Comfort Zone Malarkey

Comfort Zone Quotes - A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but n

I don’t know when all this stuff about comfort zones started ‘trending’ to use that terrible word that always gets me thinking of bell-bottom trousers!

Here’s the one that  got me really fired up:


Surely to goodness, life is about ‘finding your comfort zone,’ not jumping off it into a metaphorical bed of jagged rocks.

Have you ever trying growing  sun-loving plants in the shade? I have on a few occasions and they all died. A similar fate befell tender plants that I insisted on leaving out in heavy frosts.  I remain to be convinced that people are any different to plants in terms of requirements.

I contend that we prosper if and when we find our comfort zones ~ be it in school, college, employment, relationships, hobbies.  What a wondrous thing to see a people who are clearly comfortable in their jobs. For some reason, teachers come to mind here. I’ve known those who clearly loved what they did and both they and their pupils shone. Equally, I’ve known a few who were obviously not in their comfort zone and the consequences for the pupils (and I presume the teachers in question) was a living hell.

Where does the ‘get out of your comfort zone‘ leave older people who wish to remain in their own homes to see out their days? Should they be pressed towards ‘growth’ in a nursing home or some kind of assisted-living centre?

I certainly intend to pursue a path towards my comfort zone. Will you be coming with me or will you be the person I see out of the corner of my eye as I sit on the cliff top soaking in the sea air?

The Copper Coast, Co. Waterford
The Copper Coast, Co. Waterford




Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

33 thoughts on “Comfort Zone Malarkey”

  1. I like your take on it, so people who are at peace and content with what they have are dead? I think we will eventually see a backlash to all of this judgmental “inspiration.” If you are displaced by war or have undergone trauma you certainly do not celebrate the loss of your comfort zone, the people judging those who crave that comfort lived very sheltered, blessed lives and perhaps should be seeking to understand how others live instead of telling them how to do so, in fact you inspired a future post for me, thank you.

  2. Oh I love this, Jean! It is so true… why should we NOT want to find our comfort zone(s)? Why are we considered complacent or foolish if we do NOT wish to jump off the cliff? How about if we already did do the jumping and now just want to enjoy the view?

    Mind you… we usually have to get a tad uncomfortable whilst we strive to get to that comfort zone… 😉

  3. I have to watch myself on the comfort zone front, as sometimes when I’ve dared push myself past it, I’ve achieved things I previously thought impossible. The downside of this is, that these things have stretched me so far that I’ve often taken a long time to recover from the mental energy exerted and the amount of accompanying stress. If I envy anybody, it’s those who have found their comfort zones and are content to stay in them. I will die “stick-thin” if I don’t settle down a bit with age!

    Thanks for your post. It has given me definite food for thought.

  4. I can see both perspectives Jean … and they work for me in different ways and in different times. Comfort needn’t be stagnant, it can be refreshing and inspiring. What was our comfort zone as a child is different from today. However, when we allow ourselves to stretch beyond its safe limits we can grow in new directions.
    If we choose to.
    Meeting life where we are I think is more important than continually striving towards a future goal.
    Its all about choice and being present.
    Val x

    1. Hi Val, I agree that meeting life where we are is more important than thinking about future goals and that choice is fundamental.
      I feel that the fact that life throws huge challenges at most people ~ ones that cast them well out of their comfort zones is often overlooked in this whole ‘comfort zone’ movement.
      The displacement by war example given by betternotbroken above is obviously an extreme example of this. In these sorts of situations, choice may not be much of an option and the ‘being present’ may well be about managing to somehow stay alive.

      Re the growing up and the comfort zone issues there, I feel that stretching beyond safe limits is clearly part of that ~ as in driving alone for the first time ~ but I think there’s huge pressure being exerted on young people to take on things that may not be for them at all. For example, to push a child that has no interest in sport into a game like rugby ~ where he/she is way out the comfort zone seems absurd particularly if he/she has definite leanings in other directions, like dance or writing. I simply don’t understand the logic of it all or have those who put forward these ideas not thought them through to their logical conclusions or lived ‘blessed’ lives, as betternotbroken suggests,

      I’m putting these questions to you as you suggest that you can see both sides. I can’t!

  5. Our relationships with other people, professionally or socially, benefit form our ability to understand them. This requires some versatility. A person that stays tightly pulled into the “comfort zone” of their own home style of behavior will feel some significant stress when asked to reach out, or cross over to what seems to honor the emotional or social needs of some other individual that seems motivated differently from us. So am I to presume my style is the only good place to be, and all others must come to me, putting their own comfort zones at risk in order to honor mine?

