Originally Posted by nycindie
I do see value in occasionally pushing up against my comfort zones. Not in a punishing way, like enduring all manner of shit because it's supposedly good for me, but rather like a periodic testing to see if the parameters of my comfort zones have shifted, expanded, or contracted.
I mean, there are a lot of foods and condiments I like now that I told myself I hated as a kid without even trying them. If I hadn't ever chosen to bump up against my self-imposed limits, and to actually try these things, I wouldn't be enjoying yogurt, coffee, mustard, and some other things as much as I am today (yes, these are all foods that I never even tasted until I was an adult). I still wrestle with feeling awkward around people, especially in group settings or parties, and so I push my comfort zone a lot to get past that because I do want people in my life and to be more at ease in groups without needing alcohol, so I am willing to look foolish and feel uncomfortable to achieve that goal. But if I ain't feeling the need to go there, I guiltlessly stay home and enjoy my comfort zone.
I approach the boundary-testing of my comfort zones as an exercise that I do solely for my own benefit, if and when I see fit to do so. If I find that I like my comfort zones just as they are and have no need to push past them anymore, that's perfectly fine, too. But while I do think that it is beneficial to at least look at our comfort zones and occasionally test them, I don't think anyone else should be telling me which comfort zones I should give up or test - and I hope I haven't come off as someone who tells others what zones to test, although I know I've made suggestions to people as ideas to look at and see if it rings true for themselves.
This is precisely what I talked about that I think is healthy and ok to do. If you are doing it because it is what YOU want for yourself, it is not the same as when you're doing it to impress someone else or when you feel pressured or obligated to meet external or artificial expectations.
I, too, now like a lot of foods I didn't like earlier in my life. But when I was a child, I was forced to eat certain things that tasted unpleasant to me. Tasting those things against my will as a child did NOT cause me to "develop a taste" for them. I did what I could to avoid those foods and it was not until later, as an adult, that I came to try them again ON MY OWN TERMS, and some of them I now actively seek (one example that comes to mind is raw carrots), while others I continue to dislike more and more (raw celery comes to mind - I CAN'T STAND how celery shows up EVERYWHERE).
However, I would never expect my partner(s) to "push their limits" by, for example, insisting that they go vegan because I am vegan or eat meat because I eat meat. I would never insist that my partner learn to swim if they have a phobia of water, just so they could keep me company while I go swimming.
Even when it comes to my relationship with myself: I am afraid of heights. Therefore, I do not choose to go sky-diving or mountain-climbing. I am capable of a full, rich life with stimulating hobbies and diverse activities, lots of opportunities to expand my horizons and experience satisfaction and accomplishment - without ever having to position myself thousands of feet above the surface of the earth (it only takes about a dozen feet of elevation before I begin feeling a physical reaction). Other folks may enjoy an adrenaline rush or something when they put themselves in that kind of position; I simply want to get down. If my partner(s) suddenly said to me one day, "If you want to be with me, you have to come skydiving with me, and you have to LIKE it, or at least pretend to like it", I'd rather break up. I would own my part of it and say, "No, you go skydiving by yourself, or find someone else to go with you. I'll see you when you're done." Or I could leave the relationship. And from the other side, "I require that you go skydiving with me as a condition of being in a relationship together" and if I decline, you can leave the relationship. But I think it is ridiculous to say that you can't go skydiving without me because **I** don't like heights.