I have a very strong personal zone around me. Come too close and I move…I try not to, but I do!!! Come in for an impromptu hug and I stiffen, or at least I used to. It takes a lot of work to relax and be aware of the other person…and maybe even of their feelings. Where do these comfort zones come from? Do we learn them from our families? Are they inherited? Have we been injured and rebuffed so many times that we are closing ourselves off as self preservation?
It’s actually good to stretch our own comfort levels at times, otherwise they become walls. And then those walls are really difficult to take down. We become less and less aware of them, and eventually we become someone that others avoid. It is like a unused muscle. It needs to be stretched as part of the growth process. It can hurt and make us uncomfortable, but after we try it there is a sense of relief and euphoria. We then feel more flexible and willing to try again.
The first step is to acknowledge that you might have a few issues with this. (I know I do). Then start watching for an opportunity to try something new. Let someone sit too close to you. Let go and enjoy the hug that someone wants to give you. Be willing to have a conversation that stretches your boundaries a little. Be vulnerable and approachable.
You might be surprised who you have in your life next year this time. People are fascinating! Get to know some of them. Find some new friends. Try new things. Be willing to stretch your comfort zone!