Are you uncomfortably comfortable, or comfortably uncomfortable?
STRESS! ANXIETY! FEAR! What are they for? What’s the point! What do they do? What do they achieve?
In a dangerous situation, these emotions are useful for keeping us safe. But day to day in an environment that is (comparatively) benign, why do they keep cropping up?
We know what they do. They make us feel uncomfortable. We are nervous. Shy. Careful. Uncertain. Cautious.
What do they achieve? They narrow our world. Fear makes you focus on danger, shutting out the wider view. We overthink. We catastrophise. We withdraw.
What is the result? Well, perhaps we don’t go out. Perhaps we don’t risk our feelings. Perhaps we stay where we are in our job/relationship/life. For Anxiety this represents ‘Job Done’, after all, it has kept you safe. Safe and secure, boxed in; and miserable, and stuck….
(this is, of course, all part of your Attachment style’s desire to reinforce its world view. It wants you to stay where you are, and Anxiety is ‘playing to the gallery’ (i.e. you) on its behalf.)
You are uncomfortably comfortable.
So what is the alternative?
The alternative is to become comfortably uncomfortable. That means challenging (gently at first) your fear by doing something that makes you anxious. Doing this deliberately and consciously will tell yourself that you CAN elbow the sides of the box that you are in, making it a tiny bit bigger, and yet STILL FEEL RELATIVELY SAFE.
Phew. Now your world is a bit bigger, your focus a little less narrow. New possibilities come into view. Gradually you become more certain of yourself, more open, less cautious; bold even. OK, so you still feel scared. That’s fine. Acknowledge it but reassure yourself that you’ve got this and slowly the world opens up. If you keep being comfortably uncomfortable then you are on the right track!
Kevin Stevenson MSc
Kevin Stevenson is the practice manager at Evoke Therapy.