A Lie about Comfort

Do you know what one of the top reasons is that people don’t make the changes they really want to make?

It’s the “need” to be comfortable.

I’m not talking about Barcaloungers or Tempur-pedic mattresses. I’m talking about pushing the boundaries of our own comfort zone.

I’m not talking about appreciating being comfortable, or enjoying being comfortable, but about the “need” to be comfortable.

It’s a lie.

Most everyone knows that true growth happens along the edges of our experience, along the periphery where the challenges live, the place where things are not yet comfortable.

Imagine for a minute how much growth a person is likely experiencing when they’re sitting in the living room watching TV, numbing out the stresses of the life they feel stuck in. Or how much growth a person is likely experiencing when they’re standing in front of the fridge, thinking “I probably shouldn’t have that,” even as they reach out for the ice cream, a spoon already in their other hand.

How much change is happening there? Probably not much, at least in a good direction.

But it can be comfortable can’t it?

In contrast, now imagine how much growth is possible if you stretch yourself.

What if you take that class you’ve been thinking about, or start training for the race you’ve always wanted to run, or the making the decision to scale back your work hours so you can spend more time doing something you enjoy.

Quite a bit more change, right? And probably in a good direction!

These experiences are not “knowns” in the subconscious mind, they are not comfortable, they are not necessarily secure choices (they are not without risk). I mean, just in the scenarios I mentioned above, you could fail the class you wanted to take, you could twist your ankle while training for the race, and you could reduce yourself right out of a job completely.

You certainly wouldn’t experience any of that kind of risk staring at the television in the living room or into a now empty ice cream carton.

Without that discomfort of doing something that pushes your comfort zone, you wouldn’t grow.

You wouldn’t feel the aliveness of learning something new, feeling fit and strong in your body, feeling happier and more relaxed that very well could come from stretching yourself into that unknown territory.

It’s in the uncomfortable place – the area that requires you to really make a choice to step into the discomfort – that the growth happens, that the change can really occur.

Most of the people that come in to my office are really interested in making positive changes, they invest their time and money in making that change a reality, and they are willing to go to the uncomfortable places and do those uncomfortable things that bring them increased happiness and health.

But sometimes I’ll have a client that comes in who just won’t get any traction, who won’t make meaningful forward progress, and who won’t make the changes they seek.

(Notice I said “won’t” instead of “can’t,” – big difference).

Many times these clients don’t move forward because of their need to be comfortable.

They have the mistaken idea that staying comfortable is the point of their lives.

Even if they are unhappy, they reason, at least they are comfortably unhappy.

And so instead having that conversation with the boss or the husband or wife, instead of putting in that exercise DVD they bought two years ago, instead of trying a new restaurant or new church or new job, they keep doing what is comfortable.

Instead of running the risk of being uncomfortable, they stay in the jobs they hate, they stay overweight, they stay in unsatisfying relationships, they stay a slave to an unhealthy habit, they stay broke or broken.

In essence, they indulge themselves right out of their motivation, right out of their own success!

I’m here to tell you that such “settling” is not necessary.

What’s more, the underlying premise isn’t even true!

We do NOT “need” to be comfortable at all times in all ways.

We are stronger than that.

We have more to do, more to give, more to grow, more to learn, more to show, more to be, more to experience.

It’s not over yet.

If we’re settling for comfort in our lives, we can choose not to.

An empowering, exciting, fulfilling kind of life doesn’t happen on the sidelines, it doesn’t happen in the comfort zone – it happens on the growing edge, in the space where we learn to be ok with a certain level of discomfort, and still move forward.

I hope this message stirs that place in you that needs it most.

In the next post I’ll share one technique that has helped me get past the “need” to be comfortable. Keep an eye out for it.

Drop me a line with your thoughts…