There is a lot of discussion and coaching that centers around the concept of “comfort zones”. We’ve all heard sayings like, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” and “Outside the comfort zone is where the magic happens.” So what is a comfort zone?
A simple google search provides the following definition:
com·fort zone (ˈkəmfərt zōn/) noun
a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress.
There are countless articles, books, programs, and workshops that offer the “Science behind Comfort Zones”. Some profess how to help us “Identify our Comfort Zones” and others explore “Reasons to step outside our Comfort Zone”. Depending on your eagerness level, you can find advice from the world’s leading experts on how to get out of our comfort zone in as little as ten and as many as fifty-two ways.
We are taught that our limiting beliefs are what keep us stuck in our comfort zones. Beliefs, many of which are formed in our childhood such as, “I’m not worthy”, “I’m not good enough”, “I don’t deserve that dream”, “I’m not capable”, or “that’s not who I am” serve as anchors that keep us within a zone of comfort that we eventually believe we might not be capable of leaving.
But what if a comfort zone is nothing more than a story we tell ourselves? What if the comfort zone itself is the limiting belief? How might we change the story?
For the entirety of my adult life, I have been uncomfortable seeing and hearing myself recorded. I’ve avoided photos, videos, and facetime conversations because the experience is extremely uncomfortable. At times I’ve been forced in front of a camera for work or school and I’ve praised myself for “stepping outside my comfort zone”. I’ve told myself that the more I practice, the easier it will become. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. I practiced and practiced and learned how to look into the camera and read a script better but the process never became something that I enjoyed. However, recently a still small voice inside my head was heard to say, “it would be so much fun to make a video and put it out into the world!” And for the first time, I listened. I listened and I allowed myself to feel the excitement without shutting it down, judging it, or labeling the idea “outside my comfort zone”. Instead, I opened my computer, walked out to my deck, and without a script, said what was on my heart. And in the process of looking into that camera and speaking my truth, I began to relax and enjoy what I was doing.
I realized in that short three-minute timeframe that the idea of a comfort zone was just a story I had made up to keep me from playing big in the world. I had let myself believe that making a video was outside my comfort zone. My comfort zone was limiting how I showed up in life. It had been a convenient excuse for not listening to what my soul’s purpose was trying to express. Today I know that my soul wants me to feel comfortable connecting with people through video, facetime, zoom calls, and whatever other technical tools show up along the way so that I know there is no limit to how big I might be in this life. So, I changed my story.
As a little girl, I loved being in front of the camera. I was called a “camera hog” and over time began to feel that wasn’t an acceptable way to be. But what if the things we loved doing as children were never judged or labeled as good or bad? What if we were never made to feel uncomfortable for expressing the truest versions of ourselves by an insecure world that wasn’t capable of holding space for the enormity of our authentic passion? What might happen? Who might we be? Change the story.