Stretching our Comfort Zone’s Limit

Sometimes our fear of the known can interfere with where and how we might travel. We all intuitively know when our comfort zone boundaries have reached their limit. There is a shift in energies that makes us feel like we are waiving over a bottomless pit or we doubt the legitimacy of our next move or words. Self-doubt can creep up on us almost instantaneously.

My comfort zone with steep rocks is often stretched because of my love of hiking and great views.

My comfort zone with steep rocks is often stretched because of my love of hiking and great views.

However, most often, when this void is conquered, our boundaries have extended and we now have the tools and skills to embrace a similar moment.

During an extended journey, there are ample opportunities to extend our boundaries and being adaptable to change is a way to cope with this. Relaxing about what might happen is easier said than done for some people though.

If we put ourselves into challenging situations without feeling as though we have successfully dealt with the previous episodes, we begin to move to a place of fear and may find ourselves avoiding change and limiting our experiences. Therefore, it is vital to reflect on our emotions and levels of success and remind ourselves to respond from a place of love and not fear.

Sometimes standards aren't what they are back home and you have to decided if they're good enough for you.

Sometimes standards aren’t what they are back home and you have to decided if they’re good enough for you.

It comes down to attitude. Some people will say that we are either born with wanderlust or not. I would argue that it is probably ‘learned fear’ that puts doubt in our ability to cope with travel or not. Some people prefer the pleasure of home and the predictability of their comfort zone. That’s okay, but they might find themselves filled with regret one day. I believe the human will is driven by discovery and new wonders. However, fear campaigns sell. The media is full of them. So the question is ‘how do we adjust our attitude so we put fear in its rightful place and remain open to the infinite possibilities that are before us?’

Firstly, we need to acknowledge our individual boundaries and then agree to challenge them. Putting ourselves too far out could cause discomfort and regret. Not putting ourselves out there, will also cause discomfort and regret. So we need a balance. If we’re trying something new and a bit nerve racking that we’re not sure about, we need to make sure there are some creature comforts on hand. Familiar food, sleeping arrangements and friends will help keep the energies around us stabilised, enabling us to remain positive.

Knowing your boundaries helps you from feeling lost.

Knowing your boundaries helps you from feeling lost.

Sometimes everything around is unfamiliar and a bit daunting, therefore, it’s a great idea to keep things at a smaller scale when starting out alone.

Before I went on my year long, (that’s turned into five years long), journey I would go on holiday with everything booked. Transport, accommodation, tours, etc. would already be organised for my two-six week holiday. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do this for a whole year and began to wonder how I would handle the uncertainty. I still didn’t know what I wanted to do for the whole year because I wanted plans to unfold. I knew that arriving in a place without plans and bookings would stretch my comfort zone to the limit and had the possibility of creating doubt and fear. So I practised before I went. I wanted to test the Universe’s ability to look after things as well as I believed it could. Obviously, I wasn’t yet completely convinced of this trust.

I booked flights for two weeks away to another country that I was familiar with and English was spoken. I had a basic plan to visit places I hadn’t been before then I booked things on arrival – only a few days in advance. Then I remained open to the type of experience I would have. My only expectation became, ‘Universe, show me a good time.’

Sometimes the energy of a group can help you get through some challenging moments.

Sometimes the energy of a group can help you get through some challenging moments.

What happened amazed me. People gravitated to me who had similar types of interests – sightseeing and finding unique and fascinating natural phenomenon and we shared ideas and travel tips along with the expenses of car hire. They asked questions that I was thinking and I made new friends.

What I learned about myself and the situation was this – I like to know at least where I’m spending my first night, so will book this in advance. I like to know how I’m leaving a bus terminal or airport and what costs are involved to reach my accommodation. I like to have an idea of at least three things that I want to do in the area. This helps me to enjoy the experience. I also don’t like to go out on my own at night unless it is to the hostel bar or a place close by. I like to have some basic groceries with me in case there isn’t a suitable shop nearby. So these are the fundamentals that I personally put in place so I can then take opportunities as they arise that still challenge my comfort zone, but don’t cause unnecessary anxiety.

There are too many wonderful places to explore to let fear get in the way of your dreams to travel. Learn to manage those fears on practice runs.

There are too many wonderful places to explore to let fear get in the way of your dreams to travel. Learn to manage those fears on practice runs.

Monitoring my spending is a major part of my psyche and I know this. To lessen the impact this has on my thinking and decisions about what I do, I make those plans that I’ve mentioned above so I don’t end up spending beyond my budget and I avoid putting myself in a position of fear. I also remind myself continuously about how rich and lucky I am to be travelling. Occasionally, I can’t do so much planning due to the lack of internet or whatever, but because it is kept to being an infrequent happening, I manage the stress of being out of my comfort zone.

Finding out about our true selves and the intricate way we operate is what happens through travel. Each of us will have certain peculiarities that are best acknowledged and planned for – with the occasional avoidance to stretch ourselves. Ultimately we need to learn to relax about these, but in the meantime, by adhering to some self-governed guidelines, we will avoid moments of self-doubt that lead to uncertainty and home sickness. Don’t forget – it’s about finding the joy in life – know what keeps you happy so your journey is as rewarding as it deserves to be.