what is it in psychology? How can you get out and get started? What does it mean to step out of your comfort zone?

What is a comfort zone and how to get out of it?

More and more often today you can hear advice to get out of your com­fort zone. But the wide cir­cu­la­tion of this psy­cho­log­i­cal term does not make it under­stand­able even for half of those who use it from time to time. About how pleas­ant and dan­ger­ous this zone can be, whether it is nec­es­sary to leave it, this arti­cle will tell.

What it is?

In psy­chol­o­gy, the “com­fort zone” a spe­cial def­i­n­i­tion that implies that per­son­al part of the liv­ing space in which the most safe and com­fort­able con­di­tions are cre­at­ed for a per­son. In sim­ple words, the com­fort zone is a state of psy­cho­log­i­cal com­fort, calm­ness, con­fi­dence in the present day and tomor­row. It has a spe­cial per­son­al scheme, pat­terns that make a per­son under­stand that he is com­plete­ly safe. The actions of the indi­vid­ual are pre­dictable, under­stand­able to him, nat­ur­al, when com­mu­ni­cat­ing or cer­tain habit­u­al manip­u­la­tions, he knows exact­ly what result he can count on. This instills in him calm­ness and relax­ation, reduces stress.

From this point of view, the com­fort zone is uni­ver­sal val­ue, since its pres­ence tells a per­son about some sta­bil­i­ty in his life. But there are also dis­ad­van­tages. If you stay in this zone for a long time, a clear under­stand­ing comes that the devel­op­ment of the per­son­al­i­ty has stopped, slowed down, every­thing is so sta­ble and pre­dictable that a per­son no longer needs to set goals, achieve them, work on him­self, improve him­self. It is in hap­py stag­na­tion, like in a swamp.

Once you under­stand this, you come to the under­stand­ing that it is time to change some­thing, not to suc­cumb to the deceit­ful­ness of the com­fort zone, because it not only slows down many process­es, but also pos­es a cer­tain dan­ger. So, for years a per­son can not change any­thing, endur­ing the humil­i­at­ing atti­tude of his supe­ri­ors, low wages, and all because this is his com­fort zone, and it clev­er­ly deceives with a sense of false sta­bil­i­ty and fear of los­ing “and a tit­mouse in your hands.”

Fear of leav­ing the zone that is com­fort­able for him makes a per­son main­tain rela­tion­ships with friends who have long ceased to be inter­est­ing to him and even drag him along to the bot­tom. The fear of los­ing the appar­ent com­fort of the exist­ing zone pre­vents a per­son from break­ing off unpro­duc­tive and unhap­py per­son­al rela­tion­ships, get­ting a divorce, refus­ing to meet with a lover or mis­tress, and try­ing to find true hap­pi­ness.

That’s why psy­cho­log­i­cal quag­mire, called the com­fort zone, is con­sid­ered a neg­a­tive state that needs cor­rec­tion. In any case, this is exact­ly what Russ­ian psy­chol­o­gists and psy­chother­a­pists say. Their for­eign col­leagues do not always agree with them.

Euro­pean experts do not see any­thing harm­ful in the zone, believ­ing that the only thing to do is to expand its bor­ders, and not leave it. Both points of view have every right to exist, and both have their sup­port­ers and oppo­nents.

How does it work?

Every­one has their own indi­vid­ual com­fort zone. There are no two alike. For one, this is a famil­iar old arm­chair and a blan­ket, for anoth­er, it is a cozy parental home. What­ev­er your com­fort zone is, it will work accord­ing to cer­tain laws. First of all, it can­cels any will­ing­ness to act, adapt, adjusts to the usu­al pat­terns of behav­ior and actions “on the machine”. Thus, a zone can be con­sid­ered a spe­cial state of mind that we begin to expe­ri­ence when we find our­selves in cer­tain cir­cum­stances.

A men­tal­ly and emo­tion­al­ly healthy adult can­not “get stuck” in stag­na­tion for a long time, with­out much effort, he smooth­ly leaves the com­fort zone, enters it, expands the bound­aries, brings some­thing new into the usu­al course of things in his life. But there are not so many such healthy peo­ple, alas. Most are prone to stress, and there­fore escap­ing to a com­fort zone becomes habit­u­al for them, and one day they get stuck there, start­ing to stub­born­ly and steadi­ly degrade. The zone act on the ancient human mech­a­nism of adap­ta­tion. We get used to every­thing and sta­bil­i­ty too. And even if at first some­thing in it seems uncom­fort­able, unac­cept­able, uncom­fort­able, stay­ing inside, we get used to it and begin to per­ceive this real­i­ty as the only nor­mal one.

