…a rebellious rethink of the Comfort Zone concept
We have talked many, many times in this column about moving outside our Comfort Zones. In fact, the last column would have fitted nicely into this category (methinks that the author of this column would be wise to look at the editorial planner, rather than write as if she were flying by the seat of her pants. Oh, well! The things, Dear Reader, that you have to put up with!).
I’m not sure, in all truth, of what my Comfort Zone is anymore. It’s hard to define, when it is, essentially, an invisible thingy-me-bob. It is less of a thing and more of a feeling. Of being at home and comfortable in your own skin. Moving countries sure throws you out of your Comfort Zone – that I am pretty sure of. It can take a few years to get back that comfy feeling again. I think if you were to ask my daughter what my Comfort Zone would be, she would reply: “Mummy’s bed,” which is truly a snuggly, comfortable place. It has an amazing view, a huge pile of books (slightly terrifying, in a health-and-safety type of way, as they could topple at any second), wifi access, and is within yelling distance of the lounge (bless small Swiss apartments!), where there might be someone who could be persuaded to bring me a cup of tea. Definitely my Comfort Zone.
My bed isn’t a bad place; in fact, it is a lovely place (especially after the memory foam topper was added). Yet I have noticed that there is a lot of talk about the Comfort Zone being a bad thing. I have probably, with my “Coaching Cap” on, spoken badly about it. I am pretty sure that I have made lots of references to “getting out of it,” being on the alert for the dreaded “stagnation,” and the like. When, however, that Coaching Cap is off, you will find me curled up, on top of the duvet, with a huge mountain of pillows and Netflix. I can be dynamic, sure, but I have a need to retreat as well. Disturb me at your peril.
Most of us need a safe, snuggly place. Never is this truer than when we have flown the nest of our homelands. We may not be sure what the Zone looked like in our home countries, but we are pretty sure that it doesn’t look like where we are now. Challenges be damned. Where is the duvet? Where is safety? Where is a place where people will stop speaking to me in a funny language and looking at me oddly when my child/ren is/are 0.2 decibels louder than they are supposed to be? We have stepped out of our Comfort Zones and are desperately seeking a way back in!
Half the work, when we do move countries, is finding our Comfort Zones once more. Only when we have become comfortable again are we even going to reconsider the whole “getting outside of your Comfort Zone” malarkey. We know we need to expand, to learn more, to resist stagnation, but could the world just wait a second and hold on? We are still reeling from the last major expansion, and the one before that, and the one before that!
We forget, too, that our children are the biggest buster of Comfort Zones – er – EVER. They are busy pushing their boundaries as they expand into the world, which means, necessarily, pushing our boundaries (and patience/sanity!). Their concept of “what is possible” changes every day. We naturally end up being flung along for the ride. Whether we like it our not, it is the nature of this parenting gig. We can’t stand still for long (or sit on that comfy bed for long!)
We have often heard it said that a child needs a safe and secure home to grow up in. From this place of security, children can find their footing, grow and move out into the world. I really don’t think that this changes as we get older. We need a “Comfort Zone” of our own. A place we can retreat to and rest. Where we can go after a hard day to replenish and regroup for another trip to Migros. There is a lot to be said for moving outside the Comfort Zone, but there is also a lot to say about snuggling down in it for periods of time and just being.
NB: No quotations this week, as I couldn’t find any that say the Comfort Zone is a good thing! I shall have to write rebelliously instead! Dear Reader, I’m sure that normal service will resume next issue!
By Tammy Furey
Tammy eases the expat parenting experience through coaching and teaching throughout Switzerland. She also writes, blogs, gives talks, does the washing, doesn’t hoover enough, and parents Missy M, her daughter! Find out more at www.fureycoaching.com.
Illustration by Laura Munteanu
Laura has studied journalism and advertising, and has worked as a journalist and an illustrator. She has illustrated for magazines, websites, charities and diverse campaigns. She lives in Zurich with her husband and ten-year-old daughter.