Are You A "Comfort Zone Addict"?
Back when I used to write for the major paper here in Nashville, a rule of thumb when it came to sourcing was Wikipedia was an absolute no-no. There are a billion reasons why, but when it comes to what a clear and concise definition of comfort zone is, I think it breaks it all down pretty well. According to Wikipedia, a comfort zone is "a psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person and they are at ease and in control of their environment". On the surface, that sounds pretty good right? What's wrong with wanting to be in familiar surroundings that put you at ease and make you feel like you are in control? Nothing. To a point.
Stuff starts to get weird and unhealthy when what's familiar—whether it's a person, place, thing or idea—is no longer serving you, when "being at ease" is synonymous with being stagnant and, you're so in control that you won't allow life to teach you anything or introduce you to something new. When your world gets to this point and place, you are well on your way to becoming a comfort zone addict—someone who habitually remains in a space that keeps them from flourishing and thriving.
And that's what we're going to explore today; eight signs that you very well could be addicted to your comfort zone and why you should go cold turkey and stop if you are. A wise person once said that, "Great things never come from comfort zones." When it comes to living one's best life, I would definitely have to agree. Are you ready to know for sure if you are too comfortable in your comfort zone?
Your Daily Routine Resembles a Hamster Wheel
Don't get me wrong. A lot of people could stand to have more of a daily routine because the benefits of doing so are endless. Daily routines can help to keep you organized. Daily routines can help you to manage your time better. Daily routines can hold you accountable to getting things done. Daily routines are necessary; very much so.
But as I share, as often as I can, Aristotle once said, "The excess of a virtue is a vice." In other words, anything that lacks balance can end up being totally unhealthy—or, at the very least, counterproductive—for us. When it comes to daily routines, if they are so rigid and regimented that you don't leave room for trying something new or even taking time off when your mind or body says that you need it, well, you could find yourself being more busy than productive.
Remember, the hamster spends a lot of time running around in that wheel. At the same time, at the end of the day, he's not really getting anywhere. Moral to the story is, if your daily routine doesn't ultimately help you to make great progress, you need to switch things up because it's actually working more against than for you than you think.
Risk Is the Ultimate Four-Letter Cuss Word to You
Some people hate to take risks. To a certain extent, I can see why. One definition of risk is "exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance" and who wants to be here doing stuff that is considered dangerous? However, another definition is "to venture upon; take or run the chance of" and yes, that is always worth, at least the consideration of doing. The key is to do your best to take risks that are wise and will serve you well.
How can you know for sure what those are? Ironically, that's where the risky part comes in. But what I will say is prayer, meditation, common sense and creating short- and long-term goals can help immensely. For instance, when I decided, 20 years ago this year, to write full-time, believe me when I say that it was quite the risk; especially financially. But before I did it, I spent time making connections, building up a portfolio, creating a personal mission statement (so I could be clear on what niche I would serve best in) and I disciplined myself to write daily (to the point now that sometimes I am able to pen 10,000-15,000 words on a daily basis, if needed). I didn't just up and decide "I'm a writer" and throw all caution to the wind; I prepared to become one. No one said that taking risks don't come without preparation. Only foolish people believe otherwise.
Best-selling author, Paulo Coelho once said, "If it's still on your mind, it's worth taking the risk." From an overall standpoint, I agree because, if something won't seem to let you go, that means it is something that is unresolved (and needs to be addressed) on some level in your life. Just make sure that you take some time out to process why it weighs so heavily on your mind. For example, if your ex keeps taking up space in your head and heart and he mistreated you, I wouldn't say that you should "take a risk" and try and get back with him. What you might want to do, though, is "take a risk" and see a therapist, counselor or relationship coach (even if it makes you uncomfortable, at first) or, take a risk and date someone who isn't your "typical type" (check out "Should You Consider Dating Someone You're Not Attracted To?").
Some people treat the word "risk" like it's the ultimate cuss word because they automatically think if something makes them uncomfortable, they shouldn't do it. The bigger focus should be if the risk is going to result in self-harm in some way. A lot of things that make us uneasy won't kill us; they will simply encourage us to step out from our usual norm. That's exactly what a "wise risk" does and that's almost always a good thing.
You Think Peace Means Always Being Comfortable
Let's touch on that uncomfortable thing a bit more. I know some people who are always complaining about how unfulfilled they are, but still, they won't make any real changes in their life. When I inquire why, some of them say that even though they aren't exactly "thrilled" every day with how their life is going, things are peaceful, so why should they rock the boat? Listen, silence is one thing. Peaceful is something else. If you've read enough of my articles on the site, you know that I totally adore the Hebrew language (because it's the original language of the Bible) and the Hebrew word for peace is "shalom". Shalom ultimately breaks down into being whole and complete (among a few other things).
Keeping that in mind, say that you're currently working at a job that pays you well. Problem is, it doesn't really challenge you, there's no room for promotion, and you don't feel like your strengths are being utilized. Sure, your bills are getting paid on time (and that's certainly a valid point), but that doesn't change the fact that you almost feel like a dead woman walking on a daily basis. Sis, that's not peace. If where you spend 6-10 hours of your time each day isn't helping to make you feel more whole and at peace with your life, you are actually in a state of anti-peace. It's time to do something different. Sooner than later, too.
