Escape Comfort Zone And Face Fears

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Emine Saner wrote in this Guardian article that facing our fears can make people healthier, wealthier, and happier. “The “comfort zone” is a reliable place of retreat, especially in times of stress – living through a global pandemic, for instance. But psychologists have long ƒextolled the benefits of stepping outside it”.

The comfort zone can, become a prison or a trap, particularly if you are there because of fear and avoidance. people can be mentally, emotionally, physically, socially, occupationally stimulated by facing their fears or trying something uncomfortable. Adaptation and stimulation are important parts of our wellbeing, and a huge part of our capacity to be resilient. We can get stagnant, and it is about growing and finding different ways to be, which then allows us to have a different life experience.

– Roberta Babb, a Clinical Psychologist told The Guardian

A few other Bobb’s quotes that Emine included in the article are adopted below verbatim:

  • “Facing fears can increase confidence and self-esteem, and achieving a goal is associated with a release of dopamine, the feel-good hormone. Then you start to feel better about yourself – you’re aware of what you can do, more willing to take positive risks. You have more energy. It’s a kind of domino effect.
  • “Get comfortable with the idea, when trying something new, that failure is possible, or rather, don’t view it as failure. We go in with a perfectionistic idea about achievement, and that we should be able to do it. The reality is, outside our comfort zone, why would we know how to do it? That’s the whole process.
  • “People think about going from zero to 100, as opposed to all the different steps in between. This is linked to a cognitive behavioural therapy technique called exposure and habituation – you are building up to what you want to do. You have an opportunity to celebrate the little wins that give you a boost of confidence and energy, which makes it exciting.

In the article, Emine also highlights Susan Jeffries, the author 1987 bestselling book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Ethan Kross, professor of psychology and management, director of the Emotion and Self Control Lab at the University of Michigan, and author of Chatter: The Voice in Our Head and How to Harness It, and Pippa Grange, a performance psychologist and author Fear Less.

Below are a few selected quotes from these authors that Emine included in the article.

Susan Jeffries says (via the Guardian):

  • “try something “small or bold” outside their comfort zone each day, building confidence “so that stretching your comfort zone becomes easier and easier”. But it isn’t about becoming generally “fearless”, as if we could override all of human evolution.

Ethan Kross says (via the Guardian):

  • “You wouldn’t want to live life without the ability to experience fear. Fear, when appropriate, is a safety mechanism, but it can sometimes become miscalibrated, so that the fear doesn’t match the reality of the circumstance.
  • “It’s about facing the fears, or overcoming the discomfort, that prevents us from doing the things that are really important for our wellbeing, our relationships and our performance. Those are the instances in which you want to try to regulate the fear.
  • “When you’re afraid of something, you have a mental representation that tells you it’s dangerous. If you then go through that situation, and learn ‘This wasn’t as bad as I thought it was’, that, typically, will update that mental portrayal of the situation.”

Pippa Grange says (via the Guardian):

  • “Living in a “fear culture” affects our lives. It may have shrunk you, so you have stayed small in some ways, limiting your potential and what you can achieve. Fear can also stiffen you into rigid over-control of yourself and the people around you. And it can also push you into painful, burning shame. All of these things send you down a rabbit hole away from your real potential as a human being.
  • “Many of the fears that keep us safely within our comfort zone are “not-good-enough” fear – fear of being exposed, rejected, of not being loved. One way of tackling it, is her “see, face, replace” strategy: explore the fear, face the impact it has on your life, then replace it with something, such as a different story, or a sense of purpose or humour.

“Different tools work for different people in different situations, and there’s a bit of self-experimentation that’s required. He also recommends building exposure to demonstrate the way our fear responses are often out of sync with the actual danger. When we confront those situations, we quickly learn it’s not actually so bad,” Kross told the Guardian.