The popular saying implies that it is better to deal with someone or something familiar than to deal with what you do not know because it might be worse.
I understand that there’s always an element of risk when one tries new experiences, but to me, the saying sounds more like an invitation. An invitation to stay in the (in)famous comfort zone.
The comfort zone is a mental and behavioral state in which the level of stress can be considered neutral or none at all. The comfort zone can also be defined as a self-imposed figurative space with clear limits and, as long as you don’t cross them, you’ll feel safe. Just like the saying “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”, at a first glance, the comfort zone looks nice. However, this also means that you’re not using your skillset, because submerged in the everyday routine and in its relative calmness; you’re not taking any risks.
Some people are honestly happy living there. After all, the comfort zone’s purpose is to provide a sense of protection. But there’s another kind of people, more of the “nothing ventured, nothing gained” kind, and for them, there’s no sense of protection in that zone, more like a sense of being stuck with their potential in a small room and no chance of getting out.
If for no apparent reason you get irritated, get bored easily, you’re keen on making excuses instead of starting new plans or feel envious at other people’s projects…you guessed it, you’re in the comfort zone and need to get out. Now.
To do this, you just need a single step, it’s not easy but at least it’s just one: tear down the fear wall. One of the reasons most people don’t start new things is fear, fear to fail, to be judged, there’s even fear to succeed. Meaning, it is usual to fear anything that threatens the status quo. It’s no secret that changes can be scary, but it’s also the only way in which we can discover new things and escape the comfort zone. To tear the wall down.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should necessarily go out to seek extreme adventures, but you should try new things and experiences. Changing your routine little by little can help. Try different types of food, read a book of a different genre that you’re used to, take a new road to your work, etc. Remember that you have to start with small steps like these so you can reduce fear and, with that achieved, you can make bigger decisions. Being stuck in the comfort zone, can be what’s holding you back in changing your job or even your relationship, because even if you feel that something it’s not right for you, fear of change can be paralyzing.
Life is full of ups and downs that we cannot control, but that is no reason to stay in small room of “comfort” with walls made of fear. We can lose when we take risks but that also means that we can win. I say better the devil good you don’t know than the devil you don’t.