If It’s Not Already Been Done Before, You Talk Yourself Out of Doing It
Let's bring Scripture into this conversation for just a moment, shall we? If you look at Genesis 1:1(NKJV), the Bible says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Our first introduction to God is Him being a creator. To create is "to cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes". When you read that, what's the word that immediately jumped out at you? For me, it was "unique". To create is to do something that is unique. Something that is truly unique is something that exists only as one, something that is totally incomparable and, something that is unusual.
I dig creatives. Not just people who profess they are one, but those whose life stories and inventions reveal that they truly are creative beings. They're the ones who didn't feel like they needed to follow a blueprint or do what someone else has already done in order to make things happen. They are the individuals who come up with an idea or concept that has people looking at them like, "Ninja, are you crazy?!" A risk-taker responds to that question with a grin and an up-and-down head nod. A comfort zone addict takes that as I sign that they shouldn't step out. To them, if other people don't "get it", it shouldn't be done.
If you tend to fall into Category B more than you'd care to admit, here's something to keep in mind.
The ideas that come to your mind that you can't really compare to something else, 8 times out of 10, those are the ones that you should consider to be the truly creative ones. And since your Creator does unique things (like creating you, for example), it is actually an act of honor and worship to God to give it a shot. Just think if the Spirit rethought making you because you hadn't already existed before. Just think about how much the world would've missed out because of it. Create, sis. If you don't do anything else in this life, make sure that you do that!
You Don’t Fully Utilize Your Gifts and Talents
Listen, anything you're doing (on the professional tip) that is not encouraging you to make the absolute most of your God-given gifts and talents is wasting your time. Wasting? Yes, because waste means "to consume, spend, or employ uselessly or without adequate return". The happiest and most self-satisfied people I know aren't the wealthiest. They are the ones who get to get up, each and every day, and do what they love—what they are good at, what makes them feel like they aren't even really working (minus the required self-discipline, of course).
By no means am I saying that if you realize you aren't using your gifts and talents that you should quit your job today (you also can't use them if you don't have a place to live after getting evicted for not paying your bills). What I am saying is that, at the very least, you should ponder over what you can do that will help you to tap more into the things that you were naturally born with. A lot of people don't realize that comfort can be a real waste. Please don't be one of them.
Even If You’ve Got a Bucket List, Nothing Is Checked Off on It
It's my humble opinion that everyone, even kids, should have a bucket list. They help to give our life (more) meaning and direction. They hold us accountable to have fun and try out new things. They are a great way to create wonderful memories. They are one way to set short- and long-term goals. They teach us things about ourselves, others and the world around us as a whole. They also help to make sure that we aren't stagnant; that we keep moving forward.
I once read a study that stated 95 percent of people have bucket lists. It also said that 66 percent said they intended to check one thing off a year. A year? With some of my clients, every time their birthday rolls around, we jot down their age and then come up with as many things as their age is to do before their next birthday rolls around. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us. One way to make life feel bigger and even better is to create a bucket list and commit to knocking at least 10 things off of it on an annual basis (because who said that you can't edit or add to your list as time moves on?).
You Are Mad Impatient
An author by the name of Laura Teresa Marquez provided some great fortune-cookie-and-beyond insight when she said, "When we get impatient because something is taking too long, we should remember that Life waits on us a thousand times more than we wait on." To me, this means that life is waiting on us to line up with the plans that it already has for us than we're waiting on life to reveal them. This quote definitely came to mind while I re-watched KevOnStage's documentary,A Calculated Risk. This youth pastor-turned-comedian-turned-9-to-5 person-turned-self-made man has quite a wonderful yet super-sacrificial story about how he took risks in order to live out his dreams. If you know anything about Kev, you can vouch for the fact that while he's not an overnight success, years later (not 2-3 either; several) stuff is really starting to pay off—BIG TIME.
A lot of people who are comfort zone addicts, they've already got all that they need to thrive in their own lane too. But if they don't see things that they attempt manifest in one year or less, they tend to quit. Unlike with Kev's journey, what that ends up doing them is costing them—BIG TIME. Stepping outside of one's comfort zone requires waiting, delays and disappointments. Your being willing to push through all of that for the greater goal is what will make it well worth your while. It's what some of the best success stories are made up of as well.
You’re Bored. Most of the Time.
"Bored" is a great word. The reason why I say that is because it's got a ton of different meanings, and all of them can alert you to whether or not you're living your life as "BIG" as you should be.
What are some clear indications that you are currently bored with the way your life is going (or not going)? You complain a lot. You always need somebody or something to keep you entertained. You tend to have many vices. You rarely feel inspired to get out of bed in the mornings. You wrestle with the green-eyed monster (envy). You're irrationally competitive with other people. You're critical—including super self-critical. I could go on and on, chile, but it all basically boils down to being weary with your life…because you're existing more than you're actually LIVING it.
Author Charles F. Glassman once said, "Even the smallest changes in our daily routine can create incredible ripple effects that expand our vision of what is possible." If you just read all of this and recognized that you are way more stuck in your comfort zone than you ever thought, the good news is that today you can make some real and significant changes. Try something new. Plan to do something that will help your strengths to shine through. Stop ignoring that voice in your head that keeps telling you to make that phone call, send that email or start that company.
Comfort zones may be comfortable but don't confuse it with stagnation. Life is meant to be lived to the fullest. And that oftentimes requires breaking totally out of your comfort zone(s).
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masterdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masterdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masterdating All About?
Masterdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masterdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masterdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masterdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masterdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masterdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masterdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masterdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masterdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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