Being pushed outside your comfort zone can be both a good thing or a bad thing, based on the context of the situation. Yes, it can be scary, overwhelming, and yet enlightening all at the same time. The answer to this debate of, Is it a good or bad thing to be pushed outside your comfort zone? will vary tremendously depending significantly on the situation at hand.
Neale Donald Walsch famously said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Most of us understand that great accomplishments will require us to step outside our comfort zone.
Staying in your comfort zone has a lot to do with fear. However, it’s important to remember the expression that the best things in life are on the other side of fear. Pushing past self-limiting fears can be incredibly rewarding.
It’s best to push yourself out of your comfort zone, rather than have someone in your life pushing you. If someone in your life is encouraging you to step outside your comfort zone for good reasons, that’s perfectly fine, but you never want to feel forced or strong-armed into it.
Leaving Your Comfort Zone Can Lead to Exponential Personal Growth
Many people believe that being pushed out of their comfort zone can lead to exponential personal growth.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Today, some of the most popular expressions about leaving your comfort zone include, Great things don’t happen in comfort zones and, If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.
Growing as a person can have life-changing effects on our realities. Human beings grow through personal experiences, starting from when we are born. As a baby, we would study our parent’s expressions and demeanor to learn about fundamental human interactions.
How we are raised as young children has long-term effects on us as adults, and shapes who we become as adults. Everything from our ability to love one another, to the level of fear or discomfort we feel in certain situations. Everyone has the ability to change their perspective on life by growing through a new experience.
Life is full of lessons which tend to repeat themselves until they are fully integrated into our consciousness. Have you ever noticed how sometimes you find yourself in a familiar situation? As if you have experienced this before? Most likely, you have.
These patterns are tools that help us to recognize aspects of our lives where we can change or grow. If personal growth is a goal of yours (which it absolutely should be), then having the ability to shift your perspective, try new things, or step outside your comfort zone sometimes, will help you achieve this goal.
There are many tools we can use to expand both our internal and external worlds. Understanding that we all have different levels of comfort in certain aspects of life is the first step. Recognizing when our comfort zones can be nudged a little will be equally as important.
Your Happy Place
People find things of comfort in life so they can let down their guards and feel at ease. We may not even realize we do it. A comfort zone simply means a situation or psychological state where a person feels comfortable, safe and without stress. Certain people, places and situations are well within our comfort zone, and it’s often people, places or situations that feel familiar and somewhat predictable. When you’re within your comfort zone, you’re likely at ease, and you feel some semblance of control over your environment. Your ‘happy place’ or happy places are likely examples of you in your comfort zone.
Below are a few examples:
- Familiar Travel Destinations. Some people keep traveling to the same places, instead of exploring new travel destinations. This often has to do with familiarity and comfort zones.
- Particular Restaurants. Having only a select few restaurants you like to eat at is common, sometimes because you have had a negative experience elsewhere.
- Familiar Job. Having the same position for an extended period and not being confident you could find a better one is an example of staying in your comfort zone.
- Friends. Only certain people you are comfortable spending time around. Some people might feel uncomfortable if their friend invites a new friend to hang out with them, which could be due to social anxiety.
- Home. Many people feel most comfortable at home, and therefore don’t leave the house as often as they should, consequently missing out on opportunities.
Why Do We Stay in Our Comfort Zone?
We build metaphorical walls around ourselves as a defense mechanism. To help protect ourselves from being hurt, dealing with fear, and feeling discomfort in our lives, we often stay in our comfort zone. There are many other ways we build barriers around ourselves, and breaking down those walls can be increasingly difficult.
People often stay in their comfort zones for the semblance of control one’s comfort zone offers, and the fact that it’s a more predictable situation for them.
Some people have very firm boundaries to ensure they are not pushed out of their comfort zone. But is it a good or bad thing to be pushed outside your comfort zone?
There are a multitude of different comfort zones in our lives, and evolving past them can lead to remarkable growth and an entirely new understanding of yourself. Self-discovery through stepping outside your comfort zone is a truly beautiful growth experience.
As with many things in life, there is always a chance that what we have planned doesn’t go our way. Whether you ‘allow’ it or not, chances are you’ll get pushed outside your comfort zone sometimes.
Being Pushed Outside Your Comfort Zone Can Be Both Positive and Negative
Being pushed outside your comfort zone could lead to a positive change in your reality and personal growth, giving you a feeling of more confidence and power in your life. Stepping outside of our comfort zone expands our horizons, helps us grow, and makes us more well-rounded individuals with a better sense of self.
It’s a good thing to step outside your comfort zone when:
- You apply for a better job
- You try a new hobby
- Start a new business venture
- Travel to new destinations
- Try expanding your dating pool
- Discovering new cuisines leads to more enjoyment of food
- Speaking up at a meeting (despite being uncomfortable with public speaking) leads to recognition.
Sometimes, stepping outside of your comfort zone is great, because you end up stepping out of mediocrity and into a better life.
On the flip side, being pushed outside your comfort zone can sometimes be a negative or traumatic experience, depending on the context of the situation. If you’re pushed outside your comfort zone and it leads to a traumatic experience, you could end up holding onto trauma or even risk developing PTSD. Trauma or negative experiences may lead to becoming withdrawn and overly cautious.
