Comfort as Defeat: A Wake-Up Call.
I never learned how to ride a bike. My parents made a valiant effort, to no avail. Stabilizers were fine; my balance was not thrown off, but I did not want stabilizers.
I wanted to ride on two wheels, like everyone else. I even fell off a triciycle when my parents got me one. So what did I do? Did I get up, brush myself off, and climb back into the saddle? No. I gave up.
For me, giving up has become a prickly subject of intense shame. Each time I was faced with a new challenge, I retreated inside my mental pillow fort, grabbed the imaginary remote, and switched over to the same comforting, limiting thoughts.
Without fail, that would look something like this: a scary thing would arise. I would attempt to ignore it by burying my head beneath a big fluffy mental duvet. I would repeat to myself, over and over, things like, ‘It’s just not for me’, ‘I’d be rubbish at that’, or simply, ‘I can’t.’
If I repeated these words often enough, the scary things would go away. Therefore, my brain was protecting itself, right? Protecting me from pain, hurt, humiliation and failure? A noble goal, right?
Nope, my brain was protecting itself from growth! Growth is a great, essential thing. We need it. My mental pillow fort was suffocating it to death. Though it is undoubtedly a good thing, growth can also be extremely painful. It may not feel like growth at all, in fact. I cannot count the number of times I stormed and raged against pain, only to discover later that I had learned an invaluable lesson.
Recently, I engaged in a morning of telephony skills. I was given a scenario and had to glean information in order to make a restaurant booking. I walked over to my assigned phone and sat in front of it. Gradually, I felt panic constrict my throat. I began to cry.
I left the room for a few minutes, and returned free from panic but consumed with hot anger that I had let myself be overwhelmed like that, over a phone. I insisted on doing the next two exercises and got great feedback. So while I was uncomfortable, I grew.
I acknowledged at that point that comfort is easy. The pillow fort is always there to retreat to, should I wish it. This time, when I didn’t choose comfort (when I didn’t choose defeat), I felt proud. Giving up giving up is difficult. I’m making progress. I hope you can choose growth as well. I believe that to live well, we must always move forward.
Looking back should be a tool for us — acknowledgement of where we have been, the mistakes we’ve made, and how we’ve changed as a result of the lessons we’ve learned.
Going forward, may I choose the path of growth, the wild, tangled forest path, over comfort and the suffocation of blank mental pillows. I hope you’ll come with me, brave one.
Let’s see how we go, shall we?
Josephine Hicks is a poet living her best life and listening to the call of the Universe for her purpose. She longs for a questing existence. Challenge is something she embraces (after digging her heels in a little…) and she is a fighter at heart. She loves love. Unable to settle for long, she is an adventurer. She wants to honor those who are the best at what they do. Fearlessness is her aspiration, and nature is her teacher. You could contact her via her website.