I love being comfortable. One of my little pleasures is chilling out in my big armchair with a glass of something nice and a good movie playing on the telly. Comfortable is good; I like it a whooooole lot.
But (and I’m surprised it’s not a bigger butt with all that sitting down in my armchair), I’ve learned time and time again that life sometimes wrenches me out of my comfort zone. From starting my own business to going on a string of blind dates to jumping into a freelance advertising project with both feet, my comfort zone is something I’m spending less time in than ever.
It’s the discomfort that’s often inherent in going out of your comfort zone that makes people think that they lack confidence, don’t have what it takes to tackle the task in hand or are better off right where they are. So wouldn’t it be great if going out of your comfort zone was easier?
I was on a coaching call with legendary coach Dave Buck a little while ago, and discovered a fantastic way to do just that. I was listening to him coach someone else on the line (let’s call her Dee), who was experiencing discomfort around what might happen if she became really successful in her career – there was discomfort around others’ expectations and the pressure of having to deliver consistently. I listened as Dave took Dee straight to the centre of her discomfort, and as she wriggled and squirmed trying to move away from it he simply asked her to stay with it and tell him what was happening in her body and what she was feeling.
The call progressed and I saw a change happen in Dee. Rather than doing what most of us do, which is to wriggle, squirm or try to change the discomfort into something else, she was able to step into it and experience it. By the end of 20 minutes she already felt ‘easier’ with it; her capacity to experience that discomfort had increased.
And this is the trick – to spend time being uncomfortable or experiencing discomfort without wrestling with it, squirming next to it or trying to do anything about it. When you do that, like Dee found, something amazing happens (here comes the science bit).
Your capacity to be with discomfort increases to the point where it becomes larger than the discomfort. Your ability to experience ‘uncomfortableness’ increases to the point where it’s bigger than the uncomfortableness itself – and when you do that it longer has the same power or hold over you.
To put it another way, when your capacity to experience discomfort becomes greater than the discomfort itself, you’re able to accept it and be at ease with it. You become comfortable with it.
That’s how – and believe me, I know how strange this sounds – going out of your comfort zone can be equally as comfortable as being in your comfort zone.
Picture that for a second. Picture yourself being just as comfortable going out of your comfort zone as you are in your comfort zone. Pretty cool huh?