What are the things that we encounter that prevent us from progress and stop us from exploring and trying out new things? I realized that as much as I have spoken about positive thinking and negativity, it is easy for us to overlook the fundamental things that are considered hindrances to progress. I believe comfort zones are one of them.
Comfort Zones by definition are mental boundaries that we place on ourselves to function behaviourally in an anxiety-neutral condition. We act on familiarity and resist the peculiar. Anything that we do not recognize in our zone of familiarity we reject without giving consideration on how something or someone can change our outlook on life and help us discern the things that hinder our progress.
To me, comfort zones are a form of disabling a person from performing at their optimum level. You will find that over-achievers are those that press beyond the boundaries and step outside the box to target reaching their goals and accomplishments.
The Disabling factors I consider to be the demotivators of progress and facilitate people hiding behind their shells of comfort are:
1. Fear – This is a major culprit I believe that hinders many from pursuing purpose. Fear says “No, I can’t do this because…”. It is a powerful emotion that can overwhelm and paralyze a person to not act because of the level of anxiety they feel based on their notions of a perceived threat and fear of feeling pain. Fear also causes people to think up of many excuses to NOT do something by meditating of false imaginations of possible consequences to actions. An example of this could be the fear of Rejection. Rejection can be a used as a logical explanation for not doing something because of its association with pain. We as humans fear anything to do with pain so the natural inclination is to run from it. On the other hand, you can’t run from it forever because you have to overcome the things you fear in order to achieve great things in this life. False imaginations of a perceived threat of pain can immobilize the individual from stepping outside the box and keeps them trapped in their personal cage that I call a “prison boundary“. Remember that God did not give you a spirit of Fear…(2 Timothy 1:7). Don’t be afraid of taking a calculated risk… You will never know the level of your TRUE potential if you remain inside the box. Have courage because victors are born from confronting what they fear in the face and that’s how they conquer.
2. Depression- This is another heavy emotion that is tied to Fear and Negative confession. Depression sees no hope in a situation. It is devoid of it completely. It manifests itself in many ways such as obesity, bulimia, drug use, intoxication, self-injury, over-sleeping, isolation etc. It is a type of comfort zone that I find to be quite deadly. When you lose hope you actually give up on life in general and I have seen accounts in which it ends tragically by suicide. Depression is deadly in scope as a comfort zone that keeps people out even when it wants to invite people in. I also think that depression is contagious and you have to be a strong-willed person if you want to tackle this demon so just be aware of it. Depression is an expression of a heart and mind devoid of hope…It sees the end and doesn’t see a beginning. It sees everything in pitch black and it is a killer of many destinies. A hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life (Proverbs 13:12). Just because a person is depressed doesn’t mean they don’t have aspirations; however, for various reasons they come to a place where they start to believe that what they long for will never be possible and are left unfulfilled. They start feeling self-pity and then they just end up depressed. Such people are highly sensitive to criticism (including constructive criticism) and need a huge dose of positive confession to change their way of seeing nothing at the end of the tunnel. Depression leaves people blinded and some remain with tunnel vision and see no other options but continuing that path of depression. It’s a serious emotional hindrance and obstacle that drives people into a “deadly comfort” zone. Their heads can remain in the sand while things are happening around them. They also don’t see the danger in remaining depressed for an extensive amount of time. Depression attracts death so it is necessary that if you ever feel this way in your life…don’t remain there for a long time because that state is like living in grief only waiting for death to come to numb or end your emotional pain. You need to decide that “Your sick and tired of feeling sick and tired and I want to rise above this!”
3. Negative Confession – This is self explanatory but I will say that “negative confession brings about possession”. If you believe it in you heart whatever negative confession that comes from your mouth or from the mouth of another then you will become what you think…you will possess the words that will manifest into actions. It is possible for one to unwittingly receive these negative confessions with open arms when they accept them as “fact” in their head that it will soon affect their actions. Such people see set-backs before advancements to progress. They see obstacles before they see the finish line and that is enough for them to decide not to move. We all encounter this in our lives at some point and the only way to get yourself out of this vicious cycle of negativity is by confessing positively into your situation and rejecting every negative thing spoken over your life. You’ll reap the rewards of having a positive outlook on life. Ask yourself, how full is your glass? Is it half empty or half full? How you answer that will determine what you need to work on. If you see a half empty glass, your veering towards a negative thought pattern. If you see it half full, you are on the right track.
