As a fellow introvert, you’ve probably heard plenty of people tell you that you need to get out of your comfort zone. This is annoying, to say the least. Especially because the people who try to poke and prod you out of your comfort zone don’t really know you. They don’t know what you are and aren’t capable of in that moment. Because here’s the thing.
Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, you have your own unique zone of comfort. For example, if you’re an introverted advertising exec, giving a presentation at work is likely well within your comfort zone. And yet, speaking to your colleagues during lunch might make you anxious.
Regardless of what your comfort zone looks like as an introvert, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about expanding it. Allow me to explain with a strange and slightly embarrassing experience I had recently.
This was definitely out of my comfort zone
I went to an ecstatic dance event at a yoga studio. This type of dance is all about abandoning yourself and moving freely with the music.
I do a lot of partners dancing (salsa, bachata, kizomba), but dancing without steps in a yogi atmosphere was something different. It might have been okay if it wasn’t for my embarrassing entrance.
The WRONG way to do it
I walked in late and everyone was sitting in a circle doing a guided meditation. I tried to tiptoe in as quietly as possible. I gently set down my coat atop the pile of other coats on a table. But it fell off and knocked over a cup of pens and a tea light candle. The pens clattered on the floor and white hot wax drizzled down my black coat. Great start.
I joined the meditation circle, hoping no one would notice my cheeks burning with embarrassment.
When it was time to get up and begin dancing, I was certain I wouldn’t be able to. The whole experience was new and strange to me. Plus, I still felt self-conscious about my awkward entrance. Then it happened. The moment of truth…
This is crucial if you want to get out of your comfort zone
There is always a moment when we can choose to stay firmly planted within the boundaries of our comfort zone, or we can step outside the lines. At that moment, the mind yells “No, I can’t!”.
This is a moment of choice. And how we respond matters more than anything.
At the ecstatic dance event, I could choose to retract, and believe that I couldn’t dance in this unfamiliar setting. Or I could press the override button in my brain and say, “actually, I CAN do it.”
So, I just did it. I danced. And within minutes I felt at ease. I realized that the others didn’t care about my dance moves. Everyone danced as small children do, alone, but together, vibrating and wriggling like no one’s watching—the perfect introvert dance party!
The Do’s and Don’ts to get out of your comfort zone
There are a few key elements of my story that illustrate the do’s and don’ts of getting out of your comfort zone as an introvert.
Do choose the right activity.
You don’t want to choose an activity that completely obliterates your comfort zone, leaving you shellshocked. For example, the ecstatic dance event was out of my comfort zone, but not completely terrifying, because I do enjoy dancing. Being an INFP, I also have a high degree of openness to new experiences, so I knew I could handle the unexpected.
Don’t go in completely blind.
Knowing what you’re getting into helps to set the mind at ease and prevent embarrassing mishaps, like my noisy entrance at the ecstatic dance event. So, read the itinerary carefully, ask around, and get a decent feel for how things will go down.
Do have a source of comfort.
Just as kids carry a comfort blanket, we grownups need something familiar to cling to as we step into scary new experiences. At the ecstatic dance event, my source of comfort was the fact that I had already met the organizers once before. Just knowing one person can support you as you expand your comfort zone. Likewise, being in a supportive environment as you test out a new skill, like public speaking, will make things easier.
Don’t push yourself too hard.
Be gentle with yourself and know when it’s time to leave or take a break. After all, you need positive associations with a new experience in order to feel motivated to do it again. From the get-go, I gave myself permission to leave the ecstatic dance event whenever I felt like it. I ended up staying for about an hour and a half, but if I hadn’t overcome my discomfort I would’ve left earlier.
Do have a good reason.
Getting out of your comfort zone is, well, uncomfortable. There needs to be some kind of payoff for it to be worth it. Don’t force yourself to give a speech on stage if there’s no practical or soul expanding reason for it.
If your heart says HELL YES, sure, get on stage. If you need to improve your public speaking for work, well then it might be worth the pain. Otherwise, it’s okay to stay cozy and comfortable sometimes.
If you need more help to gain the courage to get out of your comfort zone, get my free Introvert Confidence lessons.
Over to you
Do you struggle to get out of your comfort zone? What’s one thing you wish you could do, but feel too scared to try? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you! ?