On a con­scious lev­el, a per­son is aware that he is mired. So why isn’t he doing any­thing? This is where the under­ly­ing mech­a­nisms come into play. When think­ing about goals that lie out­side the out­lined zone, a per­son begins to under­stand that this will require fun­da­men­tal changes in real­i­ty.. Ancient instincts at a deep lev­el say that “there” is poten­tial­ly dan­ger­ous, since the results from going “there” are unpre­dictable and are not cal­cu­lat­ed by the usu­al scheme. A per­son imme­di­ate­ly begins to expe­ri­ence stress with all its hor­mon­al emis­sions and “turns on” the uncon­scious defense, sink­ing even deep­er into his “swamp” and erect­ing a three-meter fence around it. Stress imme­di­ate­ly recedes, a feel­ing of com­fort returns. Moti­va­tion goes out, a per­son feels that he made an attempt to go out­side, and the fact that it is unsuc­cess­ful does not both­er him much, and he calm­ly remains in the zone until the next “moti­va­tion­al attack”.

Over time, the fre­quen­cy of such “insights” becomes less and less fre­quent.

Do you need to go out?

This ques­tion does not have a uni­ver­sal answer. The fact is that experts in the field of psy­chol­o­gy often advise every­one in a row to go beyond the usu­al, argu­ing that this is incred­i­bly use­ful. But more cau­tious and even wary psy­chother­a­pists who deal with bor­der­line states of the psy­che and dis­or­ders assure that all progress occurs indi­vid­u­al­ly, and if a per­son cur­rent­ly has seri­ous objec­tive prob­lems, then it is bet­ter to leave every­thing as it is. At least until the prob­lem is solved. Oth­er­wise, you can “run into” not only a tem­po­rary dis­or­der, but also a per­ma­nent men­tal devi­a­tion.

It should be not­ed that for most peo­ple who do not have sig­nif­i­cant exter­nal prob­lems and pre­req­ui­sites for men­tal com­pli­ca­tions, leav­ing the com­fort zone will not hurt and even help in self-improve­ment, in rela­tion­ships, career, self-real­iza­tion. Often life itself throws us out of a com­fort­able “swamp”, some events occur that rad­i­cal­ly vio­late the usu­al mechan­i­cal reac­tions and actions: divorce, part­ner’s depar­ture, sud­den dis­missal, death of a loved one and oth­er seri­ous shocks. Usu­al­ly, if you watch close­ly, this hap­pens just when the per­son is already on the brink or in the process of per­son­al­i­ty stag­na­tion. This is how life forces us to move for­ward, fur­ther, to reach new heights. But is it worth wait­ing for trou­bles and “kicks” from the out­side, if you can start pos­i­tive changes on your own?

There are a num­ber of rea­sons to take action to exit. Grow­ing human needs. And even if it seems that noth­ing in life is chang­ing, the needs are still increas­ing, and it is impor­tant for a per­son to keep up with them. Here are some illus­tra­tive exam­ples. As chil­dren, we were hap­py when they turned on a car­toon and gave us can­dy. When we grew up, we stopped expe­ri­enc­ing the same delight from watch­ing an ani­mat­ed film and can­dy, our needs became dif­fer­ent. These meta­mor­phoses occur con­tin­u­ous­ly in the course of life. Pre­vi­ous­ly, trav­el and over­seas cruis­es were a lux­u­ry, some­thing unprece­dent­ed and unat­tain­able, and today, accord­ing to sta­tis­tics, every third inhab­i­tant of the plan­et invests in trav­el from time to time. Is it only about glob­al­iza­tion? Or is it, again, in a change in the forms of needs?

Step­ping out of our com­fort zone moti­vates us to take action, to explore, to acquire new expe­ri­ences, always aimed at meet­ing grow­ing needs. A per­son does not feel that life is flow­ing past him, he is in the flow, in its very cen­ter.

How can you get out?

There are many ways the main thing is to clear­ly under­stand the need and start act­ing. The cur­rent real­i­ty is far from the only way of devel­op­ment, there are still a lot of options for events, and you should not be afraid to leave your so famil­iar and pre­dictable “swamp” in order to receive amaz­ing, wide oppor­tu­ni­ties as a reward.

Most often, experts rec­om­mend act when leav­ing the com­fort zone accord­ing to a clear­ly defined plan of action. We remem­ber those “traps” that our uncon­scious “I” will place, and these will be fears and uncer­tain­ty, stress. A plan is need­ed to force your­self to step over your stress respons­es. If it does not work out, at this stage, anoth­er unsuc­cess­ful attempt to exit or expand per­son­al com­fort­able space usu­al­ly ends.


