Dan Weil
PIQue Coaching and Strategy

Do You “Default” into Known Comfort Zones?

Do you “reset” and Drive Forward

It’s the first moments when your brain registers that delicious sensation combination of smell, taste and temperature of anticipated and savored bites of your very favorite comfort food. Your eyes close, and your mood settles in to comfort-y goodness.

It’s like the moment when you sit in your favorite spot and the environment around you is just perfect. You are about to engage in your favorite activity like meditating, reading, or watching your favorite rom-com movie with your favorite snacks — and you settle in to enjoy this moment.

It’s that friend or lover you go to for that conversation that grounds you and clarifies your thoughts – it’s familiar and comfortable and a release valve.

It’s the swim, bike ride, run, hike or pickup game of hoops that connects you with your body and releases stress that calms your mind — for you it’s a physical comfort zone.

Let’s call these familiar and comfortable places comfort zones. They can be a way of looking at something — a perspective — and they can be a reality we create.

The pale is an ancient fence or boundary that marks the safe border around a community. Inside is safe, outside a bit risky. The further out you go, the more risk there will be.

So let’s say you are creating your own path out there. You’ve taken a few steps out beyond the pale. Notice that you’ve taken something with you. Around your waist you’ve tied your safety rope so that you can pull yourself – or be pulled back inside the pale by your community and what’s familiar. What’s that like?

Let’s acknowledge that inside the pale you’ve got different comfort zones available to you. The ones that you’ve created to enjoy life and provide you with safety. There are different comfort zones inside there like the ones that you may have developed with your life-partner or your family. Inside communities and culture are more designs that keep you inside your “safe harbor.” Consider these lyrics to very popular song by “Little Big Town:”

When your long day is over
And you can barely drag your feet
The weight of the world
Is on your shoulders
I know what you need
Bring it on home to me
Baby, let me be your safe harbor
Don’t let the water come
And carry you away

Okay, I’m a sappy romantic and true confession: I’m a rom-com binge-watching person. No surprises there, right? I love romantic stories and I will binge watch them, read them and listen to songs like this. I appreciate this song and have enjoyed it since I first heard it years ago. It’s been a huge hit. Respect to the writers; E. Tyler Hayes, Greg Bieck, Tyler Hayes, Wayne Kirkpatrick and to Little Big Town for delivering this great song.

When I engage my relentless curiosity I find myself with another perspective that’s available. It may not be the one that I eventually choose to hold onto, however, I notice it. It serves me to notice it too. This perspective I’m pointing to is the “default” one. To me, it’s named it “Inside the Pale.”

Inside here there is safe-harbor. In here it feels protected and protective. I can let go and be taken care of. I have limited responsibility for my own self-care here. I can just curl up and be held. Maybe sometimes I’ll need to dip into this perspective but notice what else is here…. It sounds like, “don’t get carried away” or “when you take your little risks, come back here.”

With curiosity, I ask myself if this song is so successful because it speaks directly to the ancient part of the brain that is all about survival. It’s the part of the culture that speaks directly to the amygdala in our brain and it says stay inside here — where it’s safe, find love and romance inside here — how we define it, let me do this for you — because you’re tired and are not capable any more. It feels COMFORTABLE to be directly spoken directly in this way. It feels like we’re seen for our experience.

Maybe this is true in a moment.

Maybe I like the comfort I get inside this comfort zone.

And maybe I want more for myself.

Maybe you or I want to experience something beyond the pale. Maybe we want to go further than two steps out beyond. Maybe we want to pack up and keep going in our expedition vehicle into the places of the unknown. Maybe out there…. beyond the pale… we want to move outside the comfort zones we know and create new ones that are forged with grit; with ingredients we take with us.

It could be that I release the rope around my waist about ten steps out and instead rely on the ingredients I’ve packed in a waist bag to create a new comfort zone. (I’m trying not to call this a fanny pack). What serves me in this new comfort zone that I get to create?

In a presentation, Mentalist Lior Suchard said that his success comes from a life long practice of studying the mind, body language, and how the human brain works. He uses these skills for good and is constantly experimenting with his learned skills. In his words, (TEDxYouth Presentation) his success has been found in his “relentless curiosity.”

Watching him experiment, play and teach others is fun and you can see it with him. A quest of relentless curiosity.

For fun: watch Lior on The Late, Late Show with James Corden

Here’s an opportunity for you to utilize your journal.

Who are some people you identify that have moved beyond where the comfort zones that they came from and created new ones?

What happens when you truly show courage, get brave and get curious? Do you slip back into the your default comfort zone?

In what ways do your comfort zones serve you?

What moves you forward?