By Steve Seinberg
I’ve been doing a lot of self-help and transformation work in recent weeks. It’s tough stuff…but then again, if it was easy, we’d all have done it already, and the world would be a happier place, right?
Here’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve been learning:
No one ever grew inside their comfort zone.
If you want to really grow, and manifest some positive change in your life, you have to face the things that are hard, the things that push you and challenge you, the things that trigger you.
Like, for me, one of my triggers in this society is when people come at me out in public with obvious intent to interrupt my day so that they can push forward their own agendas. You know these people: they’re disadvantaged and have their hands out for money…or they’re on some mission that they want to enroll you into, and they approach bearing clipboards or reading materials for you to take on even though you never asked for these things.
These people always trigger me hard, and make me want to avoid contact with them and not engage. My internal response is actually out of proportion to what the situation really deserves, too…but while I realize this on the intellectual level, my emotional self has never really gotten that particular memo. I used to sometimes even go so far as to cross the street to avoid this type of contact if I was slogging through an especially bad mood when a person of this variety appeared up ahead in my path.
So here’s the big question that I recently decided to dig into:
Why was it so unbearable to have an encounter with someone barreling down on me with their own interests thrust out in my direction? It’s not like these people are armed or threatening, and to be honest, most of them aren’t usually even all that pushy or unpleasant. So why such ferocious inner resistance to them on my part?
I finally figured it out. It’s because I don’t like to say no to people. I would ideally wish for everyone to get what they want pretty much all the time (as long as these wants don’t involve nonconsensual harm to others, of course). So I resent being forced into a position of having to say no to someone. I can’t give money to everyone who wants it from me, and I can’t back every cause that somebody else might feel is important, so mathematically speaking, I have to say no to some of these people when I bump into them. There’s only so much of me to go around, and I have to be wise in how I dole out my energy.
But so the other day, I was going into a big chain store to pick up a couple of necessities, and an older gentleman pounced on me with his clipboard and his agenda. Instead of fleeing from him, though, I decided to venture out of my comfort zone…
I politely asked him what his cause was, how he came to be involved with it, and what he was actually asking of me.
He responded that he was volunteering for this group that was making yoga available to the homeless population of his LA neighborhood, and they were seeking donations. I decided – without my flight or resentment responses kicking in – that this cause sounded pretty worthy, and so I dug into my pocket freely and of my own volition because I wanted to, and I gave him a few bucks.
As I did this, the store’s security guard materialized and told the guy to basically beat it. As the man gently agreed to go, he handed me a book about yoga and a sticker of a peace sign, none of which I had expected. Peace is one of the pillars of existence that I believe we, as a society, are not spending enough of our energy on, and so these unexpected gifts felt like a small sign that my altered approach was very much on point, and worth repeating and cultivating.
So while it may be a strange and occasionally scary place, I’m committed to spending a lot more of my time in my personal Discomfort Zone. That way lies growth, positive change, and spirituality. Have you visited yours recently…?