I work with a guy who is intelligent and can actually be pretty interesting if you can catch him at the right time and (the way it seems, at least) if he deems you worthy to be let in. Otherwise, your immediate view of him is that he is a ‘negative nelly’ type of person. We’ve all known someone like that, haven’t we?
I can relate to him on some levels. In my case, when I am more introverted, it is partially motivated by what I feel are noble reasons - I don’t have a desire to persuade people to believe what I believe, I don’t want to judge people - I just want to respect that their opinions are their opinions, and maybe I just have either a lot of stuff running through my head or absolutely nothing at all running through my head. Okay so maybe that last example is more ‘honest’ than ‘noble’! But look, if I put those standpoints together with ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all,’ then the resulting silence can often be misconstrued as any number of things, often negative, off-standish, or snobby. I feel that because I'm aware of this, I can make it be ‘just a part of me as’ opposed to ‘who I am.’
My co-worker doesn’t. I am afraid that he has dug in pretty tightly into his comfort zone.
I thought about this the other day - comfort zones. They are a bit of a Catch-22. Think about it. We all have a comfort zone that we can default to. Metaphorically speaking, let’s imagine that I (or you) have a comfort zone that is like an actual bubble. To start off, let’s say the bubble is as big as your living room or a similarly-sized space. For my co-worker, time and experience has caused his bubble to shrink to about a third of that space, and he remains in his comfort zone whenever possible. Since he chooses not to go outside of it, the bubble never gets stretched or expands. Doesn’t it make sense that if you grow your comfort zone bubble, then you can experience more and still stay in your comfort zone? Getting back to the visualization - if I gradually expand my bubble, I can theoretically have a bubble that is miles in diameter or more.
So then what is it that determines how big our bubble is? It’s us. We have absolute and immediate control over the size of that bubble. You don’t have to love all of the stuff you come across as you grow your bubble, but you’ll better understand what it is and how it fits into your life. It is your comfort factor with the fact that it exists that is important. So put yourself in some new positions - grow that comfort level. If you find something you don’t like, then you at least can be honest with yourself about why you don’t like it as opposed to just being apprehensive or making assumptions.
So, next time you are out for a meal order something you 'normally wouldn't order.' Go up and introduce yourself to someone new. Let's grow those bubbles!
Post back with any examples of how you have grown your comfort level bubble. Since this is all kind of vague and conceptual, others may want some extra help via specific examples. Your experiences may inspire someone else.
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