Although there is one reality, one series of events taking place in time and space, our perception of those events – and the data that we filter out – varies significantly from person to person. There is but one reality – or is there?
The world we live in, our personal map of reality, is largely shaped by our self perception and self image. Perceived competence and self-efficacy is derived from how we are treated, especially in the early years of our lives. How we are treated affects how we see ourselves, which in turn affects how we treat others and subsequently how we are treated by others.
The irony is that the one thing that provides us with the potential for personal transformation beyond our wildest imagination is that same entity that can provide us with a lifetime of challenges and limitations in our relationships and within ourselves. It’s all in the comfort zone.
Our self image provides us with a psychological “comfort zone”. This zone has a lower limit and an upper limit. We strive to maintain our life experiences, interactions, and achievements above the lower limit and below the upper limit.
Someone with a high perceived self-efficacy and self-image will seek out positive experiences, high achievements, and positive interdependent relationships - whereas someone with a low perceived self-efficacy and self-image will seek out negative experiences, low achievements, self sabotage, and co-dependent relationships. Ultimately, our daily behaviors and communication are driven by our self-image, and we will use these tools to do whatever we can to maintain our comfort zone.
What we will oftentimes fail to remember is that underlying every behavior is a positive intention. Behaviors are based on the possibilities and capabilities that a person perceives to be available to them within their map of reality, in the context of the situation as they see it (or have been programmed to see it). The behavior is appropriate given the context in which it was established, from the point of view of the person whose behavior it is. It will also typically be consistent with maintaining the person’s comfort zone, though it may not make sense or appear logical or rational to those around him/her.
If we fail to push the upper limit of our comfort zone, we will have limited growth. We may be unable to have relationships that are as fulfilling as we imagine them being. But if we can make the choice to push that upper limit, to challenge ourselves and our self perceptions and our self image, then we have the potential to accomplish virtually anything we choose. We have the capacity to define our inner world, to impact that which lies outside of us. We have all that we need within each and every one of us. We just need the courage to explore those limits.
In an upcoming post, I will provide some practical examples of how our comfort zone defines our transformation or our limitation – all in the same breath.
Photo credits: Wikipedia