Your Social Comfort Zone

Your Social Comfort Zone

What does the term "Social Comfort Zone" actually mean?  Simply put, it is how comfortable (or uncomfortable) we are in social situations.  Are we at ease, comfortable, and able to function without stress?

Most of us feel safe and relaxed in environments in which we are familiar, such as our church, friends' homes, at work, a favorite restaurant, etc.  And even if we are going someplace new or intimidating, if we have our significant other or a friend with us, that also helps us deal with feelings of nervousness or inadequacy.  However, what if we are extremely intimidated by the thought of going someplace new by ourselves?  What does this mean and how can we overcome those feelings?

  • Perhaps we spend too much time in our personal comfort zone and have not challenged ourselves to break out of it.  If this is the case, challenge yourself to go somewhere you have never been, or try to experience something new.  The first step is to recognize that you are "stuck" and then you can take steps to overcome the situation.
  • And you do not have to jump in with both feet if that frightens you.  Take baby steps and make a list of things you have never done, but would like to.  Arrange them in order of least frightening to most frightening for you.
  • It is safe to assume that most people have felt socially awkward at times and wished they were anywhere else.  You are not alone, and it is doubtful that anyone is critiquing you or your presence.
  • Play the "worst case scenario" with yourself.  Imagine the very worst thing that could happen if you step out of your comfort zone.  Oftentimes, just putting words to our fears disarms them, but even if your excursion is not a success, at least you tried.  And it will probably not be as frightening next time.
  • Acknowledge your fear and identify your triggers.  Exactly what is it that you are afraid of?  Are you afraid no one will talk to you, or if they do talk to you, that they will not like you, or find you boring or uninteresting?  Try not to think about what others are thinking of you.  Focus on them instead.  Ask questions and display an interest in their answers.
  • Share something about yourself with others that you are meeting for the first time.  It helps them to get to know you and also opens up avenues for further conversation.
  • Practice deep beathing exercises when you sense you are becoming anxious.
  • Set limits for yourself.  If this is your first social engagement by yourself, set a time or how many people you will speak to before you leave.  This will give you measurable goals that you can gradually increase.
  • Experience mindfulness.  Be present in the moment in what is going on around you and you will be less likely to worry about your own fears or inhibitions.
  • Be yourself.  It doesn't take long for others to realize when someone is trying to impress them by being fake.  For every person who does not take a liking to you, there will undoubtedly be one that likes you just as you are.

Once you begin challenging yourself to try new experiences, it will become easier and easier.  You open yourself up to meeting new people and exploring unique and interesting activities.