most important steps in my humble opinion. There are different types of fears. Some are fears of spiders or heights or similar. But we also experience subtle little fears every single day. Try to really become conscious and identify them in your daily life. Do you have fears of asking for help. Fears of putting yourself out there. Fears of eating sugar because you could gain 10 pounds in 10 seconds? All our lives are somewhat dictated by fears. Some fears are yours but some are really not. Some are influenced by family, society or what the media tells you. So really learn to identify the fears in your life, learn to distinguish what kind of fear it is, is it really yours or is it adapted from somewhere else? What can you do to face that fear and then go do it! So powerful! Boom!
Tip# 5: Breathe.
Lastly I want to leave you with a step that I’ve been doing recently more of. Breathing. And I don’t mean the breathing every day to survive, I mean to lie down somewhere comfortably and allow yourself to breath for 10min. I mostly do it at night when I have trouble sleeping. I sometimes use guided meditations for that too. I just helps you to quiet your mind, to release those anxiety and stress levels that you might hold on to. It helps with being more in the present and slow yourself down. Our lives are so hectic that having 10min to ourselves without our mind drifting off to the to do list for tomorrow, just simply sit or lay there and breath. Be in the present moment. Be in your body. Believe me, it will do wonders!
Right! So there you have it. I hope this episode was somewhat inspirational and useful. Follow the steps above and you will step out of your zone more often, you will experience personal growth and you will be able to really take your life into your own hands, realising your dreams and potentials.
Now, ready to party, my audacious babes?! Let’s do it!