Here’s the simple focus of this blog post: our Comfort Zones are really our servants, not our masters. More specifically, our Comfort Zones respond to pressure – from the INSIDE, not just the outside.

This is the part of the blog post where you should be up dancing for joy, cheering and throwing confetti. Really! Most of us have given away WAY too much lifespan to letting our Comfort Zone (our fears and worries) call the shots in our lives. Yes?

We don’t have to do that anymore. We have the Comfort Zone’s number now – we get how it works, and we get why we run away from our fears. We have the tools and the power to take our lives back from the Comfort Zone.

And besides – the Comfort Zone isn’t to blame anyway. WE told it that this or that problem was really a crisis, and that it was way too scary to have to face. So it just did what it evolved to do – it started being the sheepdog for us, keeping us away from the wolf of our fears.

Thank you Comfort Zone. Job well done. But there isn’t really a wolf out there, you see. No tigers here. In our fear we’ve let you get WAY too small, and WAY to constrictive. We’re tired of being jerked around like puppets because we’re not conscious of our fears and worries. We want control back in our hands.

Pushing Back on The Comfort Zone – A Construction Project

Here’s an example from my own life. I may have mentioned that when people began telling me that it would be smart to start doing video blog posts I was a little leery of the whole idea. I’m not exactly Brad Pitt or anything, I often talk too fast when I get enthusiastic, and I don’t have access to a film studio or anything…

Hear the Comfort Zone already making its move? The truth was I was anxious about the idea of making videos of myself, so my defense went up and I just avoided the whole thing.

I was also very unsure of myself around video equipment – thought I’d have to learn a lot of technical stuff about light and sound and stuff, and wasn’t confident I could do that well enough to do good work.

But people continued to mention this, and as I read about other blogs and what worked for different kinds of readers I knew I needed to face this little monster down.

The funny thing about this subject is that I’m REALLY interested in learning how to make/create movies. Can’t really be afraid of cameras and do that, right? And I mean who cares if I’m not Brad Pitt? Even Brad Pitt has bad hair days! 🙂

So I started goofing around with the flipcam I’ve had for almost a year. And guess what? It was pretty remarkable. Just making one video proved to challenge my Comfort Zone, and the next time I got in front of the camera it was easier.

The Comfort Zone Needs Persuading…

That isn’t to say that my Comfort Zone just stepped aside and said “whatever you say boss – you’re in charge.” Hardly! Nope, I created that first video and thought I was becoming Cecile B. DeMille, but when I made my second video I was still pretty raw in the lighting department, and people told me hey Erik, nice video and everything, but it would be good if we could SEE you. 🙂

Immediately my Comfort Zone said “you see? You’re not very good at this, and you’ve already upset some people. Let’s just go back to that nice safe writing stuff – MUCH better, and you’re less likely to be criticized.” Amazing, isn’t it?

So I had to keep pushing. You probably know the way this works. I would plan to take the flipcam downstairs to the TV room or the kitchen – maybe right after lunch. Then I’d finish lunch and I’d find myself listing reasons why today wasn’t the best day to make a video.

I need to wash this particular shirt first
I should probably finish my invoices for my consulting work first – money is more important
I’d be more relaxed if I hit the gym first – yeah, let’s do the gym, THEN the video
Maybe I should just skip the video this time…

My Comfort Zone wasn’t persuaded – not yet.

So I Just Went Ahead and Made The Stinkin’ Video!

And I kept at it. I shake my head (now with a dozen or so videos under my belt and me about to hit Fry’s to look for the next generation Flipcam) how much I fought this. But that’s the way the Comfort Zone rolls – it needs to be SURE you really want to face this scary thing. One push wasn’t going to be enough – I was going to have to push and push again.

But the pushing doesn’t take forever. In fact I moved through this relatively small to mid-sized worry in about 3 weeks – and that might have been 6-7 hours of work over that time. Not much to have gained this particular amount of freedom in my life/thinking/behavior.

Where would You like to push back on your Comfort Zone? Where would you like to stop being afraid of your Flight or Fight Responses, or at least diminish your fear of those warning signals?

Remember – the energy cost to maintain the Comfort Zone walls isn’t any greater than it is to challenge them and move them back – and in fact in a short amount of time you’ll be spending WAY less energy challenging them than in maintaining them.

To review: The Comfort Zone, however much it is trying to shut down or restrict your life at the moment, will respond to pressure to move back. Looking for a little extra room? Here’s the great part – you can be your own contractor – you can move that wall yourself.

This takes time, energy and a willingness to look under the bed for the monster you’re afraid might be there – but you are more than a match for all of that. Yes, you can expect some pushback in the form of Flight or Fight Responses, and we all know those can be scary.

But that’s precisely the point of this discussion. It’s only scary because we’re AFRAID of it – not because there is necessarily anything actually dangerous going on. The Comfort Zone is in our heads – and we can confront it and push it back there as well.