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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Comfort Zone? Ditch It!

Written by  Janan Broadbent, Ph.D.

If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever. – Thomas Aquinas

Think of times in your life when all was well – job, school, and love life, proceeding smoothly... For some, those are times when an almost-itch starts to develop. Seeking change, looking for some excitement. For others, a need to preserve this state, to savor the comfort and to stay in a homeostatic balance. There is no right or wrong in these approaches to life: We all have learned behaviors, personality styles, character, and preferred modes of behavior. What we do know is that innovation, improvement, or progress does not come out of the comfort zone. The human condition seeks that place of familiarity, and it is only when there is some disturbance, some out-of-whack factor, or even pain, that we act to change. I have worked with many couples that complain about the relationship, but will not make any changes in their behavior, and it is hard to remind them that perhaps the pain is not bad enough to overcome the resistance to change.

Here is a possibly conflicting thought: To enjoy well-being, it is crucial to focus attention on what is positive in your life, to savor the good moments, and to pay more attention to the present – not multitasking. For example, waking up and enjoying the sunshine from the window, as opposed to waking up and dreading the day despite the sunshine. Simple acts of focus, but research has shown that such attention can decrease depression and increase happiness. We all like to be around people with positive energy and that kind of attitude attracts others to us as well.

So what to do if you are in a relationship and your partner does seek experiences out of your comfort zone and you don’t? This is why I am writing this column, to encourage you or your partner if the case is reverse, to trust yourself, to sort through what it is that might make you reluctant, and then to challenge yourself, or your partner. When you make it through a situation that you did not avoid due to fear, the sense of pride and satisfaction in one’s self or also in one’s partner is priceless. When you override the self-doubt, and then see the result, I can guarantee that it will add to the confidence level in spades. And what if you do less than you expected? That you were willing to challenge yourself is what also builds strength. There is no one in this world that has never made a mistake. Go ahead and make the most of every day!

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