Discover why your comfort zone is your unhealthy zone. Learn to spot the signs of unhealthy coping mechanisms at work and what you should do about it. Listen to Rod Serling’s warning.
Comfort is splendid and enjoyable. Much of our modern conveniences aim at making us comfortable by selling us stuff. And, for some personality types, this is their life mission.
But too much of a good thing always has unforeseen complications. Our personal growth stops. What’s worse, we get comfortable in unhealthy situations. We get comfortable when we accept the position. Sometimes we mistake comfort for the unhealthy twilight zone.
“This highway leads to the shadowy tip of reality: you’re on a through route to the land of the different, the bizarre, the unexplainable…Go as far as you like on this road. Its limits are only those of mind itself. Ladies and Gentlemen, you’re entering the wondrous dimension of imagination. . . Next stop The Twilight Zone.” ― Rod Serling
Why Your Comfort Zone is Unhealthy
The weird thing is that just because we are comfortable doesn’t mean it is good for us. This “zone of comfort” is a slippery slope leading to unhealthy thinking. The Ego naturally disintegrates into harmful thought patterns when we are complacent. Negative, toxic thinking becomes an undesirable behavior. It’s the spawning ground for suicidal ideas, revenge, and many other negative thought patterns. We all agree this thinking is unhealthy.
Learn how to spot the signs of your comfort and how to move beyond it. Our comfort zone is a dead zone. It’s a comfort twilight zone where we’re not living; it’s just existing. Therefore, it’s essential to learn the signs.
Signs of Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
1. Conformity ― Surrendering to the Situation
“The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity.” ― Rollo May
In this sense, surrendering means giving up hope. A life without hope makes us conform and fit in. It’s not better; it’s just easier. So, we live a twilight zone existence. As a result, we learn to get by.
Just because we are comfortable doesn’t mean we are happy. We accept a situation even though it is unhealthy or painful. The similarity brings a level of comfort. That’s because we fear the unknown more than the pain, and that’s why we conform to the situation. That’s why it’s number one on the list, and it’s one of the most prevalent unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Complacency leads to conformity because it is familiar and comfortable. Conformity feels safe, but it’s a trap. It wastes our most valuable resource, our time. Conformity and complacency are easy to settle into; that’s why your comfort zone is your unhealthy zone.
The Antidote for Complacency
The antidote is to move from conformity to individuality. First, take an honest assessment of your situation. Brainstorm. What are all the options? List as many options as you can. Use your imagination. It doesn’t matter how crazy the idea is. After brainstorming, go back and find those options, which are things you can do.
Next, change something in your life that expresses the real you. It could be as simple as wearing two different socks. Or perhaps change the route to and from work. Find something that defines the real you.
The most powerful thing you can do is take a vow to live a courageous life. If you follow this proclamation, it will bring opportunities that will positively impact you and the world.
2. Weary and Defeated ― Self-Doubt
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” — Maya Angelou
We become weary for several reasons. Weariness is on a downward spiral. This downward trend often starts with complacency. As a result, our lives become a never-ending series of weary tasks, and eventually, we doubt everything.
We develop self-doubts about our skills and eventually our worthiness. The attack on our self-worth blinds us to this unhealthy cycle. When this happens, we don’t see a way to reverse this trend. The most significant loss is not seeing the lesson this situation can provide because it’s a wake-up call prompting us to change direction. If we miss this wake-up call, we continue the downward trend towards depression.
Despite these negative feelings of defeat, it becomes comfortable. That’s because it is familiar. Familiarity makes failure comfortable. Just because it’s unhealthy doesn’t mean it isn’t a place of comfort for our Ego. It satisfies the Ego no matter the situation, as long as it is in control. That’s why your comfort zone can become an unhealthy place to live.
When we are weary and defeated, we take on the victim mentality, which results in a downward spiral to more unhealthy thinking.
The Antidote for Weariness and Defeat
The key is to break the cycle. Realize how important it is not to lose hope. Remember to focus on the lessons of failure, but move on; this takes courage. That’s because weariness is addictive. It becomes your comfort zone, even if it is unhealthy.
