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  • Writer's pictureHaulwen Nicholas

Creating our comfort zone. Why we get confused.

Updated: Jun 13, 2023



It's a spring day as I talk about our cosy zone and comfort zone. Yet when we think of cosiness we often think about curling up in front of fires, with hot chocolate, blankets and snuggling against the autumn chills.

Autumn is my favourite time of year, but I can feel cosy at other times too, and all of us have things that make us feel safe, make us feel cosy and comfortable. When we feel at peace, away from the stresses and worries of the world.


Our cosy zone is a place where we heal, a place where we can let down every mask we wear, drop every barrier and just be true to our authentic selves.


True magic happens in our cosy zone, true magic happens when we melt into ourselves when we can be still. When we can be in the moment and love and dream and just be.


The cosy zone is where we embrace all of our preferences, where everything is easy. It's where we can do things without thinking, it's where we heal our minds, our bodies and spirits.


There are different zones we talk about and the comfort zone has got a bad name, but the clues in the name of the comfort zone should be comfortable. Have you ever heard of someone getting their best idea when they are in a crisis?

When we are in crisis many of our systems shut down to focus on the fight or flight response to get us out of the situation. It's not a time for dreaming, it's not a time for daydreaming, it's not a time for going with the flow and looking for inspiration in the world or looking for magic and wonder. In our crisis zone, we are fighting for survival and it's often a bad place to make long-term decisions as you can be operating in a stress response which is far away from who you are normally.


Many entrepreneurs, artists, and authors get their ideas when they are in the shower, their dreams, or on long walks in the countryside. They may get it climbing a mountain if that's comfortable to them, but it's somewhere they are in a state of flow and feel safe and easy with the world.


But many of us operate in a zone of compliance being who we think we should be and doing what we think we should do. Or have become complacent with our lives and aren't looking at ways to expand our comfort zones so inadvertently retreat them for no good reason.


Retracting your comfort zone is often necessary in times of trauma so you can focus on what's important and heal, but if done from a view of complacency then it's not good.


I recently watched Chris Hemsworth on the National Geographical channel doing some challenges and it really highlighted to me how we get the comfort zone mixed up. he said a few times he was out of his comfort zone and I thought "Nope, you are at the edge of your comfort zone, possibly in the challenge zone" but if he was fully outside his comfort zone he would not have done what he did.


So here are the scenarios he was faced with;


1) Being lost in the wilderness with no map, no form of navigation - he was flown over the area first with a friend and then they had to navigate to a certain point in this wilderness. Would you do this? Chris said he went hiking regular but had maps and navigation systems and phones. This time they were missing these, so it was something he was very comfortable with, they just took away a few tools to move it towards the edge of his comfort zone, to make it a little more challenging, but I'll be honest I don't think it was really uncomfortable.

I ask this question of people if they would do this challenge, as I'd happily do this, it may be more challenging in a foreign country but I'd do it. Being in the wilds of nature is in my comfort zone. I know I have a good sense of direction, I literally can point north wherever I am and it's correct to a compass. But when I speak to some people this horrifies them, the very thought brings them out in hot sweats, and their fight or flight response kicks in, this would be in their crisis zone.


2) Chris also had the challenge to walk across a crane on a high-rise building. Now Chris was nervous and the TV was saying it was really challenging for him, but as a man who has done many of his own stunts in his films, we know he doesn't have a hatred of heights. A cautious dislike, which is a good safety mechanism, but not an all-out fear. My husband would do this, he'd be nervous like Chris was so very much at the edge of his comfort zone, but like Chris with the practice and training, he'd do it. The very thought of this makes me sick. I wouldn't even get in the lift, no amount of training could make me do this. I'll be honest I'd rather take on a wild animal and fight it than walk across this crane at height. Nope, never, not ever. It's my crisis zone and my response is to freeze.


3) There was another challenge for Chris which was pulling himself up into a cable car up a rope over a ravine. Like the exercise above he had safety ropes, but even with training my freeze response would come in and I could not do it. I know I'd be a danger to everyone around me, as well as myself if I did. Again my husband would do it with training.


4) Then there was a challenge to do an open water swim, without a wet suit, in freezing winter water in Iceland. Now, I'm not a great fan of the idea, but with training, I would do this because swimming outdoors is in my comfort zone, as long as it's a safe place. I am conscious when I am too comfortable I can get a bit blasé and not see the danger. So, I do stop myself sometimes and my husband has to keep an eye on me (like I do with him wanting to climb high things). But doing this challenge, as Chris did, with proper training, a medic team and a rescue team, yes I'd train to do that, it's right on the edge of my comfort zone really getting a bit challenging, but not so challenging that I wouldn't hesitate to say OK, I'll give it a go. My husband is a firm "no" on this one. He will do the height ones, but not the cold water challenges.


And this is where we can mix up what's in our comfort zone and what isn't. We are told that comfort zone there is no energy, it's a bad place that drains us. No magic happens there, but outside the comfort zone, there is only a challenge zone which borders it. But anything in the challenge zone should be challenging. Though not so far out that we feel so much discomfort that it depletes us, stresses us in bad ways and makes us ill. Which many of us do.


Then the compliance zone that so many of us do with our careers and how we work, we comply with what we think we should do. The role we can do, we will do it easily over time due to us repeating it. But if you get up for work each day and dread the role or the place then it's depleting and draining. We burn out and get exhausted.


As mentioned some people will just be complacent and because of it their comfort zone retracts, they may not feel uncomfortable in their role but equally they.


We have a society now where comfort is frowned upon. We should be learning new things all the time and should never get comfortable with anything. Yet we know that we enter our zone of genius by being able to do something with ease, in our comfort zone.

When we learn to ride a bike initially we have no idea how, but over time we can ride it without thinking. Initially, it can feel incredibly challenging but over time you don't have to think about it. You may expand your cycling comfort zone by riding for longer, doing mountain bike riding, or road racing, but ultimately the more you do it the more comfortable it becomes, that's not a bad thing. And by building on it you can become an expert doing something you love, not because you've been told to do it.


I could write on this forever with so many examples, but I want you to reclaim your comfort zone, and embrace your cosy zone. We thrive in our comfort zones, the challenge zone that surrounds it is part of our comfort zone ecosystem. But we've been made to feel like the crisis zone, that place right over there is where we should be and that's why we are depleted, that's why there's an exhaustion epidemic and that's why we are falling out of love with life.


To thrive we must be comfortable. Animals and plants thrive in the right conditions for each of their unique species and we as humans thrive in the right conditions for each of our personalities. Which are as unique as our DNA.


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