[quote]“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” – Tim Ferris[/quote]
Comfort is the antagonist of success.
Unless you just handed the life you want on a silver platter, you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves, get a little dirty and expand your comfort zone to get where you want to be. Most people don’t want to hear this and don’t bother to follow through. But most people don’t live the lives that they want.
You’re different. You are going to step out of that little box where you feel safe and you are going to succeed. You just need a little push.
You Are Your Own Worst Enemy
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression. “I am my own worst enemy.” After all, it was an incredibly popular song in the 90’s, but nothing is more true.
You are the only one holding you back from doing anything.
The problem lies in your comfort zone; a behavioral state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviors to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk – White 2009
Most people live their entire lives in their comfort zones. It is easy. Plus it feels good. But it doesn’t breed success or greatness.
If you want to reach your limits, you are going to have to learn how to break out of your comfort zone to the scary, uncertain, un-understood sector of life.
But first, let’s take a look at why we are so often bounded by our comfort zone & why most people will never leave them to achieve their dreams.
You are naturally inclined to stay comfortable
Your body and mind have a great, yet terrible trait of trying to protect you from so-called “dangerous situations.”
When you see a beautiful girl you want to talk to, you may be overcome by nerves, preventing you to do so.
When you want to talk to your boss about a promotion, there is often something small inside that holds you back.
When you have to make a life-changing phone call, you tend to overthink it and hesitate, if calling at all.
Why do our body and mind hold us back from doing things that will make us successful? Are we subconsciously self-sabotaging? Or do we just not have what it takes?
Neither of these is the case.
What we are feeling is completely normal and is an evolutionary response that we can overcome.
You see, you are inherently equipped with a vast amount of necessary survival instincts. They protect you from touching a scolding hot pan, ensuring you look both ways before you wander into a busy street & stop you from walking of the ledge of a 100 story building. And thankfully they are there to do so.
But the problem is that they also manifest themselves in these non-life-threatening situations that you only perceive as dangerous.
While recently studying body language I fell across the book, What Every Body Is Saying, which gave me a clear understanding to this natural response.
Your brain is composed of three parts, or as some say, “three brains.” The reptilian brain, the mammalian (limbic) brain, and the human (neocortex) brain. The limbic brain, which we share with the animals, is responsible for your instinctive reactions and uncontrolled body responses. This includes fear. Since the dawn of time men were survivalists. Millions of years ago, as men traveled the African savannas, they were faced with prey that was bigger, faster & stronger. In order to survive man had to adapt, and this happened with the freeze, fight then flight, or “fight or flight” response we have in dangerous & nerve-wracking situations. Not being able to outrun their prey, this freezing saved the early man. It can also be seen in animals that play dead in order to survive.
This freeze response is still embedded in our limbic brains today and although we are not running away from lions and tigers, we see the freeze response in small, unnecessary situations, such as seeing a hot girl.
Your survival instincts are working against you because your brain sees these situations as dangerous or life-threatening when really they are not.
But lucky for you, you are not just run by instincts and your limbic brain. You also have a neocortex brain, which the animals don’t.
Your neocortex brain is the part of your brain that processes information, controls memory & allows you to analyze and use reason. This brain can differentiate a truly dangerous situation from a fake one, in the instance of standing on the edge of a building vs. seeing a beautiful tan goddess. You just have to consciously use it.
The more good news is that you can train your limbic brain to lose this fear response (to certain situations). The limbic brain has an incredible memory, which is why when you see a dog that bit you, you will have an immediate fear reaction. It seems like a simple and obvious response, but it is the limbic brain at work.
This memory can work in your favor though. As you put yourself in uncomfortable situations outside your comfort zone and realize that there is really nothing to fear, your limbic brain will remember this. The more you do it, the less fear you will have when you face that situation next time. This is why the best way to beat approach anxiety is to just keep approaching girls.
