Getting Outside The Comfort Zone




…people see what they expect to see and they find reasons for oddities to protect the comfortable order and predictability of their lives.

A Tangled Web
Judith Michael

I have taken to carrying a sketchbook with me. I doodle, using Artists pens and colored ink. I do not set out to create a realistic image, but simply play with repetitive lines and patterns. I very seldom have more than a vague idea in my head when I begin and am often surprised at what occurs and the eventual outcome.

When people see me thus engaged, they often ask what I’m doing. I tell them the truth, “I’m doodling, playing with the colors, lines and patterns.” And as these same people look through the sketchbook, they invariably point at something and tell me what they see, then look at me with a question, “Am I right?”

And, most often, I laugh. Of course they are right. They see what they see and I wasn’t aiming at a realistic reproduction of anything to begin with. I’ve even watched others engage in debates, flipping the sketchbook this way and that, pointing out details to support their interpretations which are usually far removed from one another. Then the debaters turn to me and ask that same question. Again, I laugh and tell them they are all correct. It’s only a collection of lines and color, a balance between dark and light. But, I find that whole scenario fascinating.

Each individual has a level of need to interpret what they see, to make sense of their own experience. Not just with my sketchbook, but with every moment of their experience. When we can’t interpret and make sense of what is happening, we feel a certain dis-ease, uncomfortable, and that in turn, makes us feel less safe, less secure.

The above quote is from a novel about identical twin sisters who decide to swap lives for a week. It is a delicious little secret they share with no one. Something happens and the deception must be prolonged, and eventually one sister dies. The remaining sister opts to stay inside the deception and it is her realization that is quoted above. She makes mistakes with friends and family, but others explain away the gaffes and incongruities in order to make sense of their own realities.

We all do that on some level. Choosing to ignore what doesn’t make sense, dismiss it, or explain it away. That can get us into trouble, but we still choose to do it because it allows us to proceed inside of our own comfort zone. That comfort zone is what we know, it is the filter through which we see and experience everything else we come into contact with.

Reality is, if we stop and question that experience, we might be called on to act in a way that is also uncomfortable, maybe even unknown. Most of us would prefer not to have to do that. So we ease ourselves through whatever is happening by explaining it in terms we can accept and feel comfortable with, as the characters in the novel do.

I have already written about ways to stay open and in the present moment. My sketchbook is doing that for me. I am always looking for new and different patterns of line and shape. Experimenting as I travel through this new realm of possibilities. It has helped me to realize that I have often chosen just such activities for that very reason. I may not have consciously known that was what I was doing, but once again, I am aware that my “play” has a distinct purpose and form. A shape that seeks balance and harmony.

In his book, The Gift of Fear, Gavin De Becker explains that the most basic reason for our developed intuition is to keep us alert and aware in a world that is filled with the unexpected and sometime inexplicable. But, because we have civilized that world, creating rules and regulations, many of us have let the further development of those intuitive processes lag because it takes concentrated effort to develop anything and there are some who actually believe that intuition is no longer necessary to survival.

We have done the same on a personal level, using our past experience to explain or define our present moments, sometimes blocking our own growth and knowledge to remain inside of our comfort zones. We are in danger of losing our intuitive edge because we have civilized our filter of experience.

Stepping outside of our chosen boxes isn’t easy. It can make us uncomfortable and ill at ease. Give us that feeling of being unsafe. Even though I really enjoy what I’m doing inside my sketchbook, each blank page I face off with, contains a bit of those feelings. There was a time, many years ago, when I would have stopped what I am doing because so many others have questioned it, looked perplexed while viewing those pages. Want to know what its purpose is, and what ultimate product I am seeking.

Now, I am okay with saying I don’t know, won’t know until I arrive at whatever destination awaits me. In the meantime, I am as interested in what people find and define inside the sketchbook as they are in doing just that. If nothing else, it makes for fun and interesting conversation, and that isn’t a bad goal in and of itself.

I didn’t begin using the sketchbook with the idea of honing my intuitive skills. The urge to get the sketchbook sort of puzzled me at the time, but it was something I had actually wanted to do for years but didn’t really understand why. It was something I had to talk myself into and give myself permission to do. Then continue to do so in order to maintain and satisfy the urge that got me going in the first place.

Now, although I am comfortable with the sketchbook and enjoy the process I have entered, I find that I am learning a new language inside those lines and colors. A language that informs those deeper areas of intuition and function. I am definitely operating outside the box of my normal comfort zone, and indirectly encouraging others around me to do the same in small ways. I have, without consciously thinking about it, invited myself to see the unexpected and am getting comfortable in doing so.

What do you do that takes you outside of your own comfort zone?



About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here:
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