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Can you smell burning yet?

When the comfort zone needs to change.

I'm often reminded of a story I heard many years ago told to me by an old guy who I used to talk to on the way home from work.

Back then, at 16-17 years old I would walk past the old man and over some time, the acknowledging head nods, and the occasional hello led to a friendship which gave me so much insight into human behaviour, along with a wealth of  wisdom  which he shared with me on those early evenings before I arrived home.

I found myself looking forward to sitting and talking to the old man, I often listened to him for hours at a time. I believe those hours, gave me years of learning, I was given wisdom, knowledge, understanding and a view of the world which if not changed my life, changed the direction I wanted to live it.

Monty, the old guy would warmly greet me, and I like to think mutual respect grew between us. 

Picture of coal fire

The story he told me was one of an old dog, who was laid by the fire in the cosy home in which he lived.

The dog was moaning, as if in pain or distress. The cat who lived in the same household sauntered over to the dog, and asked – "what are you moaning about dog"?, continuing his pained groans the dog replied, "that he was too hot"!. The cat disbelieving his ears replied in a matter of fact way, "then simply move"!. "Oh but I am so comfortable where I am said the dog, but I am getting too hot by this fire"!

"Then move", hissed the cat loudly, "move somewhere else and you will feel better"!
"Oh no" replied the dog, "I don’t want to move anywhere else".  "Then that, is your choice replied" the cat, as he slinked away looking for a comfortable place to lay himself down.

"Anyway", barked the dog, "it isn't too bad, I'm not burning yet"! The cat shook his head, and without looking back left the room quietly to find his own little haven.

This story came to mind as I was speaking to a potential client a few years ago. We had met about 18 months previously, we'd had the initial consultation, just as we were doing again, discussing his problem and the way forward.

At the time he decided he was going to leave working with me for a future time, he had to discuss it with his wife before he decided. This I suspected was code that there was something either we had missed, or something he had not told me about.  This time, however he was more open, the thought of changing things frightened him he said.

I see this often with people, they will ask me about my services or my IBS Audio Program 100 or any of my other health focused audio programs and they consider it, and they consider it some more, they nearly commit, but pull back, they return again, look some more, almost reach out and take action but pull away at the last moment again, and return to their safe place. 

The desire for change is not as strong as the desire to remain in their comfort zone, which in fact ceased to be a comfort zone a long time ago in the true sense of the term - but they have yet to recognize it!

They imagine how life might feel after we have worked together or when they have listened to one of my health programs, they get brave, stoic, resolute but each time they pull back just before the time to commit, the desire for change is not as strong as the desire to remain in their comfort zone, which in fact ceased to be a comfort zone a long time ago in the true sense of the term. 

It might not be a comfortable place but it is a familiar place. However in time, the pain, the problem, and the worry will get worse and more painful until eventually, they have to move, whether they like it or not, the comfort zone is no longer comfortable or familiar, and change is now forced upon them.

Like the dog in the story above, it wouldn’t move until it was burning then it had to move. They have to move when they are motivated to move - often through pain or discomfort, rather than the preferred desire for something better.

The motivation to change and do something different is often sabotaged by the reluctance to move out of their 'comfort zone', but the problem with that is they aren't learning or moving forward, in this case, the comfort turns to stagnation.

This behaviour is not unusual, it is just about being human.

Change is scary at times, but I often ask my clients, which is scarier, living a life of pain, worry or dread, or making a choice to change and to learn something new, to learn to be in a better place and create a different comfort zone. I guess both are as scary as each other - but one has the possibility of new beginnings, with something better on the horizon - the other one doesn't.

My potential client acknowledged he didn’t like the idea of change, a change took effort and time, and it was an unknown. I re-assured him, he was right of course.

We all feel that way at times, but I also reminded him that life is about changing and learning to be and do more. Getting the courage to change, when emotionally and physically you feel drained, is a big ask!

But it is much better to change willingly, with guidance and reassurance, than it is to have circumstances force you to change, then you have no option, you have to find the energy and the time to do something different, so why not do it of your own free will when usually there are more options of choice available?

The journey of change into a new familiar comfort zone is far easier when doing it voluntarily, than having change forced on you.
My potential client decided he was determined to go ahead, he became my client and we started working together.

After a couple of sessions, he wept – nothing too unusual in my line of work. He said" he was already feeling better, he wasn’t weeping because of anything negative", he shared that he then realized how much pain and distress he had been in, how much worry he put his family through, all because he was afraid and uncertain, and thinking he could resolve things himself.



He mentioned how many times he had nearly reached out, only to pull back. Only now, realizing that he could have taken action sooner. He could have been braver, more decisive. Why didn’t he just reach out?



I stopped him from beating himself up, it only wastes energy! The reality was, that he could see things more clearly because he was in a different time and space than he was before he decided to do something different.

He is now looking back to where he was. He now had the benefit of experience, knowledge and understanding that he didn’t have back then when he was in the thick of things.

He had his light-bulb moment at that point. He now knows that he is not only responsible for the things he does, but also for the things he doesn’t do.

Ultimately, we all live our lives the best we can, but sometimes our hesitancy gets in the way of living life better.

I imagine the dog will move once he begins to burn, but he should have thought a little about the advice of the cat because ultimately, if we don’t choose to move on in life, life has a way of making us move, and that is often a much more painful lesson.

So whether you are considering the IBS Audio Program 100, Our Anxiety, Stress, Insomnia, Osteoarthritis, Confidence & Self-Esteem Program or any of our other programs, just remember, the sooner you act and do something different, the sooner you enter your new comfort-zone  

The sooner we move, the less time we waste, and the fewer regrets we have when we look back.      See our best selling programs here.

Other blogs you might be interested in 

Imagine taming IBS - Just Imagine!

Three things that can delay IBS recovery, and what you can do about them

 

Cat comfortable
Michael is the author of all our health related audio program, including the acclaimed IBS Audio Program 100.

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