Comfort Zone Equals Danger Zone

by Belinda Munoz on November 5, 2009

red-hot stiletto

  • Reading a good book in an easy chair by candlelight
  • Taking a nature walk in a small rural town
  • Exchanging travel stories with nice neighbors
  • Vege-ing out in front of Dave Letterman
  • Laughing, clinking wine glasses in celebration with friends and family

These are heart-warming, often non-confrontational, non-threatening slices of life we’ve come to expect, look forward to or possibly even take for granted.  Moments within our comfort zone.  Always welcome.  They’re the woolen socks and mittens to our hands and feet on a chilly day.

Our comfort zone is home to us.  In our comfort zone, we can be effortlessly real in our jeans, a hoodie and sneakers.  It’s where the men can ditch their sharp Sunday best, and the women can keep the red-hot stilettos safely stored in a box.

There’s no pressure to dazzle anyone in the comfort zone.  We’re all family here.

WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE?

Nothing.  Nothing at all.

Except…

Sometimes, our comfort zone equals danger zone.

HOW?

Why on earth would anyone trade in solid, comfy, broken-in sneakers for brand-new, circulation-cutting, strappy stilettos?  (Men, please bear with me on this analogy.)  Surely not for the men?  Not for the women?  Certainly not for the children!

The danger in staying within our comfort zone is its one-dimensionality.  Not to say that our loved ones are one-dimensional and not worth dressing up for.  Not at all.  But they’re most likely not going to surprise or challenge us.  Not usually, anyway.  And if they ever do, they’ll love us always.  There’s a predictability there, wouldn’t you say?

In the same manner, our trusty old sneakers will almost always lead us where we’re safe, where we’re on even footing, where we can confidently and securely follow a path.

The danger, then, is in the safety of it all.

BUSTING OUT OF OUR COMFORT ZONE

When we women have an occasion to wear our pinching stilettos, or fancy dress shoes for the men, we’re most likely going to be meeting strangers and dialing up the sparkling conversation.  We may have to endure being in these ouch-inducing shoes for hours.  Or heaven forbid, with a little help from really bumpin’ music, we may be forced to dance and prance around in them, dogs barking, balance eroding, head spinning, senses failing, insecurities radiating.

HOW IS ANY OF THIS MISERY GOOD, YOU ASK

When we step out of our comfort zone, there are challenges that await us.  There are surprises lurking from who knows where.  And/But, there’s always a chance we’ll end up having a gloriously, deliciously, riotously, unexpectedly grand time.

Because we could have an especially deepening time in the process.

Because we could end up emerging as kick-ass superheroes we never imagined we could be.

Because we could be meeting a really cool person: a potential husband to our sister, our niece’s future art teacher, or a prospective donor to our cause.  Someone who just might be easily absorbed into our comfort zone.  Someone we wouldn’t mind seeing in jeans, a hoodie and sneakers.

And if by some remote chance nothing fabulous ever happens, then we at least got a sneak preview of what lurks in the vast pool outside the comfort zone.  A zone we’ll keep going back to, in our trusty ole sneakers, where everyone’s love for us awaits, undiminished, whenever we step out of it in our fancy footwear.

MORE PINCH ON THE FEET, PLEASE!

It may not be my place to judge, but, it seems rather dull, and possibly dangerous for our well-being, to only do what we feel safe doing all the time.

Sexy stilettos or not, in life, there are numerous opportunities to rock our world, so to speak.  With the holidays on the horizon, we have an easy opportunity to step a little bit outside of our comfort zone.  For starters, if we don’t usually throw parties, we could plan to host a simple celebration and maybe invite a few people who aren’t already in the family.  Or, if we usually buy presents for everyone, we could instead take that money and spread it around as donations to several local homeless shelters and food banks.

The point is we should be stepping out of our comfort zone while we can.  We should be getting banged up, getting our hearts broken, getting laughed at, getting booed, getting holes in our safety net, at least a little bit.  Life is, after all, meant to be lived, not merely spent in hibernation in the comforts of home.

While predictability, security and safety are things we crave when we don’t have them, we have to fight inertia at least once in a while.

Because we won’t always be able to.

Because one day, we won’t get to choose what shoes to wear.

YOUR FORMERLY-DANGER-ZONE-TURNED-COMFORT-ZONE EXPERIENCE

Have you ever ventured out into the danger zone and found that you loved the experience?  If so, please share with the readers.

…and the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~ Anais Nin

Image by Jillian Anne Photography

{ 5 trackbacks }

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On the Magnificence and Wholeness of Our Masterpiece — the halfway point
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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ideas With A Kick November 5, 2009 at 4:59 am

I sometimes take ‘comfort zone brakes’, when I simply stay in it. It’s like a vacation from getting out of it. But if I make it to long, like a sabbatical, then a totally lose the habit of going outside my comfort zone and growing as a person.

Eduard

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2 Adventures of The Fearless November 5, 2009 at 11:07 am

Growth comes on the border of comfort and discomfort. Good article

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3 Jeffrey Tang November 5, 2009 at 1:25 pm

One of the best (or worst, depending on your point of view) things about the social media movement is that it blurs the line between our comfort zone and discomfort zone – at least in terms of privacy. There’s a lot more room for creativity this way.

