The 3 C's
Comfort Zone - Courage - Confidence
We all know the term comfort zone, right? It consists of habits, routines, automation, we can just do what we need to do, without much thinking, just get on with daily business. And we all know and remember very well when we were out of our comfort zone.
Be it by making a mistake, or by being confronted with an unexpected situation, or through unforeseen circumstances - being outside of that zone is…uncomfortable. Our bodies react with stress, adrenaline and cortisol are released to activate those areas in our brain that are responsible for problem-solving.
Being thrown out of the comfort zone, we are no longer just uncomfortable, we are in the fear zone, and the survival instincts kick in, not much thinking is happening, we just either fight or flight.
What does the comfort zone have to do with confidence? While being in our comfort zone, we are confident, we know what we are doing, nothing unexpected usually happens, and we start to get a bit bored.
Boredom does damage our confidence, as we start to ask ourselves: why am I doing this, what for, where is the purpose in my activity? As humans, we are made for problem-solving, we need our fair share of challenges in order to feel mentally satisfied, and to feel confident that we can cope with what we choose to cope with, or with the challenges life throws at us.
It feels so great if you mastered a challenge if you delivered that speech, you went to that unpleasant appointment and you learned that you can do this, and the next time you are confronted with the same problem, based on your previous experience, you are confident that you can solve it.
To deliberately leave our comfort zone, that is to not be kicked out of it but to choose to look for new challenges takes courage. As much as we need challenges to keep our brains active, we also love our habits and routines, they provide the rest and ease we need to feel safe. However, these days, and under normal circumstances that is, we can choose our challenges, we can choose to leave the comfort zone. Yet, we need the courage to do so.
Courage is not throwing yourself blindly at any adventure without much thinking, that is plain stupidity, and will not help you to grow more confidence in the long run. Courage is about making an assessment of the benefits and risks involved and making the right decision for yourself.
To go on an expedition requires courage, and courage is your motivator to leave your comfort zone. If you went on an expedition unprepared, your courage would not be worth its name.
Courage is about looking at the risks, facing your fears, engaging in an honest conversation with yourself, determining your goals, and deliberately taking actions to expand your comfort zone. According to Dr. Stephanie Burns, you need a ‘bravery strategy’ which allows you to engage with your fear, decide on small steps to take and thereby, feeling in control.
Fear is tricky, as it keeps us alive but it also keeps us from doing what we would love to do. The first important step if fear keeps you from achieving your dreams, your goals is to face it: what are you actually afraid of? Will you truly risk your life in trying what you would like to do? Or is it social fear, the fear to lose your face when you fail?
The second step is to tell your fear that you take it seriously and that you will keep yourself safe.
The third step is to prepare yourself to conquer the fear. Here, it is important to gently stretch your comfort zone. Are you afraid to speak in public? Practice alone in front of the mirror, then ask a friend who you trust to listen to you. Are you afraid of not being able to run 5 k? Start with one kilometer, and allow yourself to walk in between!
Preparation, small steps, a good plan and support are all part of being courageous. When did you last left your comfort zone and went on a little adventure? Adventures can start in your mind, dare to dream, make a plan, feel the excitement when thinking of actually doing what you imagine. I believe that one important lesson this crisis has taught us is that adventure might happen inside of our minds or just around the corner. Dare to dream and dare to grow!