Comfort, stretch and panic zones
When you are in our comfort zone you are happy (generally), you know what is expected of you, you know how to act and what to say. You feel comfortable (hence the name), you are not stressed, anxious or angry, you feel in control and life ticks along nicely.
When you are in our stretch zone you begin to feel uncomfortable. you are challenged, you may not know what is expected of you, what to say or how to act. You feel some stress and anxiety and sometimes a bit of a loss of control. This, I learnt yesterday, is the best state to be in to learn. It challenges you and motivates you to grow, change and learn. It isn’t the most enjoyable state to be in but has the most benefits.
The Panic zone is where you do just that, you panic, you feel overwhelmed, completely out of control. Your stress, anxiety and anger is high and you shut down, You retreat into yourselves. Unsurprisingly this is the worst zone to be in for learning, changing and growing. Sound familiar?
When you have counselling, you can spend time in all 3 zones but the best place to be, if you want to change, is in your stretch zone. Counselling should challenge you, it should give you pause to think about the things in your life you like and don’t like and it should, sometimes, stir things up. This is where the change happens, this is where you grow. I am not saying it should be or will be like this in every session but if you truly want to change, to really find new ways of being, you need to push yourself a bit, to move out of what is comfortable, safe and familiar and move tentatively into the uncomfortable, unknown and the places you may not want to be in too much.
I am not saying that when in counselling you should force yourself to right away look at all the things you have been avoiding or all the things that upset you. I think there is a fine line between the edge of the stretch and the panic zone so maybe it is about finding out where your edge is, knowing and understanding what pushes you into the panic zone and how to deal with it when you tip into it. Once you discover this you can push yourself to grow and change by staying safely inside the stretch zone when you want to, retreating to the comfort zone when you need to. I think this is the way to get the best out of your counselling.
What challenges you?
How do you know when you have tipped into the panic zone? What can you do to bring yourself back into your comfort zone?