A few weeks ago, Handsome was talking with a friend about a tough situation they were in, and they said they knew they needed to get out of their “Comfort Zone” and fix it. Then they took a pause, and said, “But wait, I’m not comfortable at all!”
We often hear about “Comfort Zones.” Situations that are easy to stay in, while we know we’d be better off if we made the difficult choice to get out of them. For me, lots of my learning as a puppy fit this – it might be comfortable to lie on the forbidden couch or pee inside the house, but I was better off improving my behavior! Humans might find a situation like staying in their parents’ home, staying in a go-nowhere job, or avoiding a difficult conversation to be Comfort Zones.
But what I see so often is what I’ll call DIScomfort Zones! Situations one stays in that make them actively miserable.
For example, if you have nice parents who treat you well, and it’s comfortable to live with them although you know you need to move out and start to live your own life, that’s a Comfort Zone. But if you’re staying with parents who abuse, shame, and harass you… you’re in a Discomfort Zone.
In dealing with my Pack members, where I see this most often is young relationships. Whether friendships or romances, people will stay with others they might not think the best of or get the most out of, just because that’s the way things are. And really, that’s fine, until something changes. But it breaks my heart to see you guys stay with people who treat you badly. Who ignore you, who put you down (not in fun ways), who cheat on you, who blame you, who make you feel horrible about yourself.
Either zone requires strength and hope to leave. But with a Discomfort Zone, I also think it’s really important to look at the question of Why: What has kept you there? What do you get from it, and what’s so scary about being out of it that you’ve stayed?
In the relationship question, what is it that keeps you with those friends, or in that romance? Is it love, or is it maybe a deep-seated fear that you’re not good enough for someone else? That no one else is going to accept you? That this crumminess is as good as you’ll ever get?
And if that’s the case, then I want to challenge you to do one thing for me. I’m not telling you what decisions to make in your life, but I do just want you to look at that question anew. Really ask yourself – Is This True?
If you’re thinking no one else could love you, ask yourself why you have that belief. Who told you that? What about you is so unlovable?
Now I need to take a little pause here: If this is just that you’re feeling your relationship isn’t good enough because the other person doesn’t have a billion euros or look like Ana De Armas, that’s another story. You might be correct to think you’re not that very rare individual who’ll land someone with gifts such as those. But if you’re thinking no one worthy could love you, or even like you, please look over your past. Have you had other friends? Has someone else been interested in you? And if so, doesn’t that prove that you don’t need to stay in your Discomfort?
You see, the superpower of Comfort Zones and Discomfort Zones is in their telling you “Don’t think too much about this!” If you’re staying out of shape because it’s easier to sit around watching YouTube than to go for a run, that’ll work until the day you start wanting to be stronger and fitter so much you turn that iPad off. And if you stay sedentary it so much that you start having back problems and can’t stand what you see in the mirror, then it’s even more so: Once you ask yourself about the choice you’re making, you’ll start making a different choice!
Now again, I’m never going to argue anyone out of a true, considered choice to stay in an uncomfortable situation. The selflessness that leads one to a life of austere help to others, the nobility of defending your homeland against attackers, the deep love of taking care of ailing family members… these are virtues, not flaws. I bow to you for them.
But even with those, it’s good to step back and look at your choices. Because maybe doing so will help remind you of just how great you are! (I’m happy to do it too, but can’t be there with you all the time!)
Life offers joys, comforts, discomforts, and horrors. Everyone’s. All I’m pushing on you this month is to do what I do when I’m sleeping somewhere and it gets a little too sunny – so I wake, get up, and move to a shadier spot and go back to sleep.
To get conscious just long enough to do what’s best for you.
And do it Often!