It’s so easy to get stuck in ways of doing things that you look back and see that you’ve been doing things a certain way for far too long, for really no reason at all other than that it felt comfortable. Comfort zones are dangerous and I think we all need to consciously stay away from them. They’re like black holes or whirlpools that suck you in as soon as you relax. Staying vigilant is the key, and it’s not easy. Life should be amazing all the time, and we need to stop settling for anything less. We should always be improving and growing in all areas of our lives and comfort zones make that virtually impossible.
As soon as you feel like yourself or others start “labeling” you as a certain “type” it’s best to see that and evolve in that particular area. Don’t be flighty, that’s certainly not good. I say to “evolve” our comfort areas because we don’t want to run from them. If we run, we don’t learn anything. Here’s an example: let’s say people you work with label you as a “loud person”. It’s so easy to use that as an excuse for your loudness and just continue being.. well.. obnoxious because that’s just “the kind of person you are”. You could say that you’ve “always been that way” or that you “come from a family of loud people”, or whatever you wish to use as an excuse. It might not even consciously be an excuse, because you might actually believe yourself, but looking at it objectively, it is most certainly nothing but an excuse to continue being a jackass. By being stubborn, your ego may feel like “you’re staying true to yourself and just being who you are” when the reality is that the people you work with are losing respect for you one (one-sided) conversation after another.
Another option is to see this and “evolve” this comfortable previous way of being. Recognize it for what it is and sculpt it into something higher and better. Maybe use that “loudness” or whatever it may be in ways to make your world better or in a way that helps others. Be more outspoken on things that matter the most to you, using your loudness where it counts, and work on toning it down when around people who may be put off or offended by this certain quality. You may think that it’s impossible to do the opposite of said quality, but I guarantee you that if you look at it instead of settling with it or running from it, your life will be so much more interesting.
Have fun with it and try different things out with different people. I know in my life, there are certain people I am just one way around. With one person I’m always awkward, with another person I’m always comfortable, with this other person I’m always annoyed, etc. Lately I’ve been trying to be different around these people, and it’s really interesting. It sometimes feels like you’re hanging around totally different people, when it’s yourself who’s changed. The dark side of our personality might view that as pandering to others, but it’s not what this is. What you’ll be doing here is taking something that previously was “just the way you are” that you pretty much had no control over, and you’re creating art with it. When I say art, I mean anything that affects others or changes them if even a little bit.
In Aikido, there are some of us who are “softer”, or “more aggressive”, or “martial” with our Aikido. Maybe we’re very “stiff” or “weak” because “that’s just the way we are”. We all know what that certain quality our Aikido has that we’d like to change, but we instead make excuses to just keep being that way. Switch it up! All you Iwama-style rock solid Aikidoists, try being softer and more flowing with big brush-like motions. Not just a little bit, but A LOT! All of you Hombu-style Aikidoists, try making your motions more precise and rock-solid. Try getting completely out of that deadly comfort zone and evolve your art instead of being confined in it.