What Your “Comfort Zone” Really Is

"If Approaching The Edge..." by Amy Eliza Wong, life coach in Sacramento and the Greater Bay Area, CA

You know that feeling you get when you approach the edge of your comfort zone, the “edgy,” anxious, or simply uncomfortable feeling that feels like you telling you to watch out and save yourself from something?

That feeling shows up for me most often in relationships, when I push the edge of honesty and authenticity and take a stand for my needs and boundaries. I also experience it in business quite a bit, when I’m approached with an out-of-the-box opportunity that feels beyond my expertise or experience. The thought of “going for it” can range from tingly to paralyzing. 

Just last week I was interviewed on a local radio talk show for The Real Estate Insiders Group because they wanted the perspective of a life coach among the real estate experts and host. When they first reached out I inevitably bumped up against my edge, “I’ve never done a radio show before, what if I’m no good?! What if they ask me a question about real estate I can’t answer? What if I draw a blank and fail miserably at this?!”

Up against that edge, my mind maps the uncomfortable physical sensations to imminent failure. Conditioned to that association, I want to bounce back and keep from looking stupid. 

But is that discomfort really a warning sign of a failed future?

What if that sensation signals something entirely different??

As coach, I live for recognizing the comfort zone. In my world, I think of that edge as the boundary that divides the “predictable possible” from the “impossible” of my life. Instead of thinking of that edge as the boundary that keeps me safe, I try to reframe it as the edge of transformation.

What my fear-based, scarcity-minded self would like me to believe is that approaching that edge and experiencing increasing discomfort are signs that everything will go wrong and I will experience failure, humiliation, rejection or maybe even death if I persist and bust through. Since I’ve spent all my young years training myself to avoid those sensations, then if I’m mindlessly in autopilot mode, I’ll heed the association and retreat back to the middle of my comfort zone. Nothing, then, changes and I strengthen the boundary between my life’s “possible” and “impossible.”  

But I’m not interested in living the predictable possible.

I want to do really cool shit and make a difference in the world! I’m not going to make that happen if I choose to retreat instead of bust through.

I bust through powerfully and excitedly IF I retrain myself to fall in love with those sensations I think are uncomfortable.  They’re just sensations. Sensations I’ve been mapping to failure. But if I can learn to get excited by those sensations instead, and remember that living the impossible is on the other side, then how can I NOT choose to bust through?! Every time I break through I expand that boundary and something pretty amazing happens. 

I read a quote from Larry Page somewhere a while back and it’s stayed with me:

“Always work hard on something uncomfortably exciting.”

His words come with some credible weight. They’re easy to embrace if we reframe that discomfort as a sign of imminent transformation… instead of failure. 

The radio show went well. I had a great time, learned a few things, and they’ve extended an invitation for me to be the authoritative voice of life coaching on their show. Radio was not really a part of my predictable possible so I can happily say now I’ve widened my boundary. And isn’t that part of what living the good life is?!

Now, how about you?

What edgy requests and opportunities in relationships, experiences, and business can you say YES to widen your boundary of possibility? What would happen if you transformed your relationship to discomfort so that you excitedly welcome instead of avoiding it? Leave me a note and give me the goods! Nothing’s more delightful than sharing in the joys, wins, and a-ha’s of life. 🙂

Always On Purpose,

Amy Eliza Wong is a life coach, writer, and speaker in Sacramento and the Greater Bay Area committed to helping people figure out what makes them tick so they can finally live with joy and real purpose. Learn more about working with her.

4-Step Process to Resolve Conflict Quickly

Learn to reduce friction, be heard, & find an agreeable outcome in 4 easy steps.