I had a freeze frame moment as I drove to pick up Lauren and her friend when they came home from college for Fall Break a few weeks ago. The chills rose on my arms as I realized that so much of my life feels like it did 20 plus years ago when I would drive myself home from college. My thoughts would wander, my eyes were open to possibilities and ideas of what the future would look like, and I had so much gratitude for what I had been given to me over the course of my life. I feel all of those things today and, through the conversations I get to have with her, I know she does too…but now I have four kids to teach and bring along with me on this journey.
The more I put my story out there, so many of my conversations with other people center around finding the energy to start over and find confidence. For all of my talk about embracing pain and building resilience, this week I’m thinking that comfort zones have gotten a bad rap and serve a purpose in helping us sustain our energy. Yes, I believe in challenging new territory and ways to grow, breaking old patterns, and charging forward despite fear. But what of the other side of comfort, the kind we feel when we find ourselves in our sweet spot, the kind that rests easy in solitude, or quiet, or even on a stage in front of people because we are right where we are supposed to be, doing exactly what we should be doing? I have felt all of those moments and also realize how my insides still fight against them sometimes based on old patterns. I am teaching myself how to ease the tension and feel the calm in every moment…a lofty goal given my historically nervous nature.
How do we tell the difference between lazy comfort that keeps our life small, and the ease we feel when we find ourselves in alignment? When we do find that moment, how do we stop ourselves from looking for what’s wrong, because old patterns have told us that comfort or calm is boring or not worthy, and our subconscious is actually seeking that old tension. I’m staring down the fact that there doesn’t need to be electricity in every moment to make me feel alive.
The ease of the present moment is not a lazy shortcut, it comes when we do the work to know ourselves, our inherent worth, and then have the courage to trust that feeling above any of the other noise out there. Real comfort is found when we learn to trust the moment above the expectation of the long term plan.
Then we can let each moment of alignment build on itself and we find our real comfort zone. We can embrace what makes us happy, grow our knowledge in that space, and then use it to help other people. From this place we can gently sustain growth, follow our own intrinsically motivated path, and feel the calm from the inside out. Small habits add up to bigger moments of success, today I trust myself that I will stay with the building blocks, even on the days that I don’t feel like it, and my confidence is built from there. The less our mood has an effect on the course of our day, the more stable and productive we become and alignment follows.
One thing I have both felt myself and realized that others struggle with is forgiving ourselves. We can never find our comfort zone from a place of denial or shame. I’ve said it before, healing is an inside job, it requires us embrace and make peace with our past missteps, and, when we do, those struggles become the steps that move us forward on our path. Whatever the struggle, a failed marriage, a DUI, an addiction that we haven’t been able to kick, the human list goes on and on, until we own it, and view it as a stepping stone instead of a road block to our future, there is no comfort zone, only numbing or running away. When we are in this space, trying to forgive ourselves, one of the hardest things to do is quiet the outside voices and opinions so you can let go of the shame. People will talk, no matter what you are doing, so don’t let those voices keep you from finding the comfort in your own skin. It’s your story, let them fight their own battles, and keep your mind focused on yours. No one knows the battles you have fought and their judgment and words have everything to do with their own battle and nothing to do with yours. If we don’t find our own peace, we won’t be able to stop repeating the pattern and our self confidence takes a definite hit.
Bottom line, nobody’s opinion of you matters more than the one you hold of yourself. So work on that and forget the rest.
Today I know that the best life has a safe space with a supportive circle…but that starts from the calm we create in ourselves. It’s never too late to start supporting this space within yourself. Slow down, trust yourself, do the work, and embrace the comfort that comes with the alignment that is found when we learn that the greatest success comes when we create our own comfort zone.