Thursday, 2 October 2008

Comfort zones... the saga continues

I stumbled across a scribbled note today from a podcast that I heard about Abraham Joshua Heschel, in which Krista Tippett talked about his “prophetic inclination to mistrust whatever the comfort zone is”. Given my endlessly restless nature, I like this!

But it also reminded me that I had some unfinished business with comfort zones (previous entries
here and here). When I wrote my last entries, I had been doodling on the whiteboard in my office at work. I’ve tidied the doodle up - a wee bit - and come up with this diagram (I don't know how to make it any bigger!).

Of course, our individual personalities and attitudes will determine how quickly we move from one zone to the next – and I guess that some people bypass discomfort and go straight to dysfunctional as soon as there is any change or stress. Additionally, if we are facing multiple stressors, the nature of our stress changes more rapidly, so that we can become distressed as soon as we are moved out of our comfort zone by the ‘straw that breaks the camel’s back’.

By nature, I am suspicious of comfort zones – they’re not areas of growth or development – but I do realise that they play a vital role in establishing equilibrium after a change has occurred. This resonates with this quotation, which I came across recently:

“Any form of stress that prompts discomfort had the potential to expand our capacity – physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually – so long as it is followed by adequate recovery.”
Loehr and Schwartz from The Power of Full Engagement.

The problem, for me, is that many people and organisations like to stay in that ‘maintenance mode’ for the long-term, resisting change and shrinking defensively deeper into the comfort zone. Maybe I’m just too restless… but I’m delighted to be in some small way in the company of Heschel!!

Maybe the saga concludes here, but you never know...


Tracy said...

I like your quote from Loehr and Schwartz about stress that produces discomfort has the potential to expand our capacity. I think many encourage their selves with that thought when going through trying times.

But, as your diagram also shows, there is some need for time within comfort to stabilize and build up, to ready oneself for the next battle so to speak.

His Girl Friday said...

Hi ER,
interesting. You and TB run along the same lines with your thoughts here. Some of this is what TB uses to promote positive change in wayward youth....out of comfort zone, disequilibrium-discomfort, growth/positive change (simplfied-ly said, but similiar)

When stress becomes too much, we revert back to the lower realm of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. I'll let ya google Maslow, ahm aff tae ma tea! :)