Comfort Zone - Keep Pushing The Edge with Greg Curran

Get to Know your Dis-Comfort Zone: Tips and Questions

It’s a term that’s often used but we rarely unpack it as teachers. Learn about your relationship to your comfort zone with key tips, questions and resources.

Comfort Zones – it’s a topic that’s often discussed online.

  •  Pushing past or through our Comfort Zones;
  • Stepping or Thinking Outside our Comfort Zones;
  • Shaking Off, Exceeding or Breaking Free (if that’s possible) of our Comfort Zones.

For me, contemplation of the boundaries or edges of our Comfort Zones – is front of mind – in Pushing The Edge (My podcast). Here I chat with educators and community leaders who are pushing beyond their comfy ‘business as usual’ or ‘taken for granted’ thinking and practices. Yes indeed, these are SPACES that I LOVE. 

As I’ve pondered the myriad of Comfort Zone rhetoric that we pass on and on and on, a few questions have come to mind. Why questions? Well because if we value taking risks and thinking outside the box – then specific teaching and learning is called for in relation to Comfort Zones. 

And on that front, I’m suggesting Tuning In and giving Highly Focused Attention to all things Comfort Zones, whether that be for yourself or your students.  

Here’s some tips, questions and insights to help you. 

Learning About Our Comfort Zones

If you’re a classroom teacher – wanting to step outside their comfort zone more often – this next section is all for you.

It is not envisaged that you complete every one of the steps mentioned below.

Instead focus on one component and build from there. Maybe keep a record that you return to, from time-to-time. This’ll enable you to identify patterns, as well as seestep photo your growth over time.

TIP 1. Be consciously alert for moments where you depart from your normal ways of being or doing. The moment you see or hear something Comfort Zone related in your life – Stop and Pay Attention.

TIP 2. Zero in on the Sensory Components of your disruptive experience:

  • What did you see – hear – feel -do as you were stepping outside your comfort zone?
  • Were there different stages that you went through?
  • If someone were watching you (as you stepped outside your comfort zone), what would they see, hear or feel?

I’m encouraging you here to build as complete a picture as you can. As such, you might prefer to visualise it through drawing it. Alternatively you may prefer to voice record your experience. 

Vivid, Focused Explorations

In building a Vivid Picture, we’re aiming to lay a solid foundation for reflection. We’re also building our repertoire of language relating to comfort zones (in terms of specific vocabulary, phrases or practices).

There’s one other aspect – we’re normalising an in-depth examination of disruptive Comfort Zone thinking, feeling, and practices. Normalising it as an everyday practice for us.

In so doing we move beyond the surface level rhetoric – about comfort zones – which can sometimes leave us wondering: But how do I do that?  How do I disrupt or shake up my comfort zone?

In focusing on Self-Talk (i.e. what we hear as we attempt to step outside our comfort zone) – we enter the worlds of our internal voices.

Self-Talk is an oft-spoken topic online, as in how to navigate those pesky voices that go round and round in our heads? So here’s some questions to ask yourself:

A: What internal voices did you hear (over and over) – as you attempted to take a risk and step outside your Comfort Zone?

  1. What did you say or do – in response?
  2. Which approach was most effective – in enabling you to push through?
  3. What do you think made this practice so effective? 

B: What did you imagine others saying to you – or saying about you? 

  1. What was said that you viewed as positive or enabling? What made it so?
  2. How did you make use of such discourse?

 C: What did you say or do – in response – to ‘negative’ or ‘limiting talk?

  1. Which approach was most effective – in enabling you to push through?
  2. What do you think made this specific approach so effective?

D: What did you say to yourself or do: before – during and after?

  1. Which approach was most effective – in enabling you to push through? 
  2. What do you think made this approach so effective?

E: Did you feel any reactions within your body? For example, tightness within chest, heavy load felt on shoulders, and/or shallow breathing.

  1. What did you do in response? 
  2. Which approach was most effective in freeing up or relaxing your body?
  3. How do these bodily reactions compare to those reactions you felt when stepping outside your normal ways of being and doing? 

Solid Understandings of Resources

Many of the above questions focus on Strategies. Here it’s critical to zero in and identify your Personal Resources. For example:

  • People who encourage and support you to step outside your comfort zones.  They must be people that have your best interests at heart; that challenge you; and hold you accountable.
  • Specific Skills, Knowledge or Experience that you tap into – to enable you to successfully disrupt your comfort zone. 

 It’s also worth being aware of, and reducing your exposure to, potentially toxic influences:

  • People that belittle you, doubt you, or consistently view situations through negative lenses;
  • People who are invested in your staying right where you are NOW or where you USED TO BE;
  • Media that’s negative, nasty, narrow-minded or limiting. 

Rich Understandings of Self

As you examine your relationship to your comfort zone, keep coming back and focus on you:

    • What are you learning about you and your ever-changing relationship with ‘risk’, ‘discomfort’, adventure, innovation…?
    • What skills and knowledge are you developing – that consistently serve you?
    • What are your go-to, most reliable strategies? Which situations are they most effective in?
    • What self-talk is especially helpful to you?
    • What have you successfully accomplished that previously would have been in the ‘too hard’, ‘ not possible for me’, or ‘you’re dreaming, right?’ categories?
      • This question highlights the importance of keeping track of the steps we’ve taken toward our comfort zone – no matter how big or small.
      • Often-times we’re so busy, moving forward that we lose track of all that we’ve achieved. Keep note and make time to celebrate your efforts and achievements.
  • And an IMPORTANT REMINDER: Should something not work, don’t beat yourself up! You’re out there taking chances – seeking to grow and develop.
    • View your efforts as iterative steps -that you’ll critically reflect on, and learn from as you go.
    • You are indeed a ‘work in progress’ and that’s pretty exciting.

Comfort Zone Resources

Here’s some further ideas to support you as you navigate your Comfort Zone.

  1. Check out my Disrupt Your Comfort Zone 101 Resource Page. It’s filled with tips and insights to help you navigate your comfort zone.
  2. Subscribe to my Pushing The Edge Podcast – where I chat with innovative educators who are stepping outside their comfort zone and actively creating lives where they thrive.
    1. Apple Podcasts
    2. Android or Windows
  3. Search for #comfortzone or ‘comfort zone’ on Twitter – for inspiration and resources.
  4. My Make Change Happen 101 page – has a number of posts relating to taking risks and getting vulnerable. There’s also some inspiring book recommendations.
  5. If you’re interested in Reflective Questions, I wrote a post about Looking Back to our Creative Past – to inspire and fire us up in the present.