Words and Art by J.Thoresen.
I’ve been giving the idea of comfort a lot of thought lately. Where we go for comfort. The things we do. And while I think we all need a space that provides us with less stress and anxiety. I’ve also been thinking that in many ways when we strive for comfort, we can actually throw ourselves in a rut. Although comfort is a natural program that we create to keep us safe with less energy input, sometimes it can become our prison.
Some people use drugs or alcohol to seek comfort, some people use relationships, food or sex. These are all more obvious examples in which comfort can create a rut. But I think we all pick our own poison. I don’t abuse substances but I get stuck in comfort zones. I hide at home and in my own mind. I avoid discomfort. I give in to my fear and anxiety. We likely all do in our own way. My Dad struggled with alcoholism, and while the ruts I create for myself are less treacherous, I’ve recognized just as he did that I can get stuck in a pattern of avoidance. And that can really be damaging. So just as he did, I’m fighting that urge to run back to my comfort zones. It’s a tough act to break though. And I’ve never felt more empathetic towards those trying to pull themselves out of the deep ruts of addiction. Even without that struggle, my mind keeps thinking and acting in a manner consistent with what I have done and said in the past. I get emotionally and physically uncomfortable when I attempt to try something new and different. And while my subconscious keeps pulling me back toward my comfort zone. Each time I try something new, I have learned that if I can withstand the discomfort for a short time, I open myself up to a life much more glorious than the one I live within a comfort zone. Through this practice I’ve started to recognize when I’m sliding back into my ruts. And I’ve found a few ways to move forward when I start feeling stuck. This is what works for me, so I thought I’d share with you.
1. Try something new.
Personally I’ve found the best way to push myself out of my comfort zone is to try something new. It forces me to meet new people, builds confidence, and has pretty much always been a catalyst for new creative endeavours. You’ll never know what you can do, if you never try.
2. Do something scary.
What is something you have always wanted to do but talked yourself out of? Whatever it is, do it! Sometimes growth is not only uncomfortable, it’s scary. While I’m perfectly ok with being silly and oversharing ridiculous things about myself, I often try to talk myself out of sharing my deeper thoughts and feelings for fear of rejection or conflict. So I decided to start a blog. I share my thoughts, poems, and art, and it’s really been a beautiful thing. I am learning it’s ok to share even the darkest parts of myself and I’m practicing being ok with rejection, and people opposing my opinion. Those things aren’t always easy to face but the more I practice the more I open myself up to deeper, and authentic interactions and relationships.
3. Agree to something you wouldn’t normally consider.
I don’t love group activities, but sometimes I agree and I almost always enjoy myself. It has helped me to discover how adaptable I can be with different types of people.
I get pretty stressed in a leadership role, but I’ve taken them, and have found I can actually be pretty great at pulling people together.
I love making art, but I dislike commissions. While I know part of this is that I prefer the freedom to make what I like, I also know that deep down I struggle to believe I am good enough. But I’m trying to throw that belief away. If someone approaches me to do something, they likely believe I am capable. So I try to believe it too. Because I am.
This is and will always be an evolving list. Because I’m always evolving, and I’m committed to the challenge of figuring out how to be my best self. And I’m discovering that the toughest part of that growth is facing the fact that I am often my own worst enemy.
Doing what you want takes courage. And it seems quite often we stand in our own way. I’m certainly not perfect, I’m always trying to sell myself on some story of doubt. Telling myself I can’t do this, or that. I say, “well maybe it’s just easy for that guy, if I was richer, more privileged, more talented, more personable, maybe I could do it too.” I shouldn’t even try, right? Wrong! It doesn’t matter if I’m taking a big leap or a tiny step, when I step out of my comfort zone I’m setting fire to all of the stories I’ve written to myself that say “I can’t.” You see I finally got sick of my own bullshit. I got sick of trying to adapt for everyone else. I got sick of the limitations I imposed on myself. I got sick of waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel and I lit that bitch myself.
And you can too!