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On Comfort Zones and Finding Magic September 3, 2012

Posted by phoenixhopes in Comfort Zone, life, thoughts.

On occasion, when my pastor is preaching, my mind wanders off on a rabbit trail. It starts with something she said, but then, well, I stop paying attention and go off on my own little tangent for awhile. It happened again yesterday. Clarissa quoted from the book If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Gotta Get Out of the Boat (or maybe she just quoted the book title – I, uh, stopped listening for a bit) and said our Fears are our Boats. That got me thinking…. What is it I’m afraid of? Really, truly afraid and not simply unnecessarily worried? Probably just one thing/person – my ex-husband. This is the only fear that causes nightmares and it’s a healthy fear, born from reality. Although I cannot let it control me and limit my life, I am wise to be aware and to be wary.

There is so much more than true fear that holds me back, so much more that keeps me in the boat. It’s not fear but instead it’s that damn Comfort Zone. Last night, as I was falling asleep I wondered… Is there anything inherently wrong or dangerous with wanting to be comfortable? Wrong or dangerous, probably not. But it certainly is limiting. If my goal is to stay comfortable there is so much of life I will avoid. If I’m avoiding things in life, then I’m not really living it to it’s fullest.

Of course, there are some things I’ve tried and know they are just not my cup of tea. Rollercoasters. The last time I went on one, maybe 8 or 10 years ago, I decided I was old enough to embrace the fact that they do not bring me even one tiny ounce of joy. I know the scare is part of the appeal but I just don’t get it. I spend the time in line with a knot in the pit of my stomach and spend the ride with my eyes clenched shut, screaming in panic. There is no release when it’s over. I just want to collapse in the bushes until the waves of panic are done, and never, ever do that again. I feel no compulsion to challenge that comfort zone.

Or Lima Beans, the nastiest food God invented. I will never willingly eat a Lima Bean. Please, if you ever invite me for dinner, don’t serve Lima Beans.

Beyond those few things I’ve tried and know they just aren’t for me, what do I gain by staying comfortable? Perhaps the better question is – what have I gained by pushing my limits?

My Comfort Zone keeps me safe. I know what to expect. I don’t have to think much. When I’m living here I tend to eat the same foods, read the same blogs (the ones I know I’ll agree with), work on easy projects, think the same thoughts and hang out with the same people. Living in my Comfort Zone is easy. I’m not challenged (or if I am, I put my fingers in my ears and sing “La, la, la, la… I can’t hear you”).

Sometimes, living here is what I need. I pull my Comfort Zone over me like a cocoon protecting me from the outside world. It can be a place of healing and restoration after one of “those” weeks. It is the solace of an old friend who knows me almost better than I know myself. My Comfort Zone is rest.

If living inside the Comfort Zone is rest, stepping outside is growth. This is where I learn to listen, to let go of my preconceptions, to really see. It is challenging myself to try new things. When I step outside I meet new (and usually interesting) people. My world gets bigger. I learn I am braver, stronger and smarter than I ever imagined was possible.

Stepping outside my bubble is not always my choice. Sometimes those who know (and hopefully love) me “volunteer” me for responsibilities or activities I would never choose on my own. Sometimes the crap that happens in life shoves me out and barricades the door. Living outside my Comfort Zone does not always feel magical. It can feel lonely and painful and insecure and I don’t like being there. I might not choose to step outside my Comfort Zone and it may take a while to find my way back to that safety and rest but, when I am outside, in the unknown, I will always learn and grow. The bonus is, if I look hard enough, I’ll also find the magic.

Just remember, I implore you, no Lima Beans.



1. Luanne - September 3, 2012

Your experience outside the comfort zone is what I’ve experienced, as well. I have learned and grown most there, but it just seems so much easier (and don’t I deserve it, after all?) to stay where it feels good!

Lately I’ve been becoming discontent in my safety zone, and don’t you know it, God has started pushing me out again. lol As uncomfortable as it is to get used to being out in the unprotected space again, I am looking forward to seeing what He has in store this time.

phoenixhopes - September 3, 2012

I think we need both. If we stay in our Comfort Zone, never venturing out, eventually we stagnate and, like you note, we become discontent. On the other hand, those times when we cannot retreat back into our cocoon for restoration, we can become so stressed that we aren’t accomplishing much at all.

I’m looking forward to hearing about your adventures!

2. Jaci Presley - September 6, 2012

But you gotta have Lima beans in your Brunswick Stew. Although, honestly, I cannot think of any other use for Lima beans excapt, maybe, Kindergarten Art work.

I’m not going to discuss those times when life shoves me outside my comfort zone and then locks the door so I can’t just go back in and hide.

In other words… loved your post and it rings true for me, too. Except for the Lima beans.

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