Trauma-Informed Organization: Comfort Zones

Posted on October 31, 2022

What does it mean to be in your comfort zone? It means to stick with the things you know: the same routine, people, work, etc. If you stay in your comfort zone, then you maintain predictability in various aspects of your life. There are few or no risks to things not going to plan. There is also no challenge. To stay in our comfort zone is to forgo the challenges necessary for us to grow.

The term “comfort zone” was coined by Judith Bardwick in her work Danger in the Comfort Zone (1991):

“The comfort zone is a behavioral state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviors to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk.”

What do we tell ourselves to justify staying in our comfort zone?

  • “I’m not good at…”
  • “This is the way things have always been.”
  • “No one will listen to me anyway.”
  • “That’s above my pay grade.”
  • “I’ve already tried… and it didn’t work.”

What feelings might you have if you stay in your comfort zone?

  • Apathy
  • Boredom
  • Fear
  • Resignation

What can you gain by leaving your comfort zone?

  • Learning something new
  • Challenging yourself
  • Feeling accomplished
  • Trailblazing for others
  • Learning how to use your voice
  • Facing the unknown becomes less scary

What are small, trauma-informed ways to practice stepping outside your comfort zone?

  • Ask a peer how you can support them
  • Carve just five minutes out of your day for meditation
  • Provide an honest answer when someone asks “How are you?”
  • Identify one person you can go to if you need support
  • Pay attention to how you listen to someone when they’re having a conversation with you
  • Check your assumptions and biases
  • Ask someone what they mean by a comment or action, rather than telling yourself what they meant

This month’s resource is for the Black Hills and is a great option if you’re interested in trying something new:

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