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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

What Defines My Comfort Zone


 In preparation for an interview tonight on http://2012writersalive.blogspot.com - I believe the interview will be posted tomorrow on that website - I decided to look up the word comfort zone. I have long believed that in order to live life to the fullest, to love and accomplish, people must step out of their comfort zones. Jesus told Peter to step out of the boat.

Wikipedia says, "The comfort zone is a behavioral state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviors to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk"  Most people, when asked, claim that they like to live in their comfort zone, free from risk and stress. For some, the idea of stepping out of their comfort zone means talking to a stranger on a street corner. They agonize and sweat bullets at the thought. But do they actually remain inside their zone all the time?

Wikipedia adds, "A person's personality can be described by his or her comfort zones. Highly successful people may routinely step outside their comfort zones, to accomplish what they wish." Does that mean that people, who live a relatively stress-free, risk-free life, are not as successful as they could be? I guess that depends on what you consider success. I know that when I was raising children, I wanted them inside my comfort zone at all times. When that happened, I considered my life successful. I didn't like it when they took risks and my stress levels escalated accordingly.

Wikipedia goes on to say that our comfort zone is a type of mental conditioning. "It causes a person to create and operate mental boundaries. Such boundaries create an unfounded sense of security. Like inertia, a person who has established a comfort zone in a particular axis of his or her life, will tend to stay within that zone without stepping outside of it." I remember years ago, when I experienced a failed relationship, I wanted nothing to do with falling in love again. Someone said to me, at that time, that love was part of living. Love was a risk and remains a risk to this day. Whenever we fall in love with anything or anyone, we risk the pain of losing it or them. The risk takes us out of our comfort zone, doesn't it?

Wikipedia describes stepping outside a comfort zone as experimenting with new and different behaviors. New and different behaviors bring new and different responses. A few years ago, I took lessons to become certified as a scuba diver. This wasn't so far out of my comfort zone, I thought, because I liked being in water. But when I actually descended to the 28 foot level for the certification test, I was definitely out of the boat. Taking deep breaths; I took control of the panic, and passed the test. That day, I felt successful.

The feeling of accomplishment one garners when they've stretched themselves never leaves. In fact is almost makes one feel indestructible. "If I can do that, I can do anything." Today, there are whole segments of society who are risk junkies. They can't get enough so they take bigger and more dangerous risks, hoping to hang on to that ultimate high of accomplishment.

I believe there needs to be a balance and I also believe that it depends on who is asking us to step out of our comfort zone. The perpetrators of businesses that encourage extreme sports for example, do not care two hoots about me as a person. They care about their company's reputation and ask that I sign a disclaimer, protecting their hides. So I need to have some discernment.

On the other hand, I know that God cares about me...loved me so much that He sent His Son to die for me...so when He asks me to step out of the boat, He is asking for my good. Whatever He asks me to do, will make me a better person, enlarge my vision, build my self-esteem, and grow me as a Christian. Stretching what I believe about myself is all part of it but it also stretches what I believe about God, too. I learn to trust God a little more than before and I learn that He is faithful...always.

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Well done, Barbara! You bring insight and balance to this contemporary topic. I especially appreciate how you wrap up your conclusion.