    The challenge of the Golden rule–to treat others as I would wish to be treated faces a challenge: Not everybody wishes to be treated the same way I do. Their needs and concerns could be different from mine. If I am to honor others in social interactions, doesn’t it make sense for me to pay attention to how they wish to be treated?

    But for any of us to become versatile in that way, it does not require we give up our “comfort zone” entirely, but learn how to expand it. Most of the tensions in social situations come from misunderstandings. So to move closer to understanding, which is what a free and independently self-reliant mind will want to do (since it makes them less unhappy and confused), we would all expand our comfort zones tremendously, because the tensions of interaction will diminish significantly.

    The Driver fears loss of control, and can become quite autocratic when feeling such a threat exists;
    The Amiable fears the very idea of being hated,
    The Analytic fears being wrong, and sometimes worse, being seen as wrong,
    The Expressive fears losing applause and therefore validation.

    Their comfort zone is when those issues are not threatened. The Driver And the Expressive are both assertive, but often mistrust each other: The Driver sees the Expressive as impulsive; the Expressive sees the Driver unwilling to recognize the value of the Expressive’s ideas. Te Amiable feels the Driver might not like them, and the Driver sees the Amiable as indecisive. The Analytic is terrified of deadlines, but Drivers tend to respect their information. If a person is not flexible to ever move from their social style comfort zone, everybody they deal with that is of a different style will feel the tension, because they are being pulled from theirs.

    So, it’s not that we have to just leap from our comfort (which most of us don’t do that easily), but learn through understanding how to expand it. The truly versatile manager might therefore be difficult to profile accurately sometimes. And the reason would be that almost everyone associated with the manager would “feel” the manager wants and needs the same things they do.

    As I’ve often asked young managers, What if your team thinks the ‘what’s in it for them’ was as important as the ‘what’s in it for you’? What if they don’t think that? And often the “what’s in it for me” that so many struggle for is to simply be understood, and respected for who and what they are.

    1. Hi Van, I tend to see comfort zones and mindsets as being different. I agree absolutely that we need flexibility in order to understand other people’s points of view but I’m not sure that that’s the same thing as me, for example, getting out of my comfort zone as a sports lover to spending my sports time at operas so that I can converse with opera enthusiasts. I know this is a frivolous example but I suppose it relates to actions as opposed to thoughts. I must say I wouldn’t want or expect a non sporting opera person to take up sport so that they could somehow share my experience or grow!

      1. Jean, several consultants that use social style models in leadership training refer to “comfort zones” as the place where the emotional needs of an individual determined by primary needs and fears of that style are being met. Those who tighten up and remain unwilling to recognize with understanding and display of sincere empathy for the “comfort zones” of others of variant styles, will always have difficulty gaining the commitment of others who behave differently than they do due to temperament. The result of this often causes people to use descriptive adjectives that imply judgement when attempting to communicate with each other, or about each other. That reduces motivation to the carrot and whip, where only monitored compliance can be honestly expected at best. At worst, it’s a team-breaker.

  6. I recently posted about comfort zones, Jean. One of the points I found fascinating is that many people seek to be/live in their comfort zone. And this is a laudable space when transitioning from a panic zone. But in my mind, what few readily acknowledge and strive for, is to experience and be in their growth zone. It’s too easy to rest in a comfort zone. Absent challenging ourselves (in minimally stressful ways), growth and realizing one’s potential does not manifest in comfort zones.

    1. Eric, thanks for commenting. The notion of growth being incompatible with comfort intrigues me. Obviously we are speaking a different language as I think both of us are in favour of growth. It’s the notion of pressing into a growth zone, and possibly doing stuff that is as alien and unhelpful as being a tender flower in heavy frost, just doesn’t make sense to me. I’m here to be convinced, though!

      1. It’s getting late and sleep beckons. Yet, if I don’t reply now, the opportunity will wane. Firstly, I do not attempt to convince people but I’ll try to clarify my original comment.

        I’m all for and encourage people to grow. And growth is possible in all three zones. Organic-like growth can and does take place for those who reside in their comfort zone. It happens naturally and doesn’t require a whole lot of watering. This is evidenced in people who choose to and appreciate being ‘in flow’ or ‘the now.’ Simply being.

        Those living proactivley in a growth zone experience intentional growth as they are in that space/place via a prompt or prod and their efforts to grow are more intentional. It’s their conscious choice to be challenged and to further develop personally, that finds them in this zone.

        Interestingly (or perhaps, oddly), people also experience growth (and awareness) when in a panic zone — whether they arrived there voluntarily or involuntarily. Being in a panic zone can find one aligned with discomfort or things unpleasant, maybe even fearful. That alone can stimulate growth (think: fright or flight) as a means or way to extricate themselves from a place/situation that they want out of. Even in a panic zone, creativity and innovation (which are growth ingredients) can flourish.

