Actually I like it steady and predictable. I like my routines, my rituals, my familiar environment. I like to know situations, people, circumstances and processes, then they don’t bother me much. No surprises give me a feeling of safety and comfort, of having everything under control, I can let myself go and relax. I’m comfortzoning.
That goes well for a while until my other side pushes forward again. I describe this part of myself as the ‘development junkie’, the good father of my uncomfortzoning. It’s the one that loves to get stretched and grow, to step into the unknown, to be challenged, to dare to try out new and different things. It’s the one which lives according to the motto “the only way out is through”. It rarely goes off totally peacefully. Inner turmoils are preprogrammed, and it generally costs me a strong kick in the backside and a good dose of courage to let myself into the situations that push me into my uncomfortzoning. But the gain is enormous. The feeling afterwards, when I have mastered a challenge, is unbeatable.
It feels to me like I have been uncomfortzoning since forever, loudly as well as quietly.
There have always been moments where I needed it crazy and kind of extreme, well extreme to my definitions of the term. I remember really well a day in my early twenties during my studies, which was kind of a milestone in my Uncomfortzoning path. My boyfriend at that time had just ended our relationship and I was super miserable when my room-mate came and seduced me to go out with her to a bungee jumping event. It didn’t take her very long to convince me as I was happy about any distraction. I mean I wouldn’t have to jump, right? I could only be there and watch.
It was a marketing event of a hardware store. They positioned a crane of 50m height in front of the store on the parking lot, loud music came from the speakers and two handsome guys from the bungee-jump team tried to animate passer-bys to dare a jump. They weren’t very successful at the beginning, people were curiously observing the scene, but no one jumped. Well, I wouldn’t jump either, right? My roommate was befriended with one of the guys and she was really eager to go for it. And actually, the guys were happy as it was the best advertising if someone was jumping. So, she jumped. When she was back on the ground she was glooming and screaming of joy. I realized how a little excitement spread through me. She jumped again. A soulful grin was fixed on her face, she was totally turned up. Hmm, should I maybe try it as well?
I went for it. The way upwards in the crane was pure thrill already. The contours on the ground got smaller and smaller and when we were up at the top, I just thought that the safety mat below was rather a joke, one would never meet it when it mattered. I didn’t really notice how I was secured and led to the edge of the platform.
My stomach was tightened, my breath super shallow, my head empty. All blood was gone from my limbs into my heart that beat like a drum fire in my chest and there was certainly not very much color in my face. I was afraid, really afraid.
Never ever would I manage to jump. I heard a calming voice in my back “breath, slowly and deeply…just relax and let go of your thoughts …“. I breathed. “…and then take your arms over your head, stretch your back and just let yourself fall forward”.
OMG, what am I doing here?!! I took a deep breath…this very moment when I let myself fall forward was as if time stood still. And then I fell. I cannot remember anything of the fall, but the adrenalin rush back on the ground was a bummer. I felt pure energy and joy, now I had the grin fixed on my face as well. I jumped another 5 times that day. After a few days, when the adrenaline had subsided, a feeling of deep satisfaction and a bit proud of my own courage remained. The courage to have overcome my fear and not to have given in to the panicky voices in my head, which did their best to keep me from jumping.
Ever since I do uncomfortzoning regularly by exposing myself to what I call the ‘loud zone’, crazy and wild actions: Jumping into a crevasse, doing a bungee parachute jump, swimming in ice water, running over glowing coals, sailing long distance regatta for two, participating to a musical, taking part in tantric workshops and shamanic rituals…just to name a few.
Every time I learn a bit more about myself, my resistances and the misleading voices in my head, I broaden my limits and create a new normal state.
My uncomfortzoning isn’t always loud, on the contrary, the majority of experiences is rather quiet and happens in the course of everyday life, but is really big for me inside.
My first real conscious encounter with uncomfortzoning was also in my early twenties when I started psychotherapy. I had slipped into a bulimia three years earlier, felt left alone and misunderstood by god and the world, and wanted to get out of my shitty situation. Boy, this therapy really drove me out of my comfort zone. Well, that’s exactly what they are made for, right? Drilling deeper, getting to the bottom of things and helping you to find your way. It was painful and exhausting, and I was confronted so much with my own resistance. How many times have I been furious and cursed my therapist. But at the end all the effort was super worth it, I came out strengthened and content.
My biggest insight from that time was that ‘the only way out of uncomfortzoning is to go through’. And...
... the greatest beneficial collateral effect was definitely that my threshold had dropped to deal with uncomfortable as well as to deliberately bring myself into uncomfortable situations.
Ever since I do uncomfortzoning regularly by exposing myself as well to what I call the ‘quiet zone’, challenges from everyday life.
I remember, for example, having moderated a 200 person event without any stage experience, having accepted an human resources job abroad without speaking the native language and having quit a very well paid job to start my own business. By the way, creating my own business was, and still is, an Eldorado for uncomfortzoning experiences. Having been employed for more than 18 years I literally entered into a totally different universe 6 years ago and it took me some time to learn to walk in it, but hey, the only way out is through.
The reward is a deep feeling of satisfaction, joy and freedom.
This was also the time when I could start living out my ‘development junkie’ even more systematically. Today I am continuously in accompanying development measures for myself, measures that go deep into uncomfortzoning. It’s about the exploration of my own behavioral challenges, such as letting go of my desire to steer and control things, deliberately conducting conversations I would like to avoid, not withdrawing and disconnecting from people when the going gets tough, in fact it’s about constantly challenging my own patterns, beliefs, habits, doing shadow work, trauma healing… just to name a few. It’s an ongoing process of consciously observing and getting to know myself, being open to other perspectives and experimenting with doing things differently. It’s a continuous uncomfortzoning dance between resistance and softening, falling into patterns and realization, insisting and letting go, withdrawing and connecting again, holding the breath and breathing deeply, freaking out and accepting, anger and frustration, and deep deep joy and satisfaction when the dance begins to flow.
What can I say: Uncomfortzoning is my way. And I love it. There is actually nothing to add.