If you do not have a goal, then there will be no “bea­con”, an impor­tant land­mark that will help expand the bound­aries of a com­fort­able space. Write down all the goals that you would like to achieve, no mat­ter how strange or unbe­liev­able they may seem. Remem­ber that you need to for­mu­late goals cor­rect­ly. There is no goal to buy a car, but there is a goal to gain free­dom of move­ment, to be able to trav­el by car. Can’t be the goal of mil­lions of dol­lars. The goal is to live in abun­dance, afford expen­sive pur­chas­es, and a mil­lion is one of the tasks. If you want, then the task is for you. Just cal­cu­late the required amount of funds and start look­ing for their source — a new job, part-time job, play the lot­tery.

It’s not that hard to learn how to set goals. Ask your­self why you gen­er­al­ly need this or that desired thing — mon­ey, con­nec­tions, rela­tion­ships, oppor­tu­ni­ties? The answer will be the for­mu­la­tion of the goal. The more goals you set, the bet­ter. Divide your goals into dead­lines, if nec­es­sary, set your­self cer­tain dead­lines, this will help you cope with exit fears, and will also be a great goal-set­ting exer­cise.

Be sure to write down the goals on paper, you should see them, keep them at hand.


Imag­ine more often what you will get, what you will become when the goal is achieved, fix your feel­ings, remem­ber them. This will be the basis of moti­va­tion. As soon as there is a desire to drop every­thing and return away from stress back to the usu­al psy­cho­log­i­cal “quag­mire”, repro­duce these feel­ings in your mem­o­ry, they will become “anchors” that will help you return to the right course.

Moti­va­tion with­out goal set­ting is impos­si­ble, which is why this is the sec­ond stage of work to expand and get out of the com­fort zone. If there are prob­lems with the will, it is worth get­ting reli­able part­ners and asso­ciates. Share goals and ideas with loved ones, a friend, girl­friend, loved one, but imme­di­ate­ly stip­u­late with him that you can change your mind halfway, ask them to per­sis­tent­ly guide you towards the goal, despite vio­lent protests. Moti­va­tion is espe­cial­ly help­ful if a com­rade-in-arms decides to move towards a goal with you, attends train­ing ses­sions, class­es, Mon­go­lian lan­guage cours­es, a dance group, a den­tal clin­ic, dri­ving cours­es or an extreme sur­vival school with you. He will cheer you up when it’s bad, calm you down when fears start to take over, shame you, in the end.

Graduality is important

As in any impor­tant busi­ness, you should not gal­lop over your per­son­al psy­cho­log­i­cal “bog bumps”. Get­ting out of the com­fort zone requires con­sis­ten­cy, mov­ing from stage to stage, look­ing for mis­takes, ana­lyz­ing changes, adjust­ing plans. This work is not done in haste. The faster the start, the high­er the prob­a­bil­i­ty of crit­i­cal errors. We act grad­u­al­ly, mov­ing from goals to the for­ma­tion of moti­va­tion, from easy goals to more com­plex ones. Stick to your plan, stick to dead­lines. Remem­ber that the rapid exit from a com­fort­able space increas­es the like­li­hood of a men­tal break­down, a ner­vous break­down.

But do not try to jus­ti­fy your inac­tion by grad­u­al­ness.. If you feel that you can do more, but slow down, jus­ti­fy­ing this by say­ing that a grad­ual expan­sion is rec­om­mend­ed, then, in fact, you have a prob­lem — either with goals, or with moti­va­tion, or with both.

Alter­na­tive­ly, it may be anoth­er game of the uncon­scious part of the mind, which, in this way, by delib­er­ate slow­ness, is try­ing to pro­tect your per­son­al­i­ty from the stress and fear of the unknown, locat­ed on the oth­er side of your per­son­al swamp.

Don’t go to extremes

If you spent half your life with a book on the couch, obvi­ous­ly you should not imme­di­ate­ly run to the near­est air­field to jump with a para­chute. If you have nev­er played sports, it is not worth the first goal to set a bar­bell lift, the weight of which exceeds your one and a half times. Extremes are anoth­er dan­ger to be aware of in advance. The first pos­i­tive shifts are usu­al­ly pushed to extremes.

Once we have felt that the exit was not a death trick and even brought new plea­sures, allowed us to feel the taste of life that you have already for­got­ten, con­trol over the growth of needs can be min­i­mized. The body will begin to demand adren­a­line, and this threat­ens with unpleas­ant con­se­quences, injuries, men­tal break­downs. You should not rush head­long into the new, giv­ing all your strength, exper­i­ments with new rela­tion­ships will not lead to suc­cess if there are a lot of them, and you won’t earn all the mon­ey.

Con­trol your­self, write down every day the changes that have hap­pened to you in your per­son­al diary. As long as you for­mu­late the feel­ing into a word,. objec­tiv­i­ty, ade­qua­cy of per­cep­tion of real­i­ty increas­es, which is what we need.

