People are always telling introverts to get out of our comfort zone.

It can be annoying because it implies that we are not, in fact, already getting out of our comfort zone all the time. Because here’s the thing.

Our “comfort zone” is simply what is familiar and natural. It is an activity that our lizard brain has coded as safe. 

For some, getting out of their comfort zone means taking an extreme leap into activities that terrify them.

For example, my friend Joze Piranian has stutter and used to  be terrified of speaking. Every word was a struggle, every drawn-out sentence a source of shame.

But then he started challenging himself to speak to strangers. Everyday, he’d spend an hour just talking to random people on the street.

Now he’s a professional speaker and comedian, with an inspiring TedX talk

Now, this is an example of getting out of one’s comfort zone in an EXTREME way.

And it’s what people often have in mind when they tell us innies to get out of our comfort zone.

But I see things differently. 

As a highly sensitive introvert, I know that discomfort can be found in unexpected activities, like speaking up in group conversations, or being in an unfamiliar social situation.

Sometimes, getting out of our comfort zone doesn’t involve socializing at all. Take my experience the other day, for example.

This was awkward

I went to a hot yoga class at a studio I’d never been to.

I normally do yoga by myself (just like I do about a 1000 other things ;), so I felt quite out of sorts when I first arrived.

I was like a bull in, well, a yoga class. 

I kept forgetting things, like the blocks and my water bottle, and I’d have to leave the room and come back, as others lay peacefully in corpse pose waiting for class to begin.

I also put my mat in the wrong place and someone had to tell me to move it.

To top it off, I’m not very good at following verbal instructions (perhaps because I’m often daydreaming when they’re given).

So, when the teacher called out poses I didn’t know, I had to look around in confusion.

THAT was uncomfortable. Not because I was getting on stage or talking to strangers, but because I was doing something new in an environment that was unfamiliar to me.

As introverts, when we find ourselves in these kinds of uncomfortable situations it’s crucial to do two things:

1. Be gentle with yourself.

Your critical mind will want to kick into gear and say unkind things to you. Tell it to please kindly shut up, because you’re doing your best.

2. Acknowledge your efforts.

Remind yourself that you are indeed getting out of your comfort zone and this deserves a mental high five. 

Life is all about the little things. Those small moments of discomfort can open new doors.

As an introvert coach who has worked with 1000+ students and private clients, I’ve developed my own methods for helping introverts to move past their fears and find confidence, love, and purpose.

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Remember, all forms of change create discomfort. You’re doing the best that you can and you are changing. Give yourself credit for the steps you’re taking.