I was assigned to prepare and present a speech while I was in high school. At the time I was lacking faith and confidence in myself. I remember standing in front of my twenty classmates feeling out of my comfort zone completely.
My legs were shaking and I couldn’t do anything about it. The amount of attention I felt made me forget what I had prepared to say. At least I had the paper with the written speech that helped me to convey the message but the teacher wasn’t pleased. Of course, I didn't even lift my eyes off the notes!
This is how the zone of discomfort feels like. It makes you desire to disappear in the ground. It’s a state that very few find pleasure in. However, we've all heard an urging suggestion to step out of our comfort in order to learn something new or overcome fears.
I have to admit, the results are appealing, but the stress, discomfort, and the unknown scares us. I guess it’s a part of our nature that tries to avoid danger.
I’m going to be bold and state that leaving your comfort zone is not the best advice. It might work for some, but they won’t wait to hear the proposal of going out. They are already out right now!
Don’t get me wrong, we shouldn’t stay where the comfort is. It is vital for the improvement of who we are and what we are capable of. We shouldn’t allow any fear or sense of insecurity to stop us from becoming someone we believe we can be.
My case against leaving the comfort zone completely
People are not natural warriors. Our brains are wired in such a way that we tend to avoid difficulties and take the road of least resistance. It’s sad to say, but it seems that many people want their lives to be pure comfort.
The bad news is that the comfort zone tends to be shrinking if we are not purposefully expanding it. If you’d stay at home alone for a very long time, you’d start to feel less and less comfortable with the idea of having to speak to someone. If we don’t have a desire to progress, regress takes place. Nothing is static in the world we live in.
I’ve noticed that complete stepping out of the state of security and predictability often leads to damage. Like my personal experience with public speaking, resulted in something more like trauma than empowerment.
It’s funny that sometimes we miss the simple principles of life. If you start to go to the gym you shouldn’t grab the weight that you barely can lift up. Although that puts you completely out of your comfort zone, it’s not going to give you the benefit you desire.
You should come as close to the border of your ability as you can in order to expand it.
The hurt we experience due to massive discomfort takes a long time to heal. We tend to have a higher resistance towards the thing we’ve been hurt by.
The bigger discomfort is the bigger damage it can potentially make and the longer it will take to recover from it. Therefore, the growth as a human being will be slowed down because we bit a bigger chunk than we could chew.
Do you know why you get disappointed in yourself? Why there’s a lack of motivation to move forward?
It comes from losses. We try to go out and embrace something new, but we fail because of the intensity that we can’t cope with. Failure after failure and there’s not much confidence left in us to reach the point of victory.
That’s where I found myself many times in life. I got disappointed in my failed efforts to progress in life and gave up. Why even try? I was playing piano in front of hundreds of people for many years since I was little but when it came to speaking in front of my class, I fell apart.
If leaving your comfort zone doesn’t bring you the benefits you desire, it produces negative results. That’s where the lack of confidence takes place, as well as disappointment, frustration and lack of motivation.
The only answer you need
The solution is quite simple. It’s not about leaving the area of comfort but expanding it.
See it as the occupation of a foreign land. Your comfort zone is your land and the area of discomfort is like the territory of the enemy. It’s not the best idea to jump into the land of your rival (which is fear) and fight him being surrounded from all the sides. You don’t have chances to win like that!
The best strategy is to attack from your territory claiming the enemy's land piece by piece.
It’s not about leaving the area of comfort but expanding it.
We have enough strength to win against the fear when we have enough desire to do it. We are unstoppable when it comes to the achievements we eagerly desire.
The mistake is that we jump in all-in and getting overwhelmed. Only when we know our capability and where the borderline separating comfort and discomfort is, we can conquer everything by many victories of small battles.
Having the ability to be leaning on the comfortable allows you to make sure progress forward. This kind of success becomes the fuel for motivation to move forward that cannot be easily quenched.
It will come a day when you’ll look back and be amazed at the progress and the distance you walked. Big achievements in life consist of numerous tiny steps that seem insignificant individually.
It all comes down to knowing yourself. Where are you know and where do you want to be? I knew I was shy to speak in from of people, but I wanted to be able to say what I want no matter the circumstances.
What’s the area in your life you want to see a change? I suppose you already know it if you’re reading this.
What’s the smallest step you can take? It has to be something you’re not doing, something that you’re not comfortable with but you feel a certainty that you can do it.
Then do it!
After that repeat, until you reached the goal you desire. Apply reverse engineering and instead of brainstorming how to make your life more comfortable, think about how to make it a bit less comfortable, and as you apply and uncomfortable becomes comfortable make another step.
You know the battles you can win. Don’t hesitate and proclaim victory over them. There is no insignificant step towards the end goal. There is only temptation to grab more than you can handle and be stopped in your tracks. Don’t get tricked!
Don’t listen to someone saying that you should jump into a pit full of spiders to get rid of your arachnophobia (phobia of spiders). The experience will overwhelm you and you’ll only increase your fear. Instead, when you see one spider on your wall take your slipper and do what’s necessary. Next time, you’ll have the confidence to deal with a couple of them and it won’t be as daunting. That’s the growth and conquest of a new territory.
I didn’t achieve any success by speaking in front of my class because I was completely out of my comfort zone. It left me more hurt than gave me boldness. I felt a lot of discouragement and shame because of my lack of ability.
However, I didn’t give up but started to take smaller steps, for example, calling my teacher instead of texting or asking a question in a class when I would rather be quite. Little by little, I saw my confidence grow.
Now, I can say a speech without any preparation in front of many people and actually enjoy it.
If I did it, you can also!
Subscribe to my newsletter.