In search of the comfort zone

I’ve learned a lot this weekend. I have learned that I am not an infinite resource. This may sound blindingly obvious. Intellectually I know I’m not an infinite resource, but nonetheless I’ve spent most of my life acting like I can push and run and whatnot indefinitely. I really, really can’t.

I’ve spent a lot of the last few days lying down. Which of course isn’t productive! It’s clearly time for a radical rethink. At the top of the list is ‘more rest’. We have some new household rules. No one starts work before eight in the morning, and no one works after 8 at night (unless they’re excited about something and need to follow the inspiration). There will be other reshuffles to the day.

I need to tackle the underlying thinking. I need to stop treating effort like virtue, especially when the effort is impacting on my health. I recognise that I am someone whose identity is deeply tied up in ‘doing’ and I am not going to take myself apart to change that – it would not, I feel, be good for me. However, I can re-think ‘doing’. Taking care of my body counts as ‘doing’. Feeding my imagination can go on the ‘doing’ list and so can investing time in my marriage. Meditation is ‘doing’.

I realise that my ‘doing’ has been too much about appeasing an observer. This is not irrational, but there’s no one watching me now who will criticise me. I don’t have to keep appeasing the people who expected me to look busy. Much of the stuff I really need to be ‘doing’ doesn’t look busy from the outside, but it’s no less valuable. No one else has to see it.

The most productive things happen at the margins. The edge of the comfort zone is the best place for innovation. I need to backtrack and find it. I realise I’ve spent a lot of years mostly outside my comfort zone, and that’s no more productive a place than always playing it safe. I end up too afraid and too tired to be creative, and that’s not clever. So in the short term, I will be pulling back (perhaps not visibly) to find my comfort zone, and to get comfortable in it, so that I can go out to the edges from there in a hopefully more meaningful and sustainable sort of way.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

9 responses to “In search of the comfort zone

  • angharadlois

    Very insightful, especially the bit about re-thinking ‘doing’. Last weekend I spent the whole of Sunday in bed. I read quite a bit, and did some cataloguing work on my laptop, but I stayed in a wonderfully horizontal position, curled up under the warm covers. In the past, I’d been scared to give myself rest – scared that I’d always need more than I could get, that if I stopped I might not be able to start again, and that giving in to my tiredness meant I’d never get anything done.

    That actually sounds really silly, written out in black and white.

    Anyway, that Sunday, I chose to trust that resting was a good thing to do, and that I would be able to get back up again, and feel a bit better for having rested. And, you know, it worked!

    Rest well.

  • Ella Wherry

    So true. So wonderful that you have come to the understanding! I too, went through a huge push, push, push to be productive, to be able to list my achievements at the end of the day….to feel worthy. Of what? Then the pushing became sacrifice, then martyrdom to feed an ego out of whack and…then, I broke. I collapsed on my first vacation in six years..into ICU for 3 days! More health issues, surgery a year later to remove a tumor in my throat causing by a huge endocrine imbalance. I can clearly see that I needed to stretch my spiritual muscles, find my balance again…and my voice. I drew lines in the sand, and am stopped imagining that there is someone over my shoulder with some clipboard, ticking off accomplishments, measuring my worth. I find now that when I do things, I am more present to the moment and when Aware, am more in the flow so that everything is easier as well. It was an adjustment, so be gentle with yourself!

    • Nimue Brown

      I have to say that it was hearing other stories like yours that has made me take the warning signs seriously, and I’m very grateful for the people who’ve shared and given me chance to pull back from the edge.

      • Ella Wherry

        It does compel me to ask who made up these rule, these concepts where we are not worthy or valuable unless we are ‘doing’ something..particularly something realted to money? It was a surprise to me to awake from the dream and know that the only thing we are here to do is to be a Witness for the Creator. To make choices, day by day and then to have those experiences and remember them and bring them back when we leave this place. Suddenly it seemed to me that being a good Witness means taking time to observe, to feel to ponder, to ruminate to reflect. As a poet or writer or artist or musician, that is the digging deep, the fodder for the grist, the creative wellspring. What we have been taught is the exact opposite of what it means to really be successful. For once you begin the path as a witness, all materialism, the drive for money and outward success just seems to dissipate…and there is a freedom to be found there. I like to think of myself as Dorothy and the bucket of water has been thrown on the wicked witch, the system….and it just melts away. I hope you find your bucket of water!

      • Blodeuwedd

        Thank you for this, ‘Bearing witness’ is an idea that I am playing with a great deal at the moment. There is much to think about here.

      • Nimue Brown

        I really like this line of thought, thank you for sharing it.

      • Ella Wherry

        So happy. You know, if I lived in the land of my ancestors, which is Scotland, I would likely catch a train to meet you for a cup of coffee! I think we could have grand exchanges! I don’t recall how I even found your blog…but often find that you have an assortment of camels and we are all looking for the sacred wellspring. It is always a delight to find you in my in box. 🙂

      • Nimue Brown

        Thank you! And yes if you were in viable visiting distance I would be totally up for that.

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