Friday, January 20, 2012

Welcome to the Discomfort Zone

"Yes is how you get your first job, and your next job, and your spouse, and even your kids. Even if it's a bit edgy, a bit out of your comfort zone, saying yes means that you will do something new, meet someone new and make a difference."~Eric Schmidt
My preferred way of meditating.
In the past month and a half I have gone into a deep meditation.  Okay snickering friends keep going. I'm sure the last thing you can imagine is me sitting in some hardcore lotus position with my eyes closed chanting 'Om.'  Truly, I'm a back burner type of meditator.  I'm jumping around and tutting to some crazy dubstep by Skrillex while in the deep recesses of my mind I am contemplating 'improper humility' and 'gaslighting.'  It's these two topics mixed plus a brief conversation with Hip Hop master Jeremy Knusten that led to a sudden change in my life.  One that has me in the throws of the Discomfort Zone.

Jeremy is very vocal about a philosophy I live by haphazardly:  "Always challenge yourself.  Never let yourself get to comfortable.  If you're comfortable, force yourself to a higher level."  I have a rather reckless personality that responds to challenges.  Some of these challenges are positive: dancing on pointe,  programming a website in a different language, or saving money.  Some challenges are negative:  interpersonal office politics, perfectionism, or attention-seeking behavior.  In the past month I've thought about the challenges in my life, my responses, and the reasons behind those responses.  Pretty much it boils down to two things: 1) Years of improper humility and 2) responding to button-pushers.

Here is how it plays out:
  1.  I feel happy with myself and begin to focus on creating more good things in my life.
  2.  Someone who feels they are more important than me (this would be the button-pusher) does something that implies that I am not worthy of my accomplishments.  The most popular action is to ignore me when I'm in the room or talking.  The second most popular action is instigate rude behavior in my "friends."  The third most popular action is to discount anything I said as 'crazy' or 'stupid.'
  3.  I would then feel bad because improper humility taught me I am not as good as other people.
  4. I try to prove to said button-pusher that I deserve the accolades I have earned.  
 So instead on building my self-esteem, I am placating the button-pusher's ego.

This contemplation crystallized after Jeremy arrived in Fairbanks.  Now you might be thinking "What?!  Responding to button-pushers is a comfort zone?!"  Yes, the predictable pattern is a comfort zone.  I know the outcome even before the process begins.  After talking with Jeremy I rose to the discomfort zone challenge reflexively.  I axed several unhealthy relationships.  I monitored my emotional eating.  I allowed myself to be happy with my accomplishments despite what others said.   A week into it and I'm still a bit shaky.  I no longer know the outcome. I'm suddenly blindsided by people's reactions.  A part of me feels vulnerable--that happy part I've searched so long for.  There are positives too.  I've danced harder than I have in years.  I'm less worried about making mistakes because in the discomfort zone mistakes are encouraged since you really have no idea what's going on!

So I'm kinda glad I said 'screw it' to the New Year's resolutions.  They would have been based on my old working model in the comfort zone.  This year it's about finding my place in the discomfort zone-- at least for a little while.

1 comment:

Thomas Korn said...

I've been living in the discomfort zone 48 years now... :P