We see the effect of our self image and comfort zone reflected in our behaviors on a daily basis. Our self talk becomes a significant factor in our self image. Should our self image be low, and our self talk be negative, we will also partake in self-sabotaging behaviors to maintain our comfort zone.
We are all faced with a challenge to growth. How do we effectively acknowledge our self perceptions and self image and, in doing so, consciously raise the upper limit of our comfort zone? We have the ability – or the response-ability, as Stephen Covey notes - to expand our internal locus of control if we so choose. We have the ability to refine and control our self talk, again if we so choose.
Here are three common examples of self image, self sabotage, and comfort zones in action.
For consistency, let us assume that Person A has a low self image, and Person B has a high self image.
Example 1: Imagine Person A and Person B in an interpersonal relationship. Perhaps it is a love relationship, or even a work relationship. It might go something like this:
- Person B wants to create a positive relationship environment, which Person A agrees with – up to a certain point. That point is determined by the upper limit of Person A’s comfort zone and self image.
- If Person B keeps exhibiting behaviors that reinforce that positive relationship environment, this will continue to push the upper limit of Person A’s comfort zone.
- At some point, Person A is faced with a difficult challenge – either a) acknowledge within themselves that they are capable of self-efficacy (and thus push the upper limit of their comfort zone up), or b) do whatever it takes to participate in self- or relationship-sabotaging behaviors until they are back within their comfort zone. The decision (more often subconscious than conscious) is made by Person A.
- If the former occurs, the upper limit of Person A’s comfort zone rises. The relationship will continue to grow and develop. If the latter occurs, then Person B may be left wondering about the sudden and erratic changes in behavior, communication, etc.
In scenarios like this, Person B may feel as though Person A’s behaviors just aren’t rational or logical or perhaps they are unsympathetic, when in fact the behaviors are reflective of Person A’s self image and comfort zone. The answers are found within the context of Person A’s self image – not Person B’s.
Example 2: Similar self-sabotaging behaviors can be found in a person faced with an addiction. Imagine now that Person A is addicted to alcohol. Person B wants to help in any way possible. Person A knows (intellectually) that their behaviors are self destructive, but refuses to accept responsibility or change their behaviors. That would constitute self efficacy and a broaching of the upper limit of their comfort zone. Person A’s behaviors will be consistent with their self image and comfort zone. No matter what Person B does, until Person A chooses to raise the upper level of their comfort zone and address their own self destructive behaviors, nothing will change.
I suspect you might be starting to see the trends here.
Example 3: Self image and comfort zone can have a significant impact on sport participation as well. Fear of failure can be an important factor, but a fear of success can exist as well. What happens if Person A does not see themselves as being able to handle the changes inherent with success in their sport? They might have to deal with the pressures of fame, fortune, etc. But if their own perceived self efficacy and self image is low, they may not allow themselves to accomplish this. Self-sabotaging behaviors will appear in their sport event - “I just don’t know what happened to me again this time, I always choke in big games, etc”.
Self image envelopes all that we do. It may in fact be the primary limiter of all that we do in life. We think nothing of investing time and effort to develop our career skills – wouldn’t our self image be worthy of at least that much energy?
Photo credits: Wikipedia