Age is not a hindrance

There are no age restric­tions for expand­ing the com­fort zone. An exam­ple of this can be pen­sion­ers who, only after going on a well-deserved rest, dis­cov­ered the world, new hob­bies, got mar­ried, achieved sig­nif­i­cant suc­cess in any field. Such exam­ples are numer­ous. If age is embar­rass­ing, make for your­self a selec­tion of infor­ma­tion about peo­ple who, at your age, man­aged to change their usu­al life. Think about them more often, watch biopics, read books. This will become an addi­tion­al moti­va­tion.

Usu­al­ly old­er peo­ple have more dif­fi­cul­ty in over­com­ing the bound­aries of the com­fort zone. It is dif­fi­cult for them to change their habit­u­al actions, atti­tudes, their own atti­tude, they are more prone to fears and even pho­bias. It is more dif­fi­cult for them to set goals, because it often seems that it is either too late or there is no point in achiev­ing some­thing.

If so, you should seek help from a good psy­chol­o­gist or psy­chother­a­pist. These spe­cial­ists will help you set goals, out­line plans and become reli­able allies in the com­ing pos­i­tive changes.

In short, this is the basis of the tech­nique for get­ting out of the com­fort zone. As for prac­ti­cal advice, here they are.

  • Expand your social cir­cle. Even if you are an expe­ri­enced intro­vert, it is worth allow­ing new com­mu­ni­ca­tion into your life. For starters, let it be com­mu­ni­ca­tion on the Inter­net, grad­u­al­ly bring it to neigh­bors, strangers in a store, at a bus stop, on the street. Remem­ber that expand­ing the cir­cle of com­mu­ni­ca­tions opens up addi­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties to achieve your goals, because among new acquain­tances there may be very use­ful peo­ple who will help.
  • Trav­el. It is not nec­es­sary to imme­di­ate­ly get into debt and buy a tick­et to dis­tant hot coun­tries. Trav­el­ing does not require large cap­i­tal. Start with a week­end trip to a neigh­bor­ing city, see its sights, muse­ums, go to the the­ater, cafes. Take a trip into the for­est. Only one con­di­tion is impor­tant — the place must be unfa­mil­iar, you should nev­er have been in it before. It is this fac­tor that will pro­vide a nov­el­ty of sen­sa­tions and a new expe­ri­ence.
  • Add lit­tle new things to your life every day. We are talk­ing about some­thing that does not sig­nif­i­cant­ly vio­late the bound­aries of the “swamp”, but nev­er­the­less cre­ates a feel­ing of nov­el­ty. Try to cook a new dish from the usu­al set of prod­ucts. The action is sim­ple, but the effect is colos­sal. Instead of a romance nov­el, choose a detec­tive or thriller to read in the evening. Buy new shoes, even if the old ones are still “any­where.”
  • Expand poten­tial. If a job change is not planned, then ask your man­ag­er to sup­ple­ment your usu­al duties with some­thing new, some­thing that you have not had to do before. Par­tic­i­pa­tion in a new project, a new posi­tion, and even a change in work sched­ule will cer­tain­ly help you feel the flow of life dif­fer­ent­ly, more ful­ly.
  • Change your dai­ly rou­tine. Don’t do it dras­ti­cal­ly, but small adjust­ments won’t hurt. Add an hour-long walk in the park to your day, don’t be afraid to destroy false sta­bil­i­ty and dan­ger­ous com­fort by forc­ing your­self to take a walk before bed in the evening. If this is incred­i­bly dif­fi­cult to do, which is very, very like­ly, get a pet, such as a pup­py. In any case, you will have to play with him.
  • learn. New knowl­edge and skills nev­er hurt. It does­n’t have to be quan­tum physics or the basics of micro­bi­ol­o­gy. Sign up for a for­eign lan­guage course, its knowl­edge will come in handy both when trav­el­ing and in find­ing a new, more promis­ing job. Learn to knit, embroi­der, fold pic­tures of amaz­ing beau­ty from rhine­stones, sculpt from clay, allo­cate at least an hour a day for train­ing, use any oppor­tu­ni­ty for this — books, man­u­als, webi­na­rs, train­ing videos, arti­cles by pro­fes­sion­als. An impor­tant con­di­tion is that your train­ing course should be inten­sive enough to achieve the effect of leav­ing the com­fort zone.
  • Take your­self to the next lev­el. At this point, you already have a lay­er of knowl­edge, skills and abil­i­ties. Raise them to a new lev­el, improve, use the advice of experts, com­mu­ni­cate in inter­est groups, read spe­cial­ized lit­er­a­ture.
  • Solve old prob­lems. The peri­od of leav­ing the com­fort zone is a good time to tack­le prob­lems that have been put off for a long time “for lat­er”. “Lat­er” came.

Each solved prob­lem will bring moral and psy­cho­log­i­cal sat­is­fac­tion, more than com­pen­sat­ing for the hor­mon­al stress attack.

Leave a Reply