Tracy's Wellness Journey: Stuck in the Comfort Zone?
Often, we find ourselves in situations that have us seeking shelter or retreating to what we know as our comfort zone — a safe, familiar and predictable place. It’s something we create.
Comfort zones are dangerous, though. They’re typically surrounded by change and filled with avoidance. Change being the things we know would be good and healthy but do not pursue, and avoidance being the pain or fears that are associated with those changes.
Pain and fear keep us stuck. We lock ourselves behind the proverbial invisible doors and do not journey beyond them in order to avoid discomfort. If this was occasional behavior, it would not be a big deal. But for many, this comfort zone becomes a way of life in which we avoid anything that might be painful.
I have spent the better part of two decades attempting to break free of the comfort zone. But there’s a deep embedded pattern of avoidance. Yes, I tend to avoid anything that could potentially rock the boat or create pain in my life.
I first recognized this pattern while trying to separate from a dysfunctional relationship. Essentially, my desire for change finally outweighed my fear of pain and possible failure. I was ready to face my comfort zone head on. It was not easy to do, and I still struggle in certain areas.
I recently read in a Psychology Today blog that “merely escaping pain is not enough for us. We insist that our pain be replaced with pleasure. We do this with an array of addictive activities.”
Examples can range from a food and alcohol addiction to things like drugs, sex, gambling, pornography and even work, shopping or internet surfing. Anything that is a distraction from the pain.
My initial strategy in the beginning, admittedly, was food and alcohol. But I quickly incorporated things like mental health counseling, college, and learning to dream so I could create a new life map with intentional design. This process takes time and conscious effort. I recall vowing to make new friends and find new coping strategies
I started by going places where no one knew me or the story I was attempting to escape. I found it easier to set healthy boundaries and not get caught up in my side of the narrative. My motto was “The truth shall set you free,” and it did over time. I was focused on all things positive and motivational and took every psychology class I could. Learning to understand the human brain and behaviors, especially my own, was most important. It was the act of owning my part and facing my fears that made the difference in my life.
Being consciously aware of our emotions and trigger responses can lead us out of the comfort zone.
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