4. Escapism – This stems from the fact that a person chooses to be in denial about their problems. Instead of confronting the issue for what it is, some people tend to escape by pacifying the problem with unhealthy activities that generate pleasure to minimize the experience of pain. This can be done through drugs, partying, drinking etc and some people can even use generally healthy activities to an extreme such as reading, eating, or sleeping too much etc to distract them from facing their problems. Anything normal done in excess is bad for you. This comfort zone is a type of “self-distractionary” zone that is intended to keep a person inside the box focusing on what they know how to do rather than exploring what they might also be able to do outside of that box. This behaviour is self-destructive and is closely linked with depression. I must also make mention here that some people develop disorders and obsessive behaviours through the activities they use as a crutch to numb the pain or fear of pursuing purpose while facing obstacles that are placed there to help you grow into maturity and not leave you stranded on a dirt road. It’s all in how you look at it. You cannot escape real life through these crazy activities, you have to live it through in order to end your comfort zone.
6. Apathy – You don’t care about what’s outside the box because what’s inside the box is your world and you choose not to have that world be disrupted. If you are not disturbed by this level of tunnel vision, circumstances around you that are beyond your control have the power to disturb your “in-the-box and stays-in-the-box mentality”. Apathy doesn’t allow one to grow from experience, it actual encourages stagnation and cultivates immaturity. You will not move and therefore nothing will move with you. Even if you have desires, you have to step out and reach for the things you want because the things you desire won’t run into statues. Not everyone is going to hold your hand a walk you through. It’s up to you to make that step and that’s by making a decision to do so. This comfort zone is a “stagnant” zone that prevents one from moving at all. No one can persuade a statute to move if it’s unwilling. Such people are defensive about this type of behaviour and choose to agree with you in that they agree to disagree but never arrive at the solution for their problems because they just don’t care and are too immature to deal with it.
7. Selfishness- Pretty self-explanatory in that it is what it is…and that is selfish. The comfort in this zone is based on the focus that remains on the “me” attitude. “What can I do that will benefit myself?” This zone is a comfort zone that doesn’t allow others in at all because they fear that others will minimize their worth if they are invited into their world. Selfish people do everything in their power to keep people out of their zone by making themselves appear greater in their eyes and avoiding other possibilities outside their philosophy of thinking. They only see “their way as the ‘right’ way or you take the “highway” jack and hit the road” which is a very narrow-minded view of the world. Such people cannot see the benefit of other people’s input or ideas and remain enclosed in their “ideal” world. This comfort zone I would refer to as the “Idealistic but not realistic” zone. It’s a crazy place to be, in that you cannot advance further than your own understanding. Knowledge is shared but idealists refuse to learn outside their philosophy of life, thus, they remain grounded in ignorance. Ignorance keeps them from learning beyond what they know and exploring different options. It’s a form of insanity too if you consider that such a person can perform activities over and over again expecting to achieve a different result while ignoring sound advice from the counsel of others who have experienced the same trouble and have knowledge to share in terms of what strategies one can use to combat a problem. What is needed to battle this is taking into consideration of others and respecting other people’s opinions and advice. It’s all about coming to that realization that you know you know absolutely nothing but can still learn about everything. No limits.
8. Confusion – Why list this as a comfort zone? No one ever wants to feel confused which is true. I make mention of this because confusion is a state of mind that is restless because it seeks to find logic in things that are disconnected. We make sense of things in our world by associating things with the way they are connected. If we find no connection, we find an excuse to not proceed with a course of action. It’s another way of placing oneself from venturing into a place where they are stuck with this level of uncertainty to proceed to do something when the time calls for it. We set limitations and this is a serious hindrance to progress.This comfort zone materializes in ways that cause one to remain indecisive about pursuing a course of action. When you are confused you can’t reason things out properly and you remain indecisive about taking a risk or a course of action that can logically help you achieve your desire. However, because you are unable to assess the pros and cons with the act, you ultimately decided not to do anything and presume that doing nothing didn’t harm you in anyway. That is a deceptive mind trick that fools a person into deciding not to make a decision.
This zone is a comfort zone built on “Uncertainty”. If you cannot make a logical choice to do something and fear making the wrong choice, choosing not to make a move out of fear of making the wrong decision just because you can’t make sense of a situation is still the act of making a choice. Indecision leads to stagnation and this hurts many people in ways that they cannot understand. They assume that no choice isn’t making a choice when really “no choice” is the choice. Decide to move and understand that it’s okay to not know how everything will pan out. You don’t need to know the outcome beforehand all the time to arrive at making a choice to decide to act on something. Step out and see what happens. Learn that mistakes can be made but you can only learn from them if you make them in the first place. This helps you build on maturity while at the same time gaining some wisdom as well as knowledge.
My Last Note: I just want to make it clear that this list isn’t exhaustive but I find these 8 factors as contributors for people choosing to remain in their comfort zone. There is nothing wrong with stepping out to achieve your goals. You have to confront yourself honestly if you want to be an overcomer. Victors rise above the most difficult battles which are the battles they fight within themselves. Choose to live victoriously and not stick your head back into the sand. Your world becomes larger when you step out of your own world and jump right into the real world.
Questions to consider:
What are your comfort zones? Can you identify yourself in any of these areas? What causes you not to step out?