My latest mission in the personal growth realm is to do things that cause me some discomfort, to shake things up a bit. Now, for those who know me, that doesn’t take much. I am a self-proclaimed person of content, for the most part. I am happier with less, not more. I tend to go through my days without feeling the need to do anything different than I am doing, but something in me realizes that I need to push myself a bit in order to continue to grow. Growth requires new experiences and challenges and I am willing to make some changes to have that.
I am not talking about the kind of change that is thrust upon you and causes a great deal of pain, even though those types of situations are somewhat necessary for personal growth. Let’s face it, we learn from adversity. Ekhart Tolle talks about conscious suffering in relation to raising our children in his book A New Earth. He states, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could spare them from all suffering? No, it wouldn’t. They would not evolve as human beings and would remain shallow, identified with the external form of things. Suffering drives you deeper.” No one wants to see anyone suffer, especially not our children, but when we prevent suffering from happening altogether by keeping ourselves and our children too safe, we stifle our human evolution. By consciously choosing to step out of our comfort zones, we can shift from our place of safety to a place of discomfort (suffering), which will assist us to expand, to learn, and grow.
I had a couple of opportunities to attend some social events this week that are typically outside my comfort zone. While I am very comfortable around groups of people I know, I am less so in social situations where I don’t know anybody. I noticed my inner comfortable person squawking about having to go to these events several days before the actual day. It started as a low level irritation and worked its way up to full fledged opposition on the day of the event. I utilized the services of my “watcher” to separate me from the voices in my head (the ego). My “watcher” took note of all that the voices were saying. “I don’t want to go. I’ll be too tired after work. I hate being around all those people I don’t know. I feel so awkward at those events.” When I stood my ground and proceeded towards going to the event, the voices became louder and meaner. They started talking about the other people who would be there, finding fault with them, calling them names and judging them. The voices took a different tact to get me not to go. They put others down so I could be better than them, put me in a higher place, and told me that I am above such foolishness. “I don’t need to hang out there. I am fine by myself. They have nothing to offer me.” Really? It never ceases to amaze me what my voices will say to prevent me from growing, to protect me from perceived danger. They are so good at it and they actually accomplished it for most of my life until I learned what was happening and how to overcome it. Have I perfected this? No, not quite, but I work on it regularly and each new situation gives me the opportunity to practice.
I was talking with a couple the other day who were telling me that they were going on a trip abroad next week. They were going to travel around and visit several different areas of the country over a three week period and they were looking forward to getting out and exploring the world. I mentioned how I have never had much desire to travel and they remarked how it must be nice to be content with being in one place. I have heard myself and others use the word “content” to describe me on other occasions. While I am happy with the basics, there is something within me that challenges that. Am I too comfy? If I stay in this comfy place, will I look back and regret that I didn’t choose to do anything different? I am not unhappy. It is easy to be here, but easy is not where growth occurs, so I am consciously choosing to try some new things. I want to see what will change in my life by doing things a little differently. I am aware of the areas that have been stagnant for some time and that is where I am going to start. A good tool for this is the Wheel of Life. It looks at the following areas: career, money, health, friends & family, significant other, personal growth, fun & recreation, and physical environment and asks you to rate them on a scale of 1-10. Draw the line representing the number for each area (1 being closest to the center, 10 being the outer line) across each section and see a picture of how balanced or unbalanced your wheel of life would look.
Try it for yourself. What areas of your life need a little work? Are you too comfortable in some areas? Has there been little or no growth? Could you be putting more effort there? I do this exercise once in a while to keep a check on things. Sometimes comfort is not comfortable at all, but it is easier to stay in an unhealthy place because it is what we know. Going to a new place can be very scary. Start with some small steps. You don’t need to go from A-Z. Try going from A-B and see where that takes you. Every step is important and will open new doors. Pretty soon your comfy place will look a little different. What are you willing to try this week? Step outside your zone. You will be amazed at what you can do.
Yours in transformation,