“When we lose tolerance for discomfort, we lose joy.” – Brene Brown
I am leading a little course at my local gym about mindfulness and whole-hearted living. This past week we covered the section on resiliency and there as a lot of talk about discomfort, which got me thinking about all of those catch phrases that get tossed around.....
"Step out of your comfort zone."
"Do you think everyday that scares you."
"Most everything you want is outside of your comfort zone."
"A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing every grows there."
and my personal favorite (favorite to hate and call BS on....)
"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."
I pretty much hate all of these and think that they are easy, catchy phrases to say, often used to shut people down, manipulate them or counter an argument.
So here is my take on all of this BS.....
On one side of the comfort coin, please know there is nothing wrong with your comfort zone. If we lived our entire life "stepping out of our comfort zone," then our nervous system would be a complete wreck, we would get nothing done, our energy would be tapped out every single day and rest, relaxation and restoration would not exist in our lives.
This is NOT SUSTAINABLE, doable, much less enjoyable. And don't we want to enjoy life.
So my first BIG issue are these sweeping statements used most often in circumstances where they do not apply and in circumstances where you aren't actually building a resilient nature, but creating a fearful environment.
Now, to the other side of the coin, declaring you are stepping out of your comfort zone, seeing exactly what you will be doing, having a plan, a complete support system, have had the time to think it over, analyze it and make a conscious choice to do the thing.....
Is NOT stepping out of your comfort zone my friends!
Planning, thinking, support, is in and of itself comfortable. You are well aware of what you are about to do. Yes, it may be risky or scary, but it is not entirely unexpected.
It is when discomfort is thrown at our feet and we are suddenly faced with hardship, adversity, struggle or challenge without a plan, without analysis, often without immediate support and without any fucking idea it was about to happen......that is some true discomfort!
And as Brene says, our problem lies in not being able to tolerate this in our daily lives.
Being told my mom died,
Being diagnosed with cancer,
Feeling extreme grief and anguish from losing Rugby,
Or walking into the house and finding a floor full of water from the dishwasher leaking....
Is some true fucking discomfort.
And it is how I handle myself in those moments that truly show my level of tolerance.
Not by stepping out of my comfort zone, but by being pushed the fuck out and not even knowing it until I am scrambling to catch my breath.
So the next time you declare that you are about to "step out of your comfort zone," know that in even saying that, you are in a moment of knowing, which is pretty fucking comfortable. And that is ok......
A comfort zone is not an all or none, it has different nooks and crannies, sharp edges and scary holes......and exploring this is a must and absolutely takes nothing away from you when you play big, take risks and do things that scare you.
AND........take a look at what level you can tolerate the discomfort that you never saw coming......
That my friend, is where the real work lies, and where your access to joy and freedom will shine.