3 months sober, breaking out of the comfort zone

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Alfagador
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3 months sober, breaking out of the comfort zone

Hi guys,

December 9 marked my 3rd month of sobriety. I'm really happy about that milestone, and I feel like I've learned a lot since I've joined OLGA and began reflecting on my addiction. I realized that gaming had become a way of escaping my problems, an extreme form of procrastination, and procrastination was a way of escaping pain--the pain of boredom, the pain of working, the pain of taking care of a child, of being tired all the time, of contacting clients and building my business, of not living up to my potential, etc.

That got me thinking about a book I had read a few years ago, The Tools, by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels. The tools are basically a series of mental imagery that help you connect with what they call higher forces and summon courage, love, confidence or gratitude. One of them is called the Reversal of desire and really helps to break out of the comfort zone. I'll copy an article from Barry Michels on the subject below.

I'm doing better and better. I realize now that recovery won't be magical, it will take work and I may never be truly done with it. I take joy in every little victory over procrastination, every little act of courage I manage to accomplish. Slow and steady does it.

You know, this is gonna seem nuts, but in a weird way, I'm grateful for my addiction, because it forced me to confront my problems. Otherwise, I would just have kept on flip flopping and dodging pain and responsibility like I always did. Never thought I would be thankful for that!

Here is the article (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-tools/201205/the-comfort-zone):

The comfort zoneHiding in plain sight

By Barry Michels

One of the problems psychotherapists confront on a daily basis is how to get their patients to do things that would be good for them. Dieting, exercising, leaving a bad relationship, starting a new business - these are among the many things people commonly want to accomplish, but fail to take action on. We avoid these things because in one way or another, they all involve different types of pain. If you want to lose weight, you have to face the pain of depriving yourself of the foods you like. If you want to leave a relationship, you have to face the spectre of being alone. If you want to start a new business, you have to face the possibility that it may not succeed.

It wouldn't matter if we avoided these things once or twice a year. But for most of us, avoidance becomes a way of life. We barricade ourselves behind an invisible barrier and don't venture out because beyond the wall is pain. This safe space Phil and I call the "Comfort Zone." In the most extreme cases, people actually hide behind the walls of their home. But for most of us, the Comfort Zone isn't a physical space, it's a way of life that avoids anything that might be painful.

To make this personal to you, try this exercise: Close your eyes. Think of something you chronically avoid doing--whether it's meeting new people, balancing your check book, or having a difficult conversation. How do you organize your life to avoid doing it? Imagine that pattern of avoidance is actually a place you hide in. That's your Comfort Zone. What does it feel like?

It probably felt like a safe and familiar place, free of the pain that the world brings with it. But the exercise leaves out one ingredient that's also part of most people's Comfort Zone. Merely escaping pain isn't enough for us. We insist that the pain be replaced with pleasure. We do this with an endless array of addictive activities. Examples include internet surfing, drugs and alcohol, pornography, the aptly named "comfort food." Even gambling and shopping are pleasures of a sort. All these behaviors are widespread--our entire culture is looking for a Comfort Zone.

You can't fight such a strong, irrational fear with rational thinking--it's too weak. Instead, you need a force. In this case, it's called the "Force of Forward Motion" and we'll talk about it in the next blog.

It's important that patients understand the terrible cost of the Comfort Zone. But as a psychotherapist, I've found that this information, by itself, isn't enough to get people to change. The reason is that information works on the level of rational thinking. But the part of us that avoids pain is completely irrational. It lives in a primitive, unconscious world where all pain--even pain that would be good for us--triggers the same fear: "I'm going to die!" It clings to the Comfort Zone as if its life depended on it.

Whatever your Comfort Zone consists of, you pay a huge price for it. Life provides incredible possibilities, but you can't take advantage of them without facing pain. If you can't tolerate pain, you can't be fully alive. There are many examples of this. If you're shy and avoid people, you lose the vitality that comes with a sense of community. If you're creative but can't tolerate criticism, you'll never reach people who could appreciate (and fund) your work. If you're a leader and can't confront or set limits with people, no one will follow you. By staying in the Comfort Zone you end up relinquishing your most cherished dreams and aspirations. Oliver Wendell Holmes in "The Voiceless" put it best: "Alas for those that never sing, / But die with all their music in them."

vesalian.prime
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Inspiring quote. I recognize

Inspiring quote. I recognize myself 100% in the pain avoidance / pleasure seeking habit. Even pain can be comforting, when it is known and has been with you for most of your life. I am afraid of success as well as failure because both will draw me out of my comfort zone.

Congratulations with your 3 months !

Perhaps a man who is worthy of the name should put aside this question of how long he will live ..., and turn his attention to this instead, to how he can live the best life possible in the time that is granted to him
Marcus Aurelius

Reddog
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Grats on 3 months! Thanks

Grats on 3 months! Thanks for sharing that. I related a lot to that.

"Yesterday is History, Tomorrow a Mystery, Today is a Gift, Thats why it's called the Present"

Alfagador
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Thanks for the good words

Thanks for the good words guys, I'm happy you got something out of the article!

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