This year, I notice I’m thinking about comfort.
It seems there was a theme this year of my clients realizing that it was okay to allow themselves comfort.
That comfort did not have to be used as a reward, for when they were done with “the hard work” — it did not have to be dangled as a carrot to be consumed at the end of a lot of toil.
Comfort — amazingly! — could actually be part of the process.
I think I’ve written here before that “break out of your comfort zone” is not one of my favorite phrases. I’ve just never found it inspiring (though I totally get the meaning behind it).
There are a couple of reasons I dislike this saying. One of them is that I’ve seen many people — including myself — push themselves way too far out of their so-called “comfort zones”, to the point of having panic attacks, meltdowns, even breaking bones or pushing themselves through illness to try to compete in some way.
The other is that it indicates that being “comfortable” is somehow bad or wrong or self-indulgent. But for those of us who, perhaps, grew up without an adequate feeling of comfort and/or safety in our lives, this is inaccurate.
As I’ve written before, if you have a tendency to push yourself really hard (as most of my clients do), you probably need more comfort, not more withholding comfort from yourself.
And is it true that adding comfort to your “hard work” will keep you from getting it done?
Here’s what some of my clients found this year:
• The client who rewarded himself for completing his work on his writing project by taking his dog for a walk discovered that when he took his dog for a walk before he started writing, it actually helped him write better. He felt more centered and more creative. His body felt better because he’d moved it before sitting down (and his dog slept through the writing period rather than reminding him that it was time to go out!).
• The client who rewarded herself with a hot cup of tea after getting through a challenging weekly meeting found that allowing herself the tea during the meeting actually reminded her it was okay to show up as herself and be gentler with herself (and that warmth was an important thing to focus on when the “tough stuff” in these meetings arose!).
• The client who had recently left a long-term relationship found that allowing herself to stay home on the weekends wrapped in a blanket on the couch and watching Netflix was helping her grief process a lot more than “being productive” on the weekends (which was her usual approach!).
When we allow ourselves comfort, we are also choosing to trust ourselves, and to trust the process of life.
When I work with people who are in the midst of major transitions in their lives, 99.9 percent of the time they say that they just want to be out of the transition and that they are “moving too slowly” and that they need me to help them hurry up.
And I always say exactly what they think they don’t want to hear (but that brings some part of them deep relief): When we’re in a stressful transition, it’s helpful to allow ourselves to go slow. It’s not the time to make big moves and it’s definitely not the time to “break out of our comfort zone”.
In fact, we’re in transition because either we’ve chosen to leave the known and familiar behind — or because it’s been ripped away from us (and we had no choice in the matter).
What I have continually found in my own life is that when I’m in the midst of something really hard and I finally surrender to the fact that it is hard, and I can’t go as fast as I’d like because there is so much internal and external stuff to work through — when I accept that this is where I am and actually allow myself some comfort, that is exactly when things begin to transform. It’s exactly when I begin to relax into the new “me” I’m becoming.
But as long as I’m fighting things and trying to “tough my way through” what’s already hard, I am not allowing the space (or the comfort) to relax enough to welcome the new.
I’ve also noticed (as I wrote about here) that when I allow more softness into a task or a journey that feels hard, I do not become an overindulged mess. I actually feel far more capable, confident, and I enjoy what I’m doing a heck of a lot more.
I invite you to test this out for yourself. Where can you allow yourself a little more comfort? What happens when you do? I’d love to hear from you.
Speaking of transitions, the deadline to sign up for one of my specially-priced Autumn Transition Coaching Sessions is Wednesday, November 22. If you’re in an “in-between” place (with your creative work, a relationship, or some other aspect of your life) this fall and needing some support, I’d love to help. You can learn more about my Autumn Transition Sessions here.