Many people complain that they are scared to go out of their home alone and they require the support of someone while going out. The fear something negative always dwells in their mind while going out. During the acute social phobias they become skilled at avoidance—often not stepping out onto a street for days on end. This fear basically arises because they don’t want to leave their comfort zone.
What is the comfort zone?
The most scientific explanation of what a comfort zone is relates it to anxiety levels. The comfort zone is any type of behavior that keeps people at a steadily low anxiety level. Although anxiety isn’t something we’re prone to go looking for, a little bit can be beneficial. We often need just a hint of anxiety to push us to get our work done, or to improve our performance. But some of the people afraid to go out of their comfort zone as they are scared of uncertainty and feel themselves as incapable to deal with uncertainty.
How to deal with uncertainty?
Uncertainty can make us respond more strongly to negative experiences. It has been found that when negative images were preceded by uncertainty, they were more upsetting than when participants expected them. We’re also more likely to respond negatively to new things. The more afraid we are, the smaller our comfort zone becomes and the more difficult it is to break out of it.
- You will never be ready
Most people have a tendency to postpone. And as a result they escape from the situation. We need to understand that to deal with uncertainty we cannot be always ready every time but simply of be present to however things are.
- Let go
Let go of your grip onto what you think is permanent. Let go of your fear that there is nothing better out there. Let go of the people you’ve been holding too tightly in the dread of being alone.
- Hold on
Let go, but don’t give up. Often, when we run away from something, we risk confirming our own lack of faith in yourself and others.
- Be kind to yourself when you fall
Flying is a difficult skill. We should give our self credit for even trying. Most people spend their life in the nest, choosing to ignore their wings until they wither and drop off. If we have had the courage to leap, even once, we should celebrate that. Whether we soared or plummeted doesn’t matter. We tried, and there is always a next time. There has to be. That’s the nature of life.
Here are some of the benefits of leaving our comfort zone and trying things that raise our anxiety levels just a little bit:
It will help us grow
When mixed with the feeling of success, some anxiety and self-doubt can lead to personal growth. This is why outdoor adventures like rock climbing or skydiving can be so exhilarating: they induce anxiety and unease but when completed, they give us a huge feeling of accomplishment and increase our base levels of confidence.
Our comfort zone will grow
If our comfort zone is small—i.e. the number of things we can do without feeling anxious are few—we’ll either be anxious a lot of the time or miss out on a lot of the excitement life has to offer. By getting out of our comfort zone more regularly, you’ll increase the number of things you’re comfortable with. We’ll also be able to enjoy more things in life, since familiarity makes us more likely to enjoy something, even if it turned us off at first.
Doing new things motivates us and helps us learn
Novelty tends to increase levels of dopamine in the brain, which is part of the brain’s ‘reward center’. Dopamine’s role centers around motivating us to go looking for rewards, and novelty increases that urge. Novelty has also been shown to improve memory and increase the possibilities for learning by making our brains more malleable.
Finding that middle ground where you are anxious, but where those anxiety levels are still manageable, is what we are looking for. Once you become acclimated to that new level of anxiety, you have successfully expanded your comfort zone.How far you want to push your boundaries is totally up to you, and will probably differ depending on what else is going on in your life. The trick seems to be maintaining a healthy balance between security and comfort, and a little novelty and excitement now and then.
TriBeCa Care offers various modes of psychotherapeutic interventions to help cope with these issues. A mental health assessment followed by a counselling session can be very helpful for someone facing issues like this.
“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.”
(The blog has been written by Ms. Nidhi Singh, a Counselling Psychologist at TriBeCa Care Pvt. Ltd)