Courage is a mixture of action, vulnerability, and risk. It takes personal courage because it makes us vulnerable emotionally. It is risky too.
3. The Unhealthy Zone of Boredom ― Lack of Desire
“Boredom: the desire for desires.” ― Leo Tolstoy
We all experience boredom from time to time. However, when this becomes a habitual behavior pattern, it’s probably a waste of time. Routines are proper for some things like exercise, going to bed, study time, etc. However, some patterns are symptoms of boredom, like spending several hours scrolling social media.
When the mind keeps busy with mindless activity, this becomes boring. If this mindless activity is our work, which provides our income, we must become more mindful. Otherwise, the lack of desire will affect our attitude and abilities.
The Antidote for Chronic Boredom
Most people think doing more is the best way to break the habit of boredom, but this isn’t true. What works better to break boredom is meditation. That’s right. Instead of more activity, we introduce silence. That’s because effective meditation disengages the Ego and personality. These are the culprits behind the mindset of boredom.
This comfort zone will burn up a lot of time. And, rather than feeling guilty, you may have a sense of accomplishment or satisfaction. When you realize the time and effort investment, you’ll see an unhealthy pattern that needs to change.
The fact is, it’s not things you do or the situation which makes us bored. It’s what we experience when our personality is in control, and this is mind-numbing. If you don’t know how to meditate, there’s a link above to a simple two-step method anyone can use. So, the next time you feel bored, meditate for even three minutes. Three minutes of silence refreshes the mind and body.
4. Easily Distracted ― Acting like a Trout
“Focus helps you do something. Distraction makes you avoid doing anything.” ― Mani S. Sivasubramanian
Our modern culture narrative is a product of groupthink manipulation. The advertising industry grew out of this misuse of emotional triggers. As a result, there’s no doubt we are all programmed to act like trout. No one escapes the critical mass of advertising. We go after anything that is bright and shiny or which looks tasty. Being easily distracted is one of the unhealthy coping mechanisms that’s easy to spot but hard to correct.
All media communications contain the potential to become an unhealthy distraction. For instance, you can spend mindless hours engaging in TV, video games, and the internet. Unfortunately, even people can become distractions. It’s possible to waste hours just bouncing from one thing to another. It’s merely time-consuming but not satisfying. Nor does it bring lasting happiness. Afterward, there is always a feeling of guilt. You realize this is why your comfort zone is just a waste of your precious time.
The Antidote for the Easily Distracted
The first thing we need to do is admit we have a problem. Next, cut the use of those things which distract us. If you use people as a distraction, this is a bigger problem. In that case, seek professional help.
Realize the root of this is patterns of thought. We can break these patterns with some time and work. Some things that help are working to improve memory. Mnemonic tools are vivid stories that combine unusual elements and the data we need to remember. Again, meditation is an effective antidote.
5. Apathy ― Justifying Inaction
“The inactive must justify their sloth by picking nits with those making an attempt.” ― Dave Eggers
Apathy takes inaction to a whole different level. Apathy is an excuse to explain away and justify your inaction. This one often runs along with complacency. You convince yourself it’s okay to ignore your conscience, which is how rational people make poor decisions.
We know the right thing to do. But it means going against our cultural narrative. And if we do this, it will move us out of our comfort zone. We must fight against falling back into old thought patterns to justify our inaction. Apathy is also more than procrastination. It’s a lack of interest.
When you lose interest, you lose touch with our hearth and creative center. Losing touch with your heart makes life monotonous. Even if you see what’s going on and know what you should do, you ignore it. This situation is happening to more and more people. That’s because there isn’t just one thing wrong with the cultural narrative. Many things need improvement in our society.
The Antidote For Apathy
Apathy is probably the most challenging comfort zone to conquer. You don’t just snap out of indifference. Because apathy is like a vine, it gets stronger the longer it grows. So, the longer the vines are in place, the harder they are to remove. It will take time to overcome this mindset. But learning to cultivate a beginner’s perspective can help overcome this inertia.
The way out is with some serious inner work. Start by reading on the subject. Carl Jung shows us how our childhood holds the key to fulfillment as adults. Mindfulness meditation, both seated and moving forms, is also great for elevating your attitude.