        What I’m trying to say (between yawns 🙂 ) is that I not only find growth compatible with comfort; I also see growth in the bookends to a comfort zone.

        I’m of a mind (and I challenge self-aware and strong clients) that recognizes stress as sometimes valuable. I would not encourage anyone to do things deemed unhealthful or dangerous, but I do believe there are some people who can handle things at and sometimes beyond their perceived limits. If they want.

        Intentionally pressing into a growth zone isn’t for everyone. But for some, it can heighten experiences and in doing so, bring them closer to, if not beyond, their potential perception.

        And now I will retire for the night. I’ll revisit what I’ve written tomorrow, hopeful that it scratched the ‘making sense’ surface.

        Thanks for the invitation to elaborate, Jean.

        1. Eric, thanks for taking the time to elaborate and I have been over to your blog to read about comfort zones there.

          The intentional move out of comfort zone and into growth zone is interesting but it seems to me to imply that people are inherently terrified of challenges and of challenging themselves. I wonder is this the case in general terms?

          In ways, I think it is quite a luxury to step intentionally into growth zone as life tends to throw challenges, such as illnesses, homelessness, poverty, starvation at so many.

          The idea of doing something weird to step outside one’s comfort zone is also interesting. Watch this space!!

          Thanks again. Really, I think we are both talking about realising potential and encouraging that in others but may well be climbing opposite sides of the same mountain. What do you reckon?

        2. I am loving this discussion between the two of you! Definitely makes one think – and that is always a good thing as it helps us grow as well, doesn’t it?

        3. Indeed, we are on a similar page. Encouraging people to grow and realize/appreciate their potential is time and energy well spent. Here’s to scaling mountains via different paths. 🙂

            1. I don’t believe you’re aware of my heritage. I’m half Irish, Jean. My maternal grandmother was from Ballina, County Mayo and my grandfather, born in County Kerry grew up in Broadford, County Clare. I know and appreciate slainte. 🙂

  7. I saw this recently too. It’s an absurd proclamation that likely began with good intentions, but struck me as ridiculous and arrogant. How exactly does comfort equated with stagnation?!? Malarkey is right! Of course it’s good to push forward, but this misguided statement is worth its weight in “fluff” 🙂 ❤ ❤

  8. This wonderful post–and all of the great comments by you and readers–are so rich and thought-provoking. I’m intrigued by Eric’s comment about a growth zone; and your responses about flexibility. There’s somewhere in the middle where I can find the right balance for me.

  9. What an interesting thought Jean, and, as you acknowledge, one that goes against conventional wisdom. I’ve yet to read the previous comments but will do so with interest after this.
    I suppose my immediate thought is that we would live in a sadder, less advanced age without those before us that pushed boundaries. They laughed at the mad inventors, thought adventurers and explorers were crazy. Entrepreneurs took risks, went broke, tried again and succeeded.
    While the comfort-seekers were sitting at home watching TV Hilary was conquering Everest. Maybe if the Wright Brothers had not risked their necks we’d still be looking up at birds wishing we could fly.
    Maybe it’s inevitable that some, at least, of the human race feel the need and urge to push into the unknown, feel the ‘buzz’ of risk, try something that may fail but which will give immense satisfaction if successful. Take the path less trodden, see what’s around the bend.
    The comfort zone is a fine place but it leaves us fat, flabby, insular. If the teachers in your example have not lived a little then they won’t inspire their students. We all should have tales to tell. Then, as we get older, we can retreat and let the young ones have their day.

    1. Roy, thanks for this perspective. I’m inclined to think that the ‘buzz of risk’ is associated more with personality than age and it’s great that there are those for whom this is a comfort zone. At least, that’s how I’d see it. I think they would be miserable not getting that buzz.
      Definitely having tales to tell is important but again I don’t know if that requires going out of one’s comfort zone ~ perhaps it’s in the pursuit of it. I don’t see a comfort zone as a given but something we have to seek out. Some never find it; some think they have but aren’t sure and some never do. I’m sure there’s lots of other variants. For example, to find it and then lose it!

  10. Yay for the comfort zone! Not something I’ve challenged before but you’re so right, if our aim in life is to reach our potential in whatever we’re meant to do (which I believe it is), then it’s true – I’m in my comfort zone when I’m writing, but I love writing, so what’s wrong with that?! (The challenge for me would be having to stand up and talk about my work, so that would be a necessary evil that is outside of my comfort zone)

    1. Andrea, I’m glad to have you by my side about the comfort zone.
      I’d never, ever have imagined that standing up to talk about your writing would be a challenge to you. I’d love to be there to hear you talk about it!

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