Alternate Perceptions Magazine, November
Embracing Your Discomfort Zone
by: Stan Prachniak, MBA
At some point in your life, you have probably heard someone say, “you have to step outside of your comfort zone,” or something along these lines. While it is true that most people tend to take a path of least resistance or live their lives in such ways that do not result in much (or any) discomfort, this doesn’t mean that they are consciously making the decision to do so—many things we do happen on a subconscious level. We are creatures of habit and some habits bringus comfort, and habits like these can be difficult to break for that reason.
Let’s take a look how a person might “step outside of their comfort zone” and alter a habit.
First of all, being aware or becoming aware that a habit exists is essential to the process of transformation. Making meaningful change requires you to understand what it is that you are attempting to change. There are some things that occur so often in life that a habit can form around how we respond to such circumstances and situations. For example, there are numerous times in life that require a person to speak in front of an audience. Whether the audience is a just a handful of people or a room of hundreds, many individuals experience discomfort in situations like these. If a person is uncomfortable speaking in public, there is likely a habit that has formed to help them deal with or avoid scenarios that might put them in this situation. When the dreaded words, “Do we have any volunteers?” are spoken, the subconscious habits will kick in. Some examples might be excusing themselves from the room, avoiding eye contact with the speaker, or they may have already strategically placed themselves at the back of a crowded area of the room to go unnoticed. There is likely a strong belief behind these behaviors of avoidance. The belief is probably in the form of a thought or statement like, “I hate talking in front of people.”
Let’s evaluate this example and see what steps might be taken to help this person embrace their discomfort zone and change their behavior in scenarios like these. First, they must identify that they engage in avoidance behaviors when faced with the fear of public speaking. Once they are aware that certain behaviors surface in these situations they can move to the next step, which is challenging their beliefs. If their belief is that they “hate talking in front of people,” then they have to challenge this. Do they really “hate” it? Probably not. It is more likely that something happened once, maybe more, that embarrassed them while they were talking in a group of people. A more reasonable way to view this area of discomfort is that public speaking makes them nervous—a very normal reaction. Embracing this nervousness and reframing their thoughts to something that will encourage them to experience being uncomfortable will foster positive personal growth.
Freedom To Change offers a way for you to become the best version of yourself by embracing your discomfort zone and challenging the beliefs that surround you each day. For more information on the Freedom To Change materials, visit www.freedom2change.org.