6. Lack of Goals ― No Goals, You’ll Never Fail
“It’s a lack of clarity that creates chaos and frustration. Those emotions are poison to any living goal.” ―
Life without goals is the mantra of the comfort zone. If you have no plans and you’ll never fail, this is perhaps the most insidious trap of all. Objectives help us avoid many other twilight zone traps, and it’s probably the easiest one to make headway.
The Antidote for Lack of Goals
Start with small goals. Put them in writing, even if it’s just a reminder on your smartphone. Success builds momentum. Once you can complete small things, then you make the goal larger. You can do this!
We set boundaries and limitations because it’s comfortable. However, nothing grows in this comfort zone. Our culture reinforces this idea to control us. So, goals are a way of combating this message. The antidote is to set simple incremental goals. Above all, always make SMART goals.
Smart is an acronym to remind us of the best way to set goals. It’s a part of building good habits.
Smart goals are:
- Realistic and
- Time-sensitive (a particular measure of time)
Here are some ideas for setting simple goals
- Make the bed today.
- Smile and say something positive to the first person you see.
- Exercise this afternoon when you get home from work.
- Set a one-hour social media blackout today.
- Find one thing to give away.
- Practice saying “thank you” instead of saying “I’m sorry.” For instance, if you are late for a meeting, instead of saying, “I’m sorry I’m late.” In place, say, “thank you for waiting for me.”
7. Unfulfilled Pleasure-Seeking
“Seek not greater wealth, but simpler pleasure; not higher fortune, but deeper felicity.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
Some personality types are more susceptible to this lifestyle, like the Enneagram type seven. They aren’t the only ones who can turn to an adrenalin rush to cover up what’s going on. Yes, there is excitement. If there isn’t anything exciting to do, they slip quickly into depression.
However, activities and adventures are a way to cover up; they are unhappy. It’s all wrapped up in the motives for being active. The reasons differ between having fun and needing to do it. So, if the motivation is to have fun, that’s good. But, if we need to engage in thrill-seeking activity to avoid facing something, that’s unhealthy.
Thrill-seekers are always trying new things. If skydiving becomes dull, they move up to wing-surfer flying. When that isn’t enough, they find something higher and more dangerous. They may set world records, but the victory is hollow. These achievements do not lead to fulfillment. Does this sound familiar?
Thrill-seeking may not seem like a comforting place, but being scared releases adrenalin that makes you high. It’s why people like scary movies and rollercoasters. Fear is an adrenalin rush. So, you aren’t satisfied. You are addicted to the adrenalin rush. Once you start down the road of excitement, you’ll always be looking for the next thing. Unfulfilled pleasure-seeking is one of the significant drivers of commercialism. So, that’s why your comfort zone becomes less and less fulfilling.
The Antidote for Unfilled Pleasure-Seeking
The Enneagram Personality Profile is the best tool to help you understand your personality and instinct. This mental tool is key to “serious inner work.” And this tool will show you the connections between thoughts and personality. It can even show you the links between your desires and cultural programming.
By all means, learn about the triggers for your personality and instincts. Then, attend an Enneagram workshop where they help you drill down to the genuine answers. Most competent teachers use the repeating question model to do this. This tool will show you what fears you need to face.
“It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.” ― Roy T. Bennett
Does one or more of the above situations resonate with you? So your zone of comfort is probably also your unhealthy zone because you’ve become accustomed to unhealthy coping mechanisms. It may seem like a beautiful place, even though it takes up a great deal of time. It prevents you from facing the things you need to deal with, so you can grow. Additionally, building relationships on healthy spiritual energy rather than superficial and temporary conditions will bring long-lasting enjoyment.
“You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into… the Twilight Zone.” ― Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone: Complete Stories
Are you interested in spiritual exploration? Check out the blended learning process at the core of our teaching process. We offer this curriculum through our individually tailored virtual learning academy and our traditional face-to-face sessions. It reflects what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey (1). Our learning options include both face-to-face and virtual learning sessions.
(1) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia