The self help industry goes on and on about the “comfort zone” and why you need to break out of it. Yet, when ever we explore someone who’s supposedly in the comfort zone, they don’t appear to be feeling very comfortable at all. They’re usually miserable! So what’s really going on here? In this video, we explore the INERTIA of the Familiar Zone, a far more dangerous and life-ruining place than any comfort zone could ever hope to be… and how to escape it. This is for people feeling stuck in a rut in their careers, relationships and health.
As we head into another new year, and all that bullshit you tell yourself about New Year’s resolutions starts wafting through your mind. Once again, I want to put out this video to give you an idea as to why that never really works out and why people stay stuck in this thing called the comfort zone, when it doesn’t even really exist.
We’ll start by debunking the comfort zone myth. There’s an idea and you probably see it on your Facebook feed every day, that people are stuck in this thing called the comfort zone. And that if they got out of it, they will be happy. But how comfortable is the comfort zone? If you’ve been stuck in a rut, Doing what you always do forever, How comfortable are you really? Do you sleep well at night? Do you like what you see in the mirror? Do you feel happy and healthy and confident most of the time? Do you feel comfortable? No, you don’t, do ya? You’re fucking miserable half the time you’re just using substances or other sort of dopamine highs to try and get away from the fact that you’re just depressed, apathetic about life, stressed about the future, regretting the past. How’s that comfortable?
No the comfort zone doesn’t even exist, there are no comfortable humans. I had a great insight when I was working in Department of Corrections, I’ve told the story before: I used to work with a lot of battered woman, okay, woman in physically abusive relationships. And time and time again, I’d be just driven to madness with frustration about how hard it was to get them to stop being with guys like this. I mean, I’d work with a girl for like a year to slowly motivate her and give her the courage to leave a dangerously abusive partner. And I’m not exaggerating, within a week, she would be with another guy who was even worse. And this happened again. And again. And again. It was like watching an addict trying to quit a drug, the amount of woman who would just somehow with some sort of radar, find the few abusive men that are out there and just cycle through them.
Sometimes I’d know women who were dating the same men, it was ridiculous. But it was just so baffling and counterintuitive. I mean, these women were not enjoying these relationships. I mean, they had some highs, but the most of the time they were living in fear, walking on eggshells, and of course getting their head kicked in. So I had to ask myself, how can we call that a comfort zone? It’s got to be called something else. And that’s where I came up with the idea of the Familiar Zone.
Now familiarity does not have to have anything to do with comfort, physical, emotional, spiritual, any, any form of comfort, just has to be the same. That’s all. It has to be repetitive, has to have a Groundhog Day type feel to it, has to be predictable, consistent. So a woman might be with an unpredictably abusive man, but being with an unpredictably abusive man is predictable. They know that it’s going to be bad. They know what he’s going to be like, they don’t know when it’s going to happen, but they know what’s going to happen. There is a predictability, a sameness to it. It’s just like the last guy and the guy before him and their father and their grandfather. There’s just repetition.
And what I’ve come to realize is that this is a human trait and a human tendency. Generally, except for exceptional people, we prefer the same over change, even if that change means success, or the reduction of pain, we’ll choose the same even when we know it sucks and we know we could do better, we still choose the same or at least we’re urged to choose the same or we’re complacent about it. So here’s a key understanding to help you know yourself and understand why people do what they do. A human being, for some reason, is wired to keep eating shit. Just so long as it’s the same old shit.
That actually makes sense in an evolutionary psychology sense. That, you know, there was a time when this kind of trait would have been necessary for our survival. You know, human beings spent most of their existence somewhere in the middle of the food chain, we were just great apes. And we were as much at risk as any other mammal wandering around the plains of Africa and so on. So if you found a good place to stay, you should stay there. If you found a healthy tribe to be a part of you should stick with that tribe. If you found a skill that enabled you to survive you should just do nothing but that skill. It made sense because you died when you fucked around with change too much. You’re like Ah I’m gonna eat any berries I feel like, I’m sick of eating those same old berries. You died. You’re like, you know what, I’m gonna see what’s over the next horizon. You died over the next horizon, and so on. Now, of course they were pioneers, people who broke away from this. But they were the leaders with huge packs of followers who are just doing the same old thing, following the leader. So it’s very rare. There’s very few bloodlines that contain that leadership gene, I imagine. They’re bold, like, I always want change. I always want uncomfortable newness.
Most people are like, When can I just settle? When’s this gonna end? When can I just stick with what I’ve got forever? What’s the rulebook that I have to follow, so nothing has to change? I mean, so many of you watching this have that kind of motive much more than are going to have the keep mixing it up motive. The only problem with this, of course, is it suits being a middle of the food chain great ape, but it doesn’t suit being a modern day, highly technologically advanced human.
How it manifests is essentially inertia. Whenever we get into something, we feel an immediate urge to keep it and maintain it and not change it. And the most common tactic that our fear and insecurity will use against us to maintain that inertia is a delay tactic. Of all the things I’ve seen fear do to humans, nothing is more devastatingly powerful and more subtle than just delaying. I’ll do the next workout tomorrow. You know, I’ll make that phone call next week. We might call it procrastination and it goes by other names, but it always seems to make sense like now’s not the right time. And if you understand fear, fear has this endless stamina to always say that no matter how often you return to a task, fear can give you a reason why now’s not the right time to do it.
See, it’s got nothing else to do. It’s not gonna go like, Oh, I’m tired of saying this, just do it now. Well, no, I’ll put it off again. And again, I can put it off for seconds at a time, wait, just wait a minute, just wait a second, give it another couple of minutes, a couple of days, couple of weeks, months, years. Fear all it has to do is keep delaying every time you think of doing nothing, the change thing, the new thing, it can keep that up forever, ensuring that the thing never actually happens. And so as you delay change, you stay the same: inertia.
And the longer that happens, the harder it is to change. Or at least the illusion is the harder it is to change. Now you’re committed. Now you’ve got the sunk cost fallacy where you’re like I put so much into this, it would be a shame to waste it. And all these other narratives that are just more of the same old principle, delay change. Notice, right now many of you will say I need this job, whatever that is the job that you’ve got. Yet once upon a time, it was a new job. And right before that you didn’t have this job at all, and you’re still alive. And now you need it? Now, without it you what? you die? How was it a thing that you went most of your life without is now necessary? How is it that like, oh, I can’t leave my partner. Well, how would you survive your whole life without them before you meet them? How do you explain that period of time where you didn’t need them And now you suddenly do? Doesn’t make any sense. But you’ll tell yourself that I can’t change because… as if things have always been this way and it’s somehow law of physics impossible to move in a different direction.
You know, I’ve recently been through a training program to just break out of my dad bod-ness that accumulated over two years since my first child was born. And I just noticed up until I did this program, I just kept putting off the new nutrition plan until Monday, you know, or the new workout until tomorrow when my whatever wasn’t so sore anymore. It was just constantly putting it off. And putting it off actually felt good. Like, oh, we’re going to fucking crush this on Monday. Now as my brain is not saying which Monday, makes it sound like next Monday, but next Monday comes around and Ah but the baby’s sick, I can’t do it today, right? It’s stressful. I’ve gotta eat chocolate. Now it’s off til next Monday, and the next one. And then I kind of maybe I just stopped telling myself next Monday, I just go Ah I give up. Just inertia.