[quote]”Do the thing you fear most, and the death of fear is certain” – Mark Twain[/quote]
So now that you know what’s going on in your brain when faced with fear in a truly non-life-threatening situation, you can use this fear as an indicator that this is something you would benefit highly doing.
[quote]”What we fear doing most, is usually what we most need to do” – Tim Ferris[/quote]
No one gets these fears going to the post office or doing something insignificant. They get them when faced with a possibly life-changing situation.
You can learn to recognize this feeling as an indicator or a need to proceed.
Next time, when you feel this hesitance, remember this and it will allow you to act on it and push through it. The fear is only there because your mind is trying to protect you from leaving your comfort zone out of the instinct of survival. But you don’t just want to survive. You want to thrive.
Stepping outside your comfort zone
Going forth when faced with uncomfortable situations is not the last stop on the comfort zone train.
Everyone currently has a set comfort zone that they live in. Think about yours. My definition of your comfort zone is what you can do and accomplish on autopilot, without trying or stressing.
So think about your comfort zone, and then think about what leaving your comfort zone would entail.
If you are anything like I was, then talking to a pretty girl would bring you far out of your comfort zone. I felt just fine and comfortable looking at them and imagining what could have been. But staying in that zone could never get me anywhere. Stepping out of that comfort zone, walking up to that girl, introducing myself and seeing where it goes has endless possibilities. Not only does it leave the chance of having an amazing outcome (sex, love, marriage), but it makes me a little more comfortable with approaching pretty girls next time.
It’s outside this comfort zone where great things truly happen. Nothing exciting ever happens when you decide to stay in on a Friday night or decided you’re too nervous to talk to that girl you will never see again. But talking to her could spark a night of adventure, or maybe even a lifetime.
[quote]”The greatest enemy to your human potential is your comfort zone”[/quote]
The more you leave your comfort zone the larger it becomes
Think about this.
Say your comfort zone is currently going to work, sitting on the couch when you get home & killing a few beers while watching “Breaking Bad” before you pass out. This is a very stress-free day for you & can almost be done on autopilot. And I’m not going to lie, this sounds appealing! But that is the problem.
Then imagine if your comfort zone was waking up in a new country each month, going on a 3-mile nature run, managing your business for a few hours in an internet cafe, going skydiving in the afternoon, and picking up a beautiful woman every evening to join you for dinner and a night out.
Wouldn’t sitting on the couch and watching TV shows sound like a seriously terrible night?
Your comfort zone is whatever you make it. It is a constantly changing, easily changeable part of you.
How do you change it?
The only answer: By leaving your current comfort zone, one step at a time, over and over and over.
You’re not going to go from office drone to the most interesting man in the world overnight. Maybe not even in the course of a year.
But you can certainly go from “employee of the month Pete” to a small business owner in the course of a few months. Then to world traveler in 6 more after automating your income. Eventually becoming a daily thrill seeker and adrenaline junkie with an exquisite taste for fine wine.
It all starts with stepping out of your comfort zone once, getting comfortable in your new zone, and doing it again.
If you’re anything like the average Joe then you are no good at approaching women, since it’s way outside your comfort zone. Just approaching one single woman once gets you one step closer to that being in your comfort zone. And after a month or two with daily approaches, approaching women is magically in your comfort zone. There’s virtually no way after approaching 100 women in a month that you won’t be comfortable doing it, and even find it fun.
It sounds simple because it is, and it works for anything else. The first time you go skydiving you will likely shit a brick, but after 100 times it would be no big deal.
The only thing that holds you back from doing something is because it’s not in your comfort zone, and the only thing to get that something into your comfort zone is to do it.
What that means is that taking that first step is purely up to you. There’s no magic trick here or no special formula for me or anyone else to tell you. The only way to break out of your comfort zone and get a new activity in it is to take that first frightful leap of faith. It will be hard, it will be scary, but it is the only way.
[quote]”Seek out discomfort and grow”[/quote]
The more you expand your comfort zone, the bigger, more powerful things you will be able to bring into it.
So go out there, expand your comfort zone and make your life incredible.
<cue motivational music>