I have been recently talking to a friend of mine and we were discussing our difficult relationships from the past. One thing that got to the surface almost immediately was how we get stuck in a negative comfort zone without realizing it.
Sometimes relationship just doesn’t work, but we are so determined to make it work, to fix it, to fight for it, that we wind up frustrated, unhappy, but stuck in this relationship, which we know is not good for us. Yet, we still hope for a turnaround, because we invested so much effort into it and because we know it so well. So even though it is negative, it is still a comfort zone.
Of course this negative comfort zone can exist in other areas of your life – you can be stuck at the job you don’t like, but scared to leave, or in a city, which doesn’t suit you, but you don’t want to risk changing.
And while positive comfort zones don’t damage you (they just undermine your growth), being in a negative comfort zone drains you very quickly. Well, good news is that it is much easier to leave a negative comfort zone, because you are obviously more motivated to do so.
But first you need to realize that you are in one. Interestingly enough, in case of relationships it can be very difficult to notice your negative comfort zone. Very often we are so protective of the true nature of our personal life, that we hide it even from ourselves.
We conveniently ignore the signals to let go and move on, covering it up by “being loyal” and “sticking through the hard times no matter what”, making ourselves a sacrificing hero in our own eyes. When others are asking us why we are holding on to someone who evidently hurts us, our answer is simple and all-explaining – “I love him”.
And here is a reason why talking with friends about this is not usually helping the situation. When you say “I love this person/job opportunity/lifestyle” etc, many will not question it further. Love is all-explaining, all-forgiving and worthy of a struggle in most people’s eyes. And that is why we are using “love” as a shield to cover our fear and weakness.
But if you have an older and wiser friend who starts questioning you beyond this point, things will get more interesting and revealing. When you are stuck in a negative comfort zone, you really can’t explain WHY you love this person, or this zone.
When someone used to ask me this question about my husband, I would find this almost offensive. Wasn’t love enough to be with the person who hurts and doesn’t appreciate you? I struggled to answer why exactly I love him and was telling to myself that love doesn’t need reasons.
Only later on I realized that when you are in a healthy relationship and you love your partner, answering the question of “Why you love him?” is very easy and natural, as you have a huge list of all good things that you can say about this person and what they do for you.
So the first biggest step of getting out of your negative comfort zone is actually questioning yourself really openly and honestly about how happy you are in this situation.
We may tend to sacrifice our happiness for something that we think is bigger and more important. If you know that you are unhappy, but you have a “valid” excuse for staying this way – you are most likely in a negative comfort zone. What is your benefit of staying there and what is your fear?
It’s not going to be simple to answer these questions, because, most likely, if you are in this negative zone, your mind will throw you some superficial answers first, to cover your pain