How many of you are getting into your 30s and 40s and noticing your social circle is starting to get a bit stale? Lots of people getting married, having kids becoming less available. Maybe you’re outgrowing them. You don’t quite get into the conversations like you used to. Or you’re sick of having the same conversations for 15 years. Something’s happening that just feels a bit old and stale. And of course the circle is shrinking, isn’t it? You’re losing people. When’s the last time you went out and boldly met some new people and shook things up? And you know, when’s the… who’s the most recent friend that you’ve accumulated, that wasn’t just a work colleague you’re forced to sit next to? Someone that you went and initiated with? How long has it been? I mean, when you’re younger, you did that all the time. Right? So what you don’t have that skill? That you can’t do it now that you’re an adult? what’s your excuse for keeping the same old social circle that you’ve actually grown out off? You’re gonna have a lot of excuses for why you keep things the same. You’re going to have a whole woe is me fucking pity tale about how life’s harder for you than it is for everyone else on the planet. And that’s why you can’t change, you poor little darling.
You’re gonna have that story. We’ve all got it, I’ve got my own. There’s this disruptive question you can ask yourself. And if you’re not ready to disrupt this, then stop the video now because this next question, once you hear it, it’s world changing.
As simple as it is, all you have to do is look at your situation and ask yourself, “Is this my preference?” Is this the ideal situation for me? If the answer is no, then you are eating shit. Okay? If you say, This is not my preference, and it’s something you chose, then you’re eating shit. You’re deliberately eating something you don’t like, you don’t even have to eat it. But you’ve always been eating it. Or you’ve been in it for a long time. And so you just keep on eating, because you’ve always been eating it. It’s a weird reason to eat shit. Can you imagine literally seeing someone eat a pile of dog shit? as disgusting as it sounds? And you say, why the fuck are you eating that, they’re like, cuz I always eat this. That’d be baffling that that was their reason, right? And yet, if I was to ask you, like, why are you at this job, like, I need this job. And I’ve been here for five years, I’m waiting on a promotion. So you keep at a shit job, because you’ve always had a shit job. Good, good logic, I’m convinced.
The way to break through this if you want to, if you’re sick of eating shit even though you keep doing it and you understand that being uncomfortable is not the problem it’s being unfamiliar that you’re scared off, you’re actually quite comfortable being uncomfortable because your life’s miserable half the time isn’t it? And it doesn’t have to be. You need to get mad about your familiarity, you need to be pissed off that you’ve got this outdated system, this program from 100,000 years ago running in your brain and fucking things up for you and you’re letting it.
One way to get mad is firstly, give yourself permission, I’m allowed to do anything I can have a shit life if I want, it’s fine. No problem. But before you do, you have to be honest with yourself. So anytime you go to do anything, every time you’re going to drive off to the job that you’ve got, or skip the gym again. Or, you know, go on another date with another girl that you don’t like or whatever it is, you can do any of that stuff as long as you start with an honest question. Is this my preference? And yes or no, you can do whatever you want after that, but you just got to acknowledge the truth. You’re not lying to yourself about why you’re keeping it familiar.
Stop giving yourself these grand excuses, I need this, I have to, I can’t until this happens. It’s all bullshit because none of this stuff is permanent. You’ve lived without it before. So at least go, I’m choosing something that’s not my preference because I’ve got this familiarity program, this pointless thing that just ruins my life and I’m just allowing it to run my life again. Just tell yourself that and then go do it. You’re fine. No problem with being honest with yourself, right? What’s that gonna do?
And then of course, when the excuses come up as they inevitably will, you gotta tests their truth, rather than just buying them on the first glance, when your brain says, but I need this job, I’ve got a family to feed, just go really, this job? There’s no other jobs available on the planet. I completely lack the ability to research another job, send an application for it while still working at this job – so financially secure, no problem there. So it’s totally impossible for me to even look at another job. Really, you can’t find what 10 minutes in the middle of the night when everyone’s asleep, to have a little look at some job finder website really? You lack that ability? That time is not available? I know people working three full time jobs at the same time. You don’t have enough time to look for a job. Really? Sure you need some sort of resources to feed your family but needing this particular job. Really? It’s too late. I’ve left it too late. Are you dying today? Is it over? Has the doctor given you a clock and it’s ticking down from 24 hours and you will just squeeze in some time for the family because lights out soon.
