All my life I aimed for comfort. I aimed to have few things enough to do in order to lay on the couch and chill. Be cozy, zone out to TV with a beverage, under a cozy blanket. I think most parents have some similar dream. Time to themselves while still feeling awake enough to enjoy a quiet comfort. I got that time when we had no kids left in the house. I spent a lot of it enjoying comfort.
Comfort, just like everything is best enjoyed in moderation.
What happens when we make comfort our focus is that we start seeing anything that interrupts it as a threat, instead of an opportunity. Relationships, change, personal growth are all threats to comfort because they all come with risk. Risk is not comfort, although it can be exciting and rewarding. It doesn't matter how profitable it could be if we focus on staying comfortable.
If we make comfort our focus, we start hermitting ourselves away and building walls between us and the rest of the world - even people we love. I mean cause… relationships can be scary - right? Being hurt by someone we love is painful, so often avoiding conversation about feelings - or relationships in general - are a good ways to stay in your comfort zone. We may have become so good at building walls we don't know we're doing it. We may not see the walls we put up but chances are everyone else feels them.
If we focus on comfort, our circle of comfort will forever shrink. We'll constantly be aiming for more comfort instead of stretching outside of our average zone. We can get a comfort tolerance and things suddenly need to be more perfect, more perfectly comfortable. Just like any bad addiction, you can just never get enough. This is a spiral - as your circle of comfort gets smaller, there are more and more threats to your comfort, which means…
If you focus on comfort, you are going to find more and more reasons to wall yourself in, see all things that don't bring you comfort as wrong or unacceptable, and ultimately… become crazy self-critical over all your own characteristics that bring risk to your comfort zone -- all actually making you less comfortable as a person and even more walled up.
It's a downward spiral just like anything we overdo. We aren't meant to be comfortable all the time. Just think about an arm in a cast - it's protected in that hard wrap in a sling or with some other support so that it can heal. In the meantime, the muscles that heal far ahead of the bone are shriveling from too much comfort. They need use to be at their best. We are meant to stretch ourselves to do new things, growth into deeper people, gather all that wisdom. These things don't come when we ride in comfort.
I don't want you to think that comfort isn't at times important. It is. My focus is on moderation. Comfort is perfect for when we need to: heal, recharge, refresh, celebrate, nourish, grieve, rest, reset, disconnect, disengage, slow down, nurture, self-care…
It is essential in phases of the above. However, at some point, comfort is a static state. There is very little growth if your focus is your own comfort. It will keep your world small. I invite you to ask yourself from time to time to check your own comfort zone.
Some ways to check in with yourself:
- What have I learned about myself lately?
- How am I connecting to those I love?
- Am I happy (or feeling my core desired feelings)?
- Am I escaping or needing time to renew or heal?
- Am I ready to move forward?
Comfort doesn't allow us to move forward. Moving forward, trying new things, going for goals can be uncomfortable. They are meant to be - to help us grow into the people we are meant to be. If you want more, you have to be more. That comes with growth. Growth and comfort are so rarely enjoyed together. Choose to stretch your zone into your true, connected authenticity.