The Comfort Trap

By Sarah Petty L. Ac., Dipl. Ac. on November 26th, 2013 | Comments Off on The Comfort Trap



The way we respond to discomfort is crucial to our well-being. Most of us spend our lives reacting to situations. We have created a culture of people who are asleep at the wheel, going through the motions, veering and swerving, crashing and burning when we notice we are only inches away from collision. A lot of us are on automatic. Of course, if we slow down and are present, most accidents are avoidable. And yes, accidents do happen and we always have a choice for how we respond. How many of us truly feel we have a choice? How many of us have excuses for why we are not where we want to be in life? A lot of people have fought me, adamantly protesting that they are indeed victims of circumstance and that they have no choice in how they react to their own life. Is it any wonder that people are unsatisfied and feeling trapped when they are committed to denying their power and choice? When I dig into their motivations for such a choice, the core seems to be about comfort. Oh comfort, you Trojan horse. You siren song.


I say we have turned comfort into a form of avoidance. And aren’t we such an avoidance culture? Spending so much time on our devices and less and less time in nature and each other and virtually no time in quiet solitude. And haven’t we created a reward-filled world where creature comforts are more abundant than intimate connection? A culture that caters to consumers on a day of thanksgiving by luring them away from their families to shop earlier and earlier for the deepest discounts on stuff. What is the impulse to shop so much? What is the impulse now to grab our phones at every red light? What is the impulse that triggers us to go for the bag of chips or third cookie over the carrot stick and hummus? Or to zone out in front of the boob tube or YouTube? How have we become such incredible escape artists?  And what is the cost? What kind of reward takes more from someone than it promises? A moment of comfort in exchange for a poor self-image, guilt, self-loathing, more emptiness, more mass, more health problems, more pain, less life time?


Discomfort, on the other hand, can be an opportunity to show up fully and find out just how powerful and courageous we truly are. Sometimes our discomfort is coming from our gut instincts. When we listen, are we choosing to respond from a place of wisdom or fear? How will our actions reinforce or rewrite our life’s story? Sometimes, our discomfort is in response to feelings we find unpleasant. This sort of discomfort is not in response to any real threat. Actually, the only thing that is threatened by us not giving into these feelings of discomfort are our egos. Our egos don’t ever want us to change and grow and expand. Avoiding such discomfort will not only stunt our growth, but it will perpetuate our story that the emotions and circumstance are way more powerful than we are. When comfort becomes a habit, we weaken our perception of ourselves. We stop believing in ourselves. The words, “I can’t” become an integral part of our dialogue. Life becomes a struggle and we tend to stagnate. We get further and further away from our tao-our destiny. In fact, many people that give in to comfort stop believing that they are a unique being with their own purpose. They fall prey to frustration and despondency.


So what is to be done? Well, comfort is to be enjoyed. But like Dorothy, from the Wizard of OZ, who lost her way in the poppy field, where she felt stunning relief from a tough journey, she could not stay there long. Dorothy, like all of us, have a path to follow. The longer we stay in our comfort zones, the more likely we shorten our journey. Don’t arrive at the end of your time here, looking down at so much path untrodden, all because you chose comfort over adventure, growth, challenge, uncertainty. Comfort is not where our strength is found. Creativity and ingenuity are born out of response to a challenge or limitation. Do yourself a service and set comfort down sometime when you feel compelled to indulge in something that you know is ultimately not good for you. Instead, take an action step from a place of courage that is in alignment with what you want to create for yourself, even if discomfort creeps in. See what rewards come out of the action you take. You are likely to surprise yourself.

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