Humans love to be comfortable. It is one of our strongest urges. Unfortunately, the desire to be in that state can be a prison. It is hard to grow and flourish if your primary objective is to be comfortable. Escaping your comfort zone is crucial if you want to have an exciting and fulfilling life.
Use these strategies to move beyond your comfort zone and create a meaningful life:
1. Start by making a list of the things that make you uncomfortable. What exactly gives you the feeling of discomfort? Is it crowds? Playing your guitar for others? Writing a short story and posting it online? Dating? Parties? Speaking to new people?
2. Learn to soothe yourself. Some people are naturally better at this than others, but anyone can strengthen their ability to calm themselves down. A simple but effective way of doing this:
- Focus on the part of your body where you feel discomfort. This is most commonly in the head, chest, or stomach area. Put your full attention on the trouble spot.
- Breathe fully and relax that part of your body. You might even imagine a tube coming out of that area that permits the discomfort to be released, like oil from a well.
- Practice this skill throughout the day. Sitting in traffic and feeling annoyed? Use the technique. Nervous about a test or meeting? Use this method.
3. Go to places on your list that make you uncomfortable. Maybe the mall is one of them. Go to the mall and sit there. Rate your level of discomfort on a scale from 1 to 10. Use your soothing technique and rate your anxiety again. Move around the mall and repeat the process.
4. Do things that make you uncomfortable. Pick another from your list. Do concerts make you uncomfortable, or crowds in general. Maybe playing tennis in the park in front of other people is awkward. Perhaps you hate parties. These are all new places to practice.
5. Read things that make you uncomfortable. If you are a die-hard liberal, read a book by your least favorite conservative pundit. Maybe you are all about civil rights, so read a book by a white supremacist. Are you afraid of death? Read a book by someone in the process of dying from a terminal disease.
- Use your soothing technique whenever you feel uncomfortable. Finish the entire book!
6. Watch TV shows and movies that make you uncomfortable. Some people hate movies about corrupt politicians or police officers. Others dislike movies with nudity. Maybe you are not a fan of romantic comedies. Perhaps you dislike political talk shows. Make yourself watch what makes you uncomfortable and practice calming yourself down.
7. Create an alter-ego. You have a work personality, a home personality, and an “out with the guys or gals” personality. You have multiple personas to most effectively deal with the different parts of your life. Create an alter ego specifically for dealing with discomfort.
8. Allow yourself to be physically uncomfortable. Allow yourself to be hot, cold, or tired and deal with that physical discomfort.
9. Read inspiring books. One way to blast through your discomfort is to be inspired by others. It can be a fleeting feeling, but a single success can start to convince your brain that there is no reason to be uncomfortable.
10. Plan an adventure. Do something big that makes you uncomfortable. It should also be something that interests you. Your interest can help you to move past the discomfort.
If you are always comfortable, you are not getting the most out of your life. Comfort is the enemy of progress, freedom, and adventure. Learn to deal with being uncomfortable. Turn uncomfortable into the comfortable. Escape your comfort zone and have a life free of regrets.