About two years ago my friends and I thought it would be good idea to take up indoor rock climbing. If any of you have ever engaged in anything of the sort you are familiar with the harness that you are required to wear. It is the most unflattering contraption known to man since chunky highlights, frosted tips, and ribbed turtlenecks (which I think are making a comeback?). Not to mention, they are as uncomfortable as you were when watching Miley host the VMAs three years ago.
What is the point in wearing these? And why did I agree to wear one if I didn’t like the feeling I had when I put it on? The answer is pretty simple: They provide safety.
I am a firm promoter of the idea that without struggle in the pursuit there is little lasting opportunity for growth. However, I also am a creature of habit and used to love my daily routine and schedule, I felt very safe in what I knew to be my life. . Thus, about a year ago, I found myself at a stiff standstill. I felt “ok” but nothing was really moving forward or “happening” for me. Recently, I have begun to identify what it was that kept me stuck within myself in that “safe” place.
My idea of being safe was directly connected to my comfort level.
If I feel in control, sane, and at ease then I am safe and I am ok.
If I feel out of control (as in not in charge) and something “feels” different then I am unsafe and not ok.
Feeling out of control is scary for most people- we feel fear when we are in this place. Most people also run away from feeling fear.
So, this makes logical sense. Nevertheless, it is not reality; you are not always unsafe when you are not in control. I am not sure when my emotional comfort level became the thermometer for my safety- but it wasn’t helping me reach any of my goals (other than re-watching all 6 seasons of Gossip Girl).
And then I came to know that when trauma happens of any sort our bodies feel the emotion of fear and our minds hear the message “UNSAFE.” Thus, many of us continue to confuse these messages later in life. Anytime there is the emotional response of fear- we feel unsafe. The only way to disprove this myth we have created is to move through discomfort and literally come out the other side alive.
If being uncomfortable is scary and provokes the emotional response of fear than that means we will feel unsafe when we are uncomfortable- until we allow ourselves to sit and listen to what our fear is actually saying.
The truth is, we have been in a lot of places and spaces where we have not felt comfortable yet were completely safe. If we avoid all of those experiences we would really lose out on what we were created to be and experience.
We also have probably had plenty of experiences where we have felt comfortable but were not really safe.
Wearing a harness and climbing up a wall is not comfortable- but it is safe. Not wearing a harness is much more comfortable and much more unsafe.
Fear is not the bad guy. Fear allows so much opportunity for us- it creates excitement, it allows us to feel accomplished and it also tells us when something is important to us.
Safety has ultimatley become this skewed idea that results in stagnation in our unhealthy desires and beliefs.
Our longing to go out and do big things becomes stunted by fear of vulnerability, being seen, and most of all being uncomfortable.
We have identified that to accomplish many things worth working towards we must move through struggle and discomfort.
At the same time the fear of rejection and loss hold a lot of us captive from reaching the end zones of our goals.
The truth is- our own gages for our fight, flight, and freeze responses could be working against us. I most certainly feel motivated to flee any situation that appears less than cozy AND at the same time I am learning to be ok with not knowing the ending.
I want to encourage us all to put on the harnesses we have in our lives. Yes- maybe they feel awkward and look a little funny on us- but so does courage sometimes.
If I have learned anything in the past year it is that my authentic personal safety means I have to move through spaces where I don’t know what the ending is going to look like. And when it really comes down to it- it is a lot more comfortable to be caught by your harness than the concrete.
Do not miss your permanent miracle because of your temporary discomfort.