The Truth About 'Comfort Zones'


We have all heard the term ‘comfort zone’, usually in the context that we should be getting out of ours. The idea is that we have established an area emotionally, mentally and spiritually, in which we feel ‘at home’, and that this is not ‘good’ for us. We can only grow, they say, by leaving this zone behind and becoming uncomfortable on purpose - this leads to expansion, supposedly.

I’m not entirely sure that this is what happens. It seems to me that experience is relentless, and that the borders of our ‘comfort zones’, such as they are, are constantly besieged; hardly a moment goes by in this world without some kind of encroachment from outside occurring. If we deny that outside world and its advances, it seems that it is only encouraged to become more strident or even more violent in claiming our attention. The image of a ‘comfort zone’ can therefore be misleading: in actuality, we are surrounded at all times, and something else is taking place perpetually all around us. This happens whether we wish it to or not.

So what is this ‘something else’? And what can we do about it?

Broadly, it will suffice to call it ‘experience’, the apparently random flow of events which seems to come from ‘outside’ and which is to all intents and purposes beyond our control. In fact, ‘that which is beyond our control’ would be another definition for it. It is remorseless, unceasing, unforgiving and always alien in the sense that it does not seem to come from us.

What do we do with it? What should we do with it?