What do you mean you don’t have time? You have as much time as anybody else. You have 24 hours per day. Right? So what do you mean it’s too late. What does too late mean? For what? Now, is it too late for you to suddenly qualify for the next round of Olympics when you’ve never worked out a day in your life. Probably. Is it too late to go to the gym? No. Is it too late to drop right now and do a three push ups? Really, it’s too late for that? It’s too late to start putting some money aside even though you’ve been in debt your whole life? Is it too late to take $1 a week and put it into a bank account that you don’t spend really? it’s too late for that? You don’t have enough time left to do that really? I can’t afford it. Oh really so like, every dollar you spend right now is on absolute necessities, no luxury items whatsoever, no unnecessary items whatsoever. You are squeezed to the absolute death. You couldn’t put even 20 cents aside. There’s just no room for movement, right? You got to have those three lattes a day, you got to right? You couldn’t save up for that thing you can’t afford. It’s just not possible. You don’t know anybody who would loan you the money. You’re totally not qualified to get any form of credit. Really? I could go on and on.
But most of all, you just got to admit it to yourself: I only do this because my brain is programmed to eat the same old shit. Once was a survival mechanism and now is absolutely just a pit of misery. And tell yourself: if I was courageous, I would definitely change this. If I had the bravery to face the unfamiliar well, then that’s the only thing I need. I have the skills, the abilities, the resources to change all of these things in my life. I just lack the courage that’s all. And just be honest with yourself about that, at least. That way you can go to bed without having to concoct a big fucking woe is me story that justifies your crappy decisions. You can least go like I’m just gonna stick with being afraid I’m just gonna be a pussy, it’s fine. And that’s actually okay. Really.
What’s not okay is lying to yourself, because then you’ve got no chance at all on ever having autonomy in your life, you need to know that the options are available before you dismiss them.
And of course, I’m going to say this, if you really want to break out of your familiar zone, get a coach, me maybe, or someone else, it doesn’t matter. But get someone who’s going to challenge and push you and not agree with your narratives and not agree with your excuses and your stories and point out that you have all these abilities and resources and there’s no real rational reason why you can’t put them into use. Somebody who gives you a bit of kick up the arse, not to get out of your comfort zone, but to actually make a more comfortable life by doing shit you actually like with the one fucking life you’ve got, instead of pissing it away until you’re old and you start regretting all the old shit that every old person regrets because they made the same mistakes.
You don’t want that to be your end, do you? Suddenly too feeble, now it’s actually too late to do all that stuff. Going fuck I could have changed it. Do you really want to be that guy? Fuck being that guy. Dude. Really? Nothing scares me more than being that person at the end going Fuck, I could have done way better than this, it was right there. You know, I don’t want to be that guy. And if you don’t either, get some sort of support. Get someone to push motivate you.
There person is me, email@example.com. And even if that person’s not me, get in touch and I’ll put you in touch with somebody who’s better suited. I don’t care as long as you change. I’ll see you next time.
Dan’s Top Resources
Dan has 3 bestselling non-fiction books available in both written and audio form:
- The Naked Truth, his latest release, shows you how radical honesty builds self-confidence and relationships
- Nothing to Lose explores how to build confidence from the inside by correcting the programming in your brain
- The Legendary Life is a very practical, action-focused guide on how to plan and execute a life plan that brings you your ideal lifestyle
Dan continues to put out high quality online self-paced courses through the Udemy platform
- Nice Guy Recovery: how to transform from a people pleaser into a confident beast.
- Shamelessness: how to relieve yourself of the “not good enough” story
- Powerful Honesty: takes you through step-by-step development of your communication skills to be more charismatic and powerful in your honesty
- The 3X Confidence and Authenticity Masterclass program: use the famous 3X Model to build confidence in all areas of life
- Financial Freedom for Beginners: includes everything from budgeting, to getting a raise, to investing in the stock market, to starting a side-business and more
- Overcoming Your Fear of Rejection… Permanently!: covers the psychology of “rejection” and what actions to take to make yourself immune to the fear of it