COMFORT ZONES vs DANGER ZONES
“Work for peace” is a concept that promotes non-violence.
In Seattle, there is a middle school that got tired of all the
signs it had up that young people saw when they walked in
the front door.
They had signs like “Don’t carry weapons,”
” Don’t do drugs,” “No fighting,” “Don’t do this,” ” Don’t do that,”
So, one day, the principal replaced all those signs with two
The first banner said, “At this middle school,
we always practice random acts of kindness.” And, the
second banner said, “This is the safest school in North
Both of these banners were powerful concepts
because they affected the student’s subconscious.
Of course, if it’s the safest school in the world, that means
you wouldn’t dare carry a weapons. And, if this school
Practices random acts of kindness, then you would rarely
hear demoralizing, degrading comments the put-downs
that are so often a part of many schools.
Thus, the signs changed from negative to positive, and
so did the comfort zones of tbe students. Imagine this concept
being applied in a prison setting. Let’s go a step further and
change this from Students to Offenders.
They expand their comfort zones to include safety and
random acts of kindness. If you don’t want someone
put-down, than what do you wan? You want them built up.
So, focus totally on what you want to have happen. I’ve
thought about the t-shirts we offenders wear. They are just
plain white tee shirts.
I have thought about this, we place
a positive affirmation on the front, what a way to get a
positive message out. In prison setting, we would be
working continuously to help live with dignity.
We ive in a globle society. There are no borders. With the
advent of technology, economy, we can’t afford to be
uncomfortable with differences. We need to be comfortble
with the differences and diversity of our work force and society.
Now, what does it mean to be more “comfortable?” My friend
and mentor Mike Drake , teaches the concept of ” Comfort Zone.”
One of the most important things about life is that, whatever
we do, wherever we go, wherever we carry the human spirit,
we try to be comfortable.
We have comfort zone with where we live, with our money,
with our cellmates, with Correctional
Staff, and even with our families. All of us have comfort zones
in many different areas of our lives.
But, sometimes, something happens that puts us out of our
comfort zones, and many people, when they get out of their
comfort zones, want to get back to where they belong. Most
people do this subconsciously. We never really know why
we are out of ourcomfort zones; we just know something
doesn’t feel right.
I feel that comfort zones are also a major issue in the world
of disabities. In the world of disability, the disabled, like any
other person, sometimes build comfort zones around their
disabilities their wheelchairs, beds, crutches, houses, etc.
Every one of us does things to stay were we are
most comfortable. You see, our comfort zones are directly
related to our self-image.
So often, when we build a comfort zone around us,
we create a self-image that matches our
Comfort zone. For example, if in my comfort zone, I get
high and lay cards for money, I am going to seek out
people who do the same. (not that I would) Or , if I work,
go to church, and be pro-social, I will seek out others of
And, all of us build an environment of comfort zones
around ourselves. We become comfortable with our
friends, our Counselors, our cellmates, even with
the officers that work in the units.
Wheneverthings change, we are challenged to get out
of our comfort zones. And, by getting out of our comfort
zones, we have one oftwo reactions: we either do
everything we can to get back into where we feel most
comfortable, or we expand our comfort zones, in order
to grow and change.
I want you to try an exercise: Ask someone to put out their
right hand. Then take your right and push against it.
Don’t tell them what you are doing. Just say, “Hold Up
your right hand,” and then push on it.
And automatiically, Subconsciously, the other individual
will push back.
You see, whenever we feel pushed,we always push back.
Whenever we feel threatened, we will either get aggressive
or we slip back into our comfort zones.
If you are physically disabled, use the idea of comfort zones
in your physical therapy, Or in your work environment.
If there is someone around you who is uncomfortable
because you are disabled, work to gradually expand their
comfort zones until they get to know you.
Or, if you are not disabled, work to expand your comfort
zone when you’re around someone who is disabled.
People who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
or who have been out of touch for some time, will be
out of their comfort zones as well.
One way to build someone’s comfort zone or even their
Awareness of types of disabilities is to hold a special
olympics types of games. This is a challenge for people
who are unaware. This could be done at a school yard
Or a business outing or even the prison yard as an
Within the world of disability, we must also ask where
the leaders are. Often, as people who are disabled become
successful acquire an education, and find proffessional jobs
they become included and we really don’t see them as
disabled, but more as part of everyday life or society.
One of the challenges that I face with this project is to
tell people with disabilities those who are very included
and have accomplished some degree of success is that
we need you, and we need your leadership abilities, to
help others believed in themselves.
Thanks for reading my proposal, I will post more of it in the
next few days. If you would like to comment please write me
at the address below as I dont have anyone monitoring my
blogg at this time.
Dickie Oppen Jr.