Let’s stay more in the comfort zone again

Jumping out of a helicopter, traveling to foreign countries and eating spiders, or even just pushing your body to the limit on your next jog (because puking your lungs out is awesome) – anything that somehow hurts a little or takes an almost uncomfortable amount of courage has become so prestigious and desirable that no one seems to be able to escape this urgent demand anymore: Get out of your comfort zone! And come back only briefly to refuel and comply with the second commandment, namely self-care. Yes what now?

First World Problem

This constant preaching on social media, among friends, from fitness coaches, career counselors, and my inner voice is also a real First World thing: We’re so securely embedded in our jobs, in our pretty houses, in states that work, that we’re looking for ways to break out of that security and get some action. It becomes too confining for us. It’s lulling us. It’s become too cozy for the person we actually want to be – gloriously adventurous and with heroic stories to tell at the eternally same regulars’ table in the eternally same pub. So we force ourselves to make excuses from this cozy confinement and feel like do-gooders. I wonder if a child who has to walk life-threatening distances to school every day in the jungles of South America also thinks it’s cool to leave his comfort zone every morning. I doubt it.

With the credo “just step out of your comfort zone,” we demand to practice receptivity and adaptation every day, not to question anything, and to welcome pain and stress as unavoidable side effects. That’s all well and good. We are supposed to be able to adapt quickly, we are supposed to question, and sometimes pain leads to spiritual growth. But to the extent that this virtue has just taken on, it has once again become nothing more than a tool of a performance-driven society to make itself even more fit – keyword Self-optimization. So we push and push our brain, our body and also our soul further and further, higher and higher, faster and faster, more and more uncomfortable. We don’t even notice that we often forget or even forget to listen to ourselves. Only when it is too late. Or almost.

When the body intervenes

We’re in a lively competition to see who can leave the comfort zone longer, harder and more often and do weird stuff. Crazy stuff doesn’t even have to be that crazy. It can also be dancing night after night, running from event to lecture to event to friends and never breathing, or having conversations so deep that it really shakes up your world view. And ignoring the signs of the body, how it cries for rest and a minute’s break and contemplation, until it mercilessly demands it of itself – and turns us into burn-out patients. Because our bodies can put up with a lot and we do a lot to them, but actually they want to protect our survival above all else – and that works just as badly when we’re bungee jumping as it does when we’re constantly driving at zero energy.

More Comfort, Larger Zone

So why do we find it so uncool to just opt for the comfort zone sometimes? Sometimes it’s better to stay at home and work with Netflix chill, than to go out again in the icy cold. For once, it’s better to go back to familiar paths that have proven themselves and are safe. Admit to yourself that today is not the day to face new challenges. And enjoy it. To let the soul and the body really dangle, because everything is safe, because everything is comfortable and just feels good. And maybe we can create a healthy good way of dealing with the outside of our comfort zone, that we can always stretch our usual area a little bit? Only very slowly and in baby steps. But in such a way that our comfort zone is perhaps so large that we don’t get bored so quickly and that breaking out is still there to question and grow, but always in such a way that we stay with ourselves in the process.

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Image source: Unsplash under CC0 license

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