Going beyond the comfort zone

Going beyond our comfort zone is part of many forms of learning, insight, clarification, development and so on… from physical exercise to relationships to learning languages to insight in the workings of the mind and much else. The effort itself may include going beyond the comfort zone, as in physical exercise. And the new terrain we find ourselves in may be beyond our comfort zone as well, as in relationships, learning and insights.

So here too, there is a dual set of beliefs. One that creates a desire to move ahead and beyond what is familiar and/or comfortable. And another which makes us want to stay within it. And both have their function. One brings movement, dynamism and moving into new areas of the landscape, the other stability, rest and deepening familiarity with this area of the landscape.

Through inquiry, we can explore both sets of beliefs, their functions and effects, and how it would be without the attachment and identification with them.

For instance…

Statement: I need to stay comfortable.

  1. Is it true?
    Yes, feels true sometimes. (At times when the impulse or invitation comes up for physical exercise or learning or stretching my mind or identity in different ways.)
  2. Can I absolutely know it is true?
    No, is just a belief. Also, cannot know what is best for my path.
    What is my evidence for the belief?
    A feeling of wanting to stay comfortable. Maybe some beliefs to support it, such as I need to rest, I have done enough for a while, I can learn without going outside of the comfort zone.
    How does that prove the belief?
    The feeling… does not prove it. The other stories about it… they are also just stories and I don’t know if they are true or not.
  3. What happens when I hold onto that belief?
    There is resistance to being stretched, or stretching myself. I want to stay put, where I am, within what is comfortable. I want rest. I want to stay within the bubble of comfort, at least for the time being. If I am pushed, by myself or others or the situation, there is resistance. I complain to myself. I feel like a victim. I experience separation from myself, others, the situation and life. There is a split between what I want, and the way life shows up.
    How do I treat others?
    If they push me, then ambivalent at best. Irritated, annoyed. If they support me in staying comfortable, then as allies.
    How do I treat myself?
    As a victim. As someone who needs to stay comfortable, within what is known and safe and easy. As someone not interested in going outside of it.
    When did I first have that thought?
    In childhood. Maybe following an unpleasant social interaction with other kids (teased, humiliated, etc.)
    How do I live my life when I hold onto that belief?
    I stay within the comfortable, the known and easy. I don’t exercise beyond what is comfortable. I don’t expose myself to new situations. I choose situations I am familiar and comfortable with, and where I can stay within a familiar and comfortable identity. I don’t read things with new or opposing views to what I am used to and agree with, or that requires an effort in attention, thinking or exploring. If I am pushed beyond the comfort zone, I complain to myself or others, try to find a way out of it, and look forward it being over.
  4. Who would I be without the belief?
    Free to move between rest and effort as the situation calls for it, and within the terrain whether it is familiar or not. Free to put effort into learning, into working with relationships as called for by the situation, to exercise beyond what my body can easily do, to explore beliefs and identities and their effects as the situation invites me to.
  5. Turnarounds.
    (a) I don’t need to stay comfortable.
    Yes, I can find that. I have gone beyond what is comfortable many times in my life, and it has been OK. In fact, I have often learned and grown through it. The most rich experiences have often come from going outside of what is comfortable and easy. Also, life invites me to go beyond what is comfortable all the time, so it is inherent in life. And others do it all the time, voluntarily or involuntarily, so it is inherent in human life, it is universally human, we are all in the same boat.
    (b) My thinking needs to stay comfortable.
    Well, yes. The sense of needing to stay comfortable comes from thinking, from an identification with a particular story or set of stories. It is all about my thinking, not anything else.
    (c) My thinking does not need to stay comfortable.
    More true. My thinking seems to be doing fine anyway. They live their own life, on their own schedule, whether there are stories about things being comfortable or not. They are untouched by their own stories of being uncomfortable or not (their content may temporarily change, but thoughts themselves arise as before).

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