Lessons from My Dogs: Trapped in Your Comfort Zone?

The Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend, I got a text while working that my 10-year old Shih Tzu dog Chelsea was at the Emergency Veterinary Hospital. She had gotten trapped under a reclining lift chair and was inadvertently squeezed between the cross bars and bottom of the chair, resulting in a traumatic spinal injury. The good news is that she did not sever her spine or need surgery. She did have internal muscle bleeding and trouble using her hind legs. She was discharged with three pain medications and crate rest for the entire Holiday weekend. We canceled our travel plans and decided we could all use some rest at home.

I am sharing this story with you because of a larger lesson I see in it. Chelsea loves sleeping under chairs. She likes to be close to people and will often sleep at your feet, preferably under the chair you are in or as close to it as possible. This is true for dining room chairs, deck chairs, and yes, even reclining chairs. What makes this behavior potentially dangerous for Chelsea is that she can’t see when she is putting herself in danger of being trapped by her instinctual need for comfort.

We all have a comfort zone and stay in that space by habitually doing the same things over, and over, and over again – even when we know we have outgrown them or that they are not serving us anymore. We may know intellectually that we are at risk by this behavior, which could be anything from poor eating habits and no exercising, to staying in dead-end jobs or relationships. Essentially it is any behavior we are tolerating as good enough that is really hurting us.

We may not realize that we have trapped ourselves under the proverbial recliner until we find ourselves with emotional or physical pain or illness. We may have impaired our ability to balance ourselves, walk forward, or even stand up. We may need surgery, we may take pain medication, or find other ways to numb ourselves. We may find ourselves in a crate of our own making, walled in with a comfortable place to sleep, with food and water, but no place to move around, much less to move forward.

I invite you to consider what your comfort zone is, and how it could potentially limit you.  What habits do you have that keep you in it, and what risks are you taking by continuing to do them? Comfort food? Alcohol or other drugs? Too much or too little exercise? Not expressing emotions? Stuffing feelings?

What is one small change you could make to step outside that comfort zone and create a new consciously healthy habit?

I invite you to share one comfort zone habit you would like to break in the comments below.

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