Maintaining free will within our worlds is essential to human existence. Free will enables you to use your inner power and intuition to make well-informed choices of what is best for you. If someone pushes your boundaries and forces you out of your comfort zone for their benefit, depending on the situation, it could be traumatizing.
We have all likely experienced or heard about the childhood stage called “the terrible twos.” Around this age is when we developmentally feel the need to assert ourselves and take power over our actions and decisions. Years ago, the way for many parents to deal with this stage was to bark orders, use threats, or force control over situations because they ‘knew better’ than their child. However, parenting books are now stating that this could have harmful consequences for children later in life. Many childhood experts are now sharing new ways to coach children through these growth phases. Allowing children simple choices within safe parameters can give children the sense of control they require, teaching them to make good choices while also staying within reason for the parents.
The desire for having control over what happens to us is something we have as children and as adults. If that ability is taken away by being forced out of your comfort zone or having important personal boundaries pushed, you can end up with emotional scarring. Healing the wounds left behind can be pretty challenging.
These wounds can present themselves in a multitude of different ways, and each will depend on the cause of the trauma. Below are some examples of how emotional scarring can manifest:
- Eating Disorders
This next section may be difficult to read for some of you, especially those who have experienced similar life events. Please feel free to skip to the next section if this is you. Sadly, we live in a world with no shortage of trauma.
What does “Trauma” actually mean?
As defined by the American Psychological Association, “Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape, or natural disaster. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer-term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships, and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea.”
A traumatic event can happen anytime, anywhere. Some traumatic life experiences cannot be avoided, such as car accidents, hurricanes, and plane crashes. In contrast, other traumatic events are caused by someone else. This includes sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse. In these circumstances, being pushed outside your comfort zone by someone else can be a very negative experience. We can even trigger trauma ourselves by pushing past limits when we are not quite ready.
If you or someone you know may need help recovering from trauma, start by booking a therapy session with a local registered clinical counselor. Therapists have plenty of resources they can share to help heal from trauma, in addition to talk therapy.
Recognizing the Signs You’re Ready to Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
When it comes to stepping outside your comfort zone, it can be very beneficial in various situations. You might meet ‘the one’ by pushing yourself to date outside of your ‘usual type’. You could find your dream job by putting yourself out there by applying for a new job. It’s possible you’ll discover how healing solo travel can be once you step outside your comfort zone by going on a trip by yourself.
Choosing to open the doors to new possibilities and step outside your comfort zone may be difficult for some people, but as the saying goes, Get comfortable being uncomfortable. You may have been hiding behind the walls you built your whole life, and they have grown to feel safe and familiar. If you’ve been wondering what else the world has to offer if you stop hiding, you could be ready.
The desire to discover something greater is something we are all programmed for, as is the desire to become greater ourselves.
Below are some signs you’re ready to push yourself outside of your comfort zone:
- Drawn to Something or Someone New
- Stagnant or Bored
- Doubting Yourself Often
- Tired of Repeating Patterns
- Desiring Something Greater in Life
When you notice these signs, you can start adding small changes to your daily routine, then try some bigger changes. Try a new cuisine, try smiling at a stranger, or taking the scenic route home. Then try a new hobby, try learning a new skill, or try exploring a new relationship such as making a new friend.
Expanding Your World
Breaking down the barriers of comfort zones can lead to some beautiful discoveries. Every time you do something for the first time you create new pathways on your journey. You may experience a host of new firsts in your life.
When you decide to change something within your reality, you open up an entirely new world of possibilities. These changes can be big or small. They are whatever you feel comfortable doing. You are in control of your experience.
Here are some simple ideas you can try, to expand your horizons:
- Try New Food(s). Trying new cuisines is something anyone can try. Access to new foods is relatively easy these days. Try a fresh fruit, go to a new restaurant, or cook a dish from the new cookbooks in your cupboard. Maybe you like it. Maybe you don’t. Either way, you successfully open yourself to a world with more choices.
- Travel Somewhere You’ve Never Been. Travel to an exciting new destination, which helps you leave your comfort zone as you explore a new country, city or town.
- Try Facing a Fear. We all know someone who is fearful of spiders or other creepy crawlers. It may even be you! If it is, try observing one from a safe distance and getting closer when you feel comfortable. Try facing other fears as well. Every time we face a fear, we become stronger and gain confidence.
- Learn a New Skill. Whether you’re reading an educational book or self-educating through online resources, it’s fun to learn a new skill. Perhaps you could teach yourself how to refurbish old furniture, and you’ll end up transforming old dressers and desks into beautiful pieces for your home.
Expanding your knowledge can become almost addicting. A euphoric feeling of accomplishment comes with realizing you can do something you once thought impossible – something you didn’t know you were capable of. Nothing can stand in your way when you realize the true power you hold within.
Discover More About Yourself by Leaving Your Comfort Zone More Often
When you start to push yourself out of your comfort zone, be sure not to push yourself too hard. Trust your gut, and don’t let anyone push you to do something unreasonable. Being pushed outside your comfort zone is all about exploration, but it should never be traumatic.
When you start leaving your comfort zone more often, you’ll learn new things about yourself, and you’ll discover what you’re made of.
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- 6 Fears You Need To Get Over Before Traveling Solo (Erica Gordon) https://www.thebabereport.com/6-fears-you-need-to-get-over-before-traveling-solo/
- Trauma (American Psychological Association) https://www.apa.org/topics/trauma#:~:text=Trauma is an emotional response,symptoms like headaches or nausea.