Until it hurts.18, Sept, 2015, by Seema Bhatnagar
Have you ever felt like postponing something very important in life, simply for the reason that it demands more efforts or might disturb your current setup or it might stain your social image? Do you feel that sometimes you think too much before making bold or tiny changes in life?
There are certain scenarios which commonly appear in life and sometimes it take ages to reach any decision, for example:-
Making a new career move of starting something of your own and leaving a job.
Searching a new job which can be ideal for your skills.
Losing those extra kgs which have been hanging around you since long.
Addressing relationship issues which have been draining your energy since past many years.
Learning new skills which can enhance your productivity at work.
Probably, you too have been putting off some change for one reason or another and preferring to live with associated unhappiness and distress. You feel it is alright to live with this low level of satisfaction because the very thought of change brings you a feeling of discomfort and paints a picture of failure and disappointment in your mind.
Even on knowing the benefits and wonders of a change you somehow don’t feel motivated enough to pursue it, simply for the reason that you are not ready to face the discomfort associated with the change. This mindset indicates that you are living in your comfort zone.
Living in a comfort zone means you have defined your own limits and boundaries, where every change is perceived as a threat. Interestingly, for many people it is not clear what actually it means living in a comfort zone, for them the suboptimal conditions of life becomes their sweet world of happiness absolutely oblivious of the fact that they are rejecting abundant possibilities to grow in life.
What is that compelling reason that keeps most people in comfort zone? The first and fundamental is, fear of failure, second, fear of losing social image of not achieving what is desired and losing respect and acceptance in eyes of others. For the fear of losing safety, people spend their whole life in compromising situations and subconsciously reject possibilities of growth and success in life. In certain situations, like, leaving a job and starting something of your own, the idea of conformance to social norms and expectations is so strong that it weakens and kills the courage to break free from comfort zone.
Doesn’t matter even if any change promise to bring life transformation, some people would have hundred excuses to justify their stay in comfort zone. For majority people, life transforming decisions are generally taken for granted and in the course of time things happen to them by compulsion or change gets imposed upon them.
Generally, there are two types of discomfort one can experience:-
This discomfort is felt at the time of decision making, while playing mental games, or any activity which involves hard thinking. To avoid this discomfort many people avoid thinking too much and prefer to go by what is easier and comfortable.
This type of discomfort is felt during physical activities, while exercising, doing personal chores like cooking, washing and cleaning. To avoid this type of discomfort people avoid physical activities and try to rely on external help or machines.
Whenever there is a situation or a thought that tries to pull you in comfort zone, is basically about avoiding either of these two types of discomforts.
Clicked by me at Thekkady, Kerala during a Kalaripayattu show.
Lot of people justify their aversion of moving out of comfort zone by thinking that they are happy where they are and don’t want to achieve more in life. This is not true and is an illusion, because, it is a human nature to grow, every living being on this planet is growing each day, at least physically. Contentment cannot be the answer of staying in comfortable state for too long, rather it is a way of covering personal mindset of avoiding pain and discomfort. Contentment can only be about doing your best in any particular situation of life, however difficult it might be.
Whatever pursuit you follow in life, there would be a point where you would attain a state of comfort zone and this is a point where your awareness should help you to move on to next challenge or discomfort zone.
Not moving out of comfort zone is like putting a high flying bird in a cage where wings will become weak and mind will be dull to take any further flight in life.
Pushing yourself constantly beyond your current comfort zone brings personal growth. Imagine, how each one of us pushed ourselves in childhood and learnt crawling, walking and then running, and kept on pushing until a state was achieved where no further state left to achieve.
Lot of people decides to leave comfort zone only when it really starts hurting, until then they somehow justify their state. Hurting means when you do not see yourself going anywhere, a feeling of frustration and disappointment of not doing enough, when you don’t see any progress or movement in life, a constant dullness, shying away from challenges or difficult situations.
Eventually, an accumulated state of circumstances creates a thrust which pushes you beyond your comfort zone and then it really hurts, because consciously you are not ready for a change. While a self-driven and conscious push does wonder to personal growth and it doesn’t hurt at all.
My personal experience.
In many aspects of life be it at work or personal, I preferred to live in my comfort zone and stayed there until life compelled me to take a plunge. My experience says that when you don’t take needed actions timely then life’s circumstances pushes and compel you to go for a change and then it really hurts.
In many aspects, it came natural to me to jump out of comfort zone and learn something new. In all those instances it never felt as a pain and my learning was joyful and long lasting. Choosing to go ahead with my new career as Life Coach, filled me with unlimited joy, though at times the fear of failure tried to cloud my decision as I didn’t know much about it initially and more than that it is absolutely unpopular, unknown and non-existent in my country, India, where I live. But I decided to put myself into a discomfort than to experience that dullness and madness of corporate world where I do not see myself growing much.
“Discomfort is a prerequisite for growth." ~ Seema Bhatnagar
Initially, it was hard for me to write blog posts and it used to take me more time to write even a simple one, but I constantly pushed myself to write and write. I didn’t allow myself to stay in a comfort zone for too long. The moment I felt, I am comfortable; I raised my bar and did something more and harder. Even if it was a small task of designing a page or a quote or whatever, I kept on pushing myself. With constant practice, I have reached to a state where I find myself awkward satisfied with something comfortable.