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4 LPC November 5, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Oh yes. Was just thinking about this today. Remember my 3 month long trip to India at the age of 25. Wanted to come home almost every day, but will never forget to cease to value the experience.

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5 Patty - Why Not Start Now? November 5, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Hi Belinda – Can I wear stylish flats instead of stilettos? Because even though it’s for a good cause, I know my bunions would act up. But seriously, I have created my home to be super comfortable. And as much as I love it, it sucks me in sometimes and makes me too comfortable. So I’ve got to get out more, and everything you say is right on. But I’m also interested in Jeffrey’s comment. I think to get out of our comfort zones we need to have new experiences. Is social media a true experience? Or is it another way to veg out? I wonder because so often I hear clients say they spend too much time on facebook or twitter or the like. They get sucked in and it keeps them from having the experiences they want to have. Oh, my biggest venture into the danger zone was when I was 26 and sold everything I owned to move 3000 miles to NYC to try to make it as an actor. I was there for two years. I wouldn’t say I loved it all the time but I don’t regret it for a minute, even though it didn’t work out the way I planned.

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6 Amit Sodha - The Power Of Choice November 6, 2009 at 8:57 am

I like the closing sentiment about stepping outside the comfort zone and whenever people come to me I drill this into them. Some people understand this concept and immediately recognise what it will do for them. Others do not and go back to the couch. I can’t even begin to describe the things i’ve got from stepping out of the comfort zone.

Amit

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7 Malo November 6, 2009 at 10:36 am

This is my problem. I love my family and the few friends I have within my small world.

The last time I ventured out of my safety net, I met my husband 🙂 I wonder what’s going to happen if I go all out again? A new job? Not a bad idea!

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8 Justin-AlittleBetter.net November 6, 2009 at 2:50 pm

There is definitely something to be said for this. I know that I get restless if I’ve been in my comfort zone for too long. In fact I’m getting restless now. Perfect timing.

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9 Liberty November 6, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Belinda, while I was reading this blog “…. a potential husband to our sister….”, it appeared that the blog was written for me :-). I do agree that I am in my comfort zone.

One of my co-workers invited me to a formal party. I did say “yes, I’ll go”. Then later I learned that she actually wants to introduce me to a guy. I felt uncomfortable…but anyway I borrowed a formal dress from my sister and decided to get out of the comfort zone…hehehe.

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10 Ben Leon Guerrero November 6, 2009 at 10:28 pm

Belinda,

Of all your posts this might be my favorite.I had to look at myself instead of others. And I realized something, which is that my comfort zone is being a complainer. I always thought of it as being someone who stood up for what I believe, which is still true, but I see there can be a way it becomes “comfortable”. I am comfortable pointing fingers, maybe not so comfortable pointing a finger at myself.
I am resolving to complain better, learn how to do communicate difficult feelings without necessarily turning it into confrontation.
I will still stand strong for my convictions, please do not misunderstand. But I will be better if I get out of the comfort zone of simply looking at others and telling them what they do wrong.

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11 Madeleine November 9, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Belinda, This is such an interesting choice of topic. I’ve thought a lot about comfort zones and, as a person growing old, I make a conscious effort to enlarge my own comfort zone.

You could say that personal growth depends upon expanding your comfort zone. If you push yourself, you may well surprise yourself! I know I did last year when i entered a humorous speech contest. To experience a roomful of poeople laugh with delight over and over changed my idea of what I can do. What a thrill!

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12 Belinda Munoz November 9, 2009 at 10:31 pm

@everyone, thanks for all the great comments and for sharing your thoughts and experiences!

@Patty, thanks for sharing your NYC story. I myself wouldn’t be caught dead in stilettos (I have balance issues!) so of course, you have permission to wear stylish flats (just as I’ll be wearing chunky boots). You bring up a great point. That when we venture out of our comfort zone and things don’t work out as planned, the adventure itself, the process, is something to relish and celebrate.

@adventures of the fearless, thanks for the compliment and for visiting!

@amit, yeah, often we don’t know how valuable an experience stepping beyond our comfort zone will be. We hear about it, we talk about, but we won’t know how great it is until we do it. Thanks for the visit!

@Madeleine (same spelling as Madeleine Albright!), nice to see you around here! That must’ve been a bit like what stand-up comedians do. It’s something I admire a lot (as I love to laugh) but never think I could do. Maybe one day…

@Ben, you have a way of really making me feel good about writing these posts. I am very happy to know that I’ve helped you a little bit. As always, thank you.

@Liberty, how exciting! I hope you let me know how it turns out!

@Malo, ha! Say yes to adventures, husbands and new experiences!

@LPC, thanks so much for sharing what I gather to have been a really challenging experience for you. And it sounds like you learned a lot from it which brings me to my point, similar to Patty’s point, that when we venture out of the comfort zone, we might not enjoy every moment of it but we can’t help but but learn from the experience.

@Justin, I hear the call of restlessness.

@Jeffrey, to add to your thought, the interactive nature of social media enhances creativity, I think, yet on the other hand, Patty raises an interesting point — is social media just another way to veg out?

@Ideas with a Kick – isn’t it interesting that wherever we are, we’d rather be somewhere else? It reminds me of that one Seinfeld episode.

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