You may hear people from time to time telling you to get out of your comfort zone, but what is a comfort zone? It is intuitive to think of it as a place where we feel secure and comfortable. For example, after getting a job that can barely secure you from starving, you stick to it and lose your passion to climb up the career ladder, albeit it doesn’t give you any sense of achievement. However, things are far from that simple considering the situation of Brooks Hatlen.
In The Shawshank Redemption, he has been put behind the bar for around 50 years. When learning the news that he is going to be released, all he feels is anything but exhilarating. He then finds a way to stay in prison — killing someone; after the clock ticks to the time he can be discharged from jail, he commits suicide to duck out of fear of leaving the cage.
What he says in the movie is, “These walls are funny. First, you hate ’em; then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, you get, so you depend on them. That’s institutionalized.”
You may wonder lock-ups are places where prisoners serve a sentence, and they are seldom related to something comfortable. Why does he consider them “funny”?
In effect, a comfort zone does not necessarily mean a place where you may feel comfortable but an interaction with the environment to which you are no stranger.
A Comfort zone makes us feel secure and relaxed and gives us the feeling that everything is in control. It is, in essence, a solution to our panic in anything we are unacquainted with. The more severe we sense the threats, the more tendency we have to grip the existing approaches. What’s more, it is also a blockage in our minds to make a change in our lives.
It is the evasion of anxiety and the need to control that drive ourselves back to familiar places and resist any changes. Only by dropping the habitual keys can we find a more promising door leading to a change.