Yoga has played a significant role in molding me into a person who is always ready to embrace challenge or something harder. Yoga teaches that one must stretch self until it bends to maximum capacity. This statement is filled with wisdom - it actually tells that you must achieve growth until there is no further scope left. How true and powerful this statement is.
When I practice my asana or posture, in every asana my attempt is to stretch beyond my comfort level of muscles and bones. Though I am still far from a perfectly flexible body but I don’t feel any stiffness in my body just for the simple reason that everyday I bend myself.
I follow the same approach of stretching myself a bit more in everything I do and this is a reason why I no more feel discomfort as a pain. I believe, discomfort is a prerequisite for growth. All great discoveries which we see today would not have been possible had somebody not thought of shunning the idea of comfort. All great sports involve constantly breaking personal best and doing a bit more every time.
Looking back, I really wonder how many things which I was fearful of have achieved now - this could have been possible only because I constantly pushed myself into discomfort.
Experience the pain.
Staying in a comfort zone means you are just letting your faculties rusted when you can achieve the incredible. Once you take a first step the other step naturally gives you required thrust. Give an honest look to your fears and imaginary discomforts and plan a big leap from your comfort zone.
Anything which you feel difficult to achieve, it is only because you are viewing it from comfort zone, once you take a first step, all difficulties would melt away and you would experience extra ordinary courage to face any discomfort on the way.
The interesting part is, while you are going through the discomfort, instead of experiencing it you would feel more focused in figuring out the solutions to come out of it. Doesn’t matter whether you failed or come out of comfort zone but the most important part is that you at least attempted because every attempt is adding a bit more to your strength.
Overcoming the limitations of comfort zone fills an individual with unlimited enthusiasm, joy and one feels more connected to self. It is a kind of spiritual experience.
How to take a leap?
Leaving a comfort zone means you are inviting bunch of difficulties packed with abundant possibilities, both are needed for your personal growth. Following are few tried and tested ways which you can try for yourself to come out of comfort zone.
#1- Join a sport or Yoga.
Any sport or exercise is a great way to learn what it means to break your comfort zone. Every sport demands that you enhance your personal level to next one by breaking your own mental and physical limits and boundaries.
Yoga is an unparallel and unmatched discipline to learn how to bring the union of mind and body to break your own limits.
Depending upon availability and access you must choose either of these and immerse yourself to break your own limitations. Very soon you would realize what you can today was not possible yesterday, it happened only because you decided to break free from mindset of living in a comfort.
#2- Learn a new skill.
Push yourself to learn a new skill, be it of learning a new language or any technical skill, it demands you to be ready to free yourself from limiting beliefs and get ready to embark on a journey of discomfort. It constantly gives a challenge to mental faculties to think and try new and make you to come out of your comfort zone.
Pick any skill whether it is physically demanding like dancing or mental one like learning to speak a new language. If nothing is possible then learn new techniques of improving personal time management or how to de-stress yourself.
#3- Meet people from different professions.
Different professions need variety of skills and efforts. Diving into details about any profession will give you an insight how comfort level is consciously overcome in order to compete. This is especially important for business people who have to constantly think of innovation to get the larger pie in the market.
You must meet people from other professions to learn how they are constantly beating the tendency of staying in comfort.
#4- Break your routine.
Routine is simply a set of habits and habits sometime become so ingrained that we can achieve many things by simply being on auto-pilot or being unaware. Break your existing routine by incorporating new activities or curtailing existing activities which are not enhancing your productivity. To incorporate any new habit or activity you need to come out of your comfort zone.
#5- Accept new challenges.
Challenge your own capacities and abilities by joining new communities for participating in group activities be it a social work or starting a new hobby. The idea is to break personal limitations and see how far you can go from your comfort zone.
For an individual who is happy in personal world of comfort and security, starting anything new would sound like a herculean task but once the first step is taken the next step would follow naturally. Understand the fact, too much of comfort is a kind of suffering in itself because it doesn’t let you bloom into your full potential and you constantly feel a kind of dullness and avoid facing challenging situations in life.
Remember, as stagnant water starts stinking, iron rusts of disuse or any organ’s disuse leads to disease similarly staying in a comfort zone leads to disuse of mental faculties and physical strength.
Choose infinite growth.
When it comes to comfort zone, I find ants very inspiring. They continuously work hard and carry load which is much beyond their capacity. Look at the picture below, this picture I clicked with my cell phone while I was sipping a tea in my hanging garden.
I was amazed to see how all of them came together and pushed this matchstick. They were carrying it to their hole. Many a times I see them carrying grains of pearl millets (bajra in Hindi) from one corner of my house to a location of their hole which is located at a good distance. I watch them closely how one ant carry the load of a single grain. A single grain is much heavier than an ant but it somehow pushes the grain with head and takes it to hole. As per the research, an ant can carry load eight times heavier of its own weight. Amazing…isn’t it? Doesn’t it exemplify how to work beyond our personal comfort zone?
It's me - bowing down to grandiosity at Cherai beach, Kochi.
For an infinite personal growth, you must get out of your comfort zone and explore every possible opportunity. Life feels meaningless when it is trapped in boundaries and limitations. Just break your own boundaries of comfort and venture out to fulfil your dreams and desires. The power to realize your dreams is with you all the time lying just beyond your comfort zone.
Why you should have goals?
Personal growth and development.
You are a CEO of your life.
Live your best life.