In order to answer one question, it helps to ask another. Instead of placing so much emphasis on exploring the inner depths of our own comfort levels or the outer reaches of the things that challenge us, let’s shift focus to one rarely asked question:
Where Is Your Comfort Zone?
Habit patterns are formed from repetitive action that eventually— for whatever reason— become the norm. After a motorcycle accident I had a few years back, my whole left side was covered in road rash and damaged tissue. My right side had to overcompensate immensely. This led to imbalanced muscular development that persisted long after the wounds healed. My posture suffered, which in turn started to wreak havoc on all the major joints.
It took a lot of dedicated physical therapy to begin to correct. After identifying the patterns of tension and movement that were causing the problems, I had to work towards creating a new normal that felt extremely odd. The smallest tension would challenge it, in turn requiring a great deal of mindfulness to avoid falling back into a comfortable pattern of discomfort.
The concepts of comfort and discomfort are pretty straightforward
When something feels good or is familiar (in a positive way), it’s comfortable. Anything that screws with, or disturbs, that norm is not. My line of work has me spending a lot of time thinking about constructive and healthy ways to systematically expand my own comfort zone. This, in turn, gives new perspective on how to create experiences for those who work with me to comfortably (riiiiight?) step outside of theirs.
Instead of trying to define what feels comfortable and what is not, look at actual tangible sources and areas that create these polarizing feelings. Some enjoy cities, others mountains. I’m very relaxed in the water, but beaches sometimes challenge me (sand sucks).
Do you prefer hot or cold? Yoga mat or no yoga mat? Eye contact or hand-holding? Are you comfortable when your plate is full or desire a clean slate?
It’s easy to run towards the good feelings and shy away from the less pleasant ones. However, should we do something just because it feels good, or even normal? Next time something is uncomfortable, take a moment to observe why— once, of course, you’re in a safe place to do so.
Even then, what makes that place safe? How do you find your comfort zone?