Don’t you just love all the different and pretty hair elastics that are available these days? Anyone with hair long enough always carries at least one hair elastic just in case they need to tie it up if it gets too hot, windy or annoying. My favourites are the ones I can wear on my wrist that are adorned with little pieces of jewelry which make them look almost like a bracelet as well as pretty in your hair. But what does hair elastic have to do with stretching your comfort zone?
Let me explain by taking you through the different phases of a hair elastic. When I first purchase a new elastic it’s momentarily exciting because it’s new but it usually is also very uncomfortable. It’s too tight around my wrist, feels restrictive and I am blatantly aware it’s there, not to mention it doesn’t fit my hair thickness and is difficult to use. I have the option of tying it only two times and it being too loose or three times (with difficulty) and it pulling on my hair and potentially giving me a headache.
I generally tend to choose to stretch it to three times and my hair stays put and when I take the elastic off it bounces straight back to its original shape. After using it for a while though, and stretching it regularly the same way, it begins to feel much more comfortable. It fits around my wrist perfectly and I can hardly tell it’s there. It’s easy to use for my hair thickness. One, two, three times over and it’s done. I enjoy tying my hair up because it’s easy to do and I can leave it up for longer without it giving me a headache.
But then, as time goes on and the elastic gets stretched again and again the hair elastic becomes over stretched and although it still functions, it sags on my wrist and doesn’t quite hold my hair firmly enough anymore. If I tie it three times, it’s too loose but four is too tight. It has become restrictive and uncomfortable again.
So what does hair elastic have to do with stretching your comfort zone?
Facing fears and stretching your comfort zone, has a similar life cycle to a hair elastic.
In the beginning, when you first face a fear and stretch your comfort zone for the first time, there are moments of excitement but it’s also very uncomfortable. It can feel restrictive like you can’t breathe and some people even experience a tightness in their chest. It nearly always feels awkward, and just doesn’t feel natural at all to you. Often afterward a lot of people tend to bounce back to how they were before facing the fear.
This is why it is so important to continue to face that fear again and again. Each time you bounce back from the experience your comfort zone will have been stretched that little bit further until eventually after you’ve faced that fear a few more times, it becomes your new comfort zone. It feels comfortable for you to take the action that scared you so much previously. It feels like part of who you are and this is when you know you have mastered your fear.
What happens next though is you start to become too comfortable because you are no longer stretching yourself. What scared you before now is easy for you to do and there is nothing challenging you to grow further. This is because, part of being human is to constantly be learning, growing and evolving. You’ll notice a niggling within, a feeling of uncomfortableness. It’s time to face another fear and stretch your comfort zone again.
We all have an infinite number of fears we can face because as you expand by stretching your comfort zone you are exposed to new situations and experiences where fear can show up. By understanding how your comfort zone works you can ensure you don’t become overstretched, uncomfortable and complacent and instead are continually evolving by facing the fears that show up for you.