Saturday, April 17, 2010

HSP Comfort Zones and Who We Are

I have been thinking, recently, about the notion of "Comfort Zones" and who we are, inside and outside our comfort zones.

Much has been written in the popular press-- and especially in self-help books-- about the need to "push the envelope" and "step outside our comfort zone" but I feel increasingly compelled to examine this notion, in the specific context of being an HSP.

Where does "complacency" and "learned (self-imposed) helplessness" end, and simply "managing our energy in a self-caring way" begin? I can certainly see how always choosing to stay safe might lead to stagnation, but isn't it also true that much of our greatest creative output happens when we're "in our (comfort) zone?"

A while back, I was talking to a friend about comfort zones and knowing where we are OK and "within limits," and where we're not. Personally, I'm an introvert, and definitely do not possess the well-documented "thrill seeker" gene. Many would consider me rather reclusive and not particularly people-oriented. I'd agree with that assessment-- the psychic energy of crowds can be very exhausting, so I tend to avoid them. That said, I do like people, and I am not socially anxious or avoidant-- it's just that my preference is for spending my time with one person at a time, and I give myself permission to be quite selective about who gets my energy.

My point being, I have certain "limits." My choice of limited social interaction is not a thinly veiled cover for social anxiety, shyness or some other kind of avoidance-- it's a response to the fact that being "on" in a group of ten people for six hours is absolutely and totally exhausting to me. What I would like to add to that statement, is that I may actually have a really good time, with those ten people... that's not what's in question..

I feel that when we consider "Comfort Zones," especially as HSPs, we must pause to consider the deeper "whys" that draw us to staying in them. Staying within our comfort zone because we are fearful of leaving it is a very different situation from choosing to mostly stay in it because experience has taught us that it's simply wise self-management.

There are those who would argue that we can "train ourselves" to overcome things that are difficult for us. Sure. I can also train myself to hit myself in the head with a ball peen hammer every morning... but why would I want to? What are our motivations? Simply pushing outside our comfort zones "for its own sake" is just plain idiocy, and surely almost as toxic as feeling trapped inside by fear. To use a simple metaphor, if you know you're going to throw up every time you ride a rollercoaster, don't keep riding rollercoasters just because "it's outside your comfort zone!"

It should also be remembered that comfort zones are not a "one size fits all" proposition. Although it's a nice ideal-- heavily perpetuated by the "New Age" movement-- that we are all one and the same, the truth of our lives in this three-dimensional plane of existence is that we are NOT all equal, and NOT all the same. We may be the same in the eyes of Spirit, but not in terms of biology! Let's just start with the very fact that we are sitting here, and have "differentiated ourselves" as HSPs. What could be a clearer statement that "we are not the same" than that?

Anyway, to conclude this train of thought, I believe we must pause and question not so much the "that" we have Comfort Zones, but the "why" being in them. A Comfort Zone is a healthy self-preserving space which shouldn't be regarded negatively unless we become pathological about never leaving it.

Talk Back: How aware are you of your Comfort Zones? When you are completely honest with yourself, do you use them as a way to retreat from (or avoid) life, or just as a safe haven that gives you the strength to make "excursions?" Do you feel like you are in balance, with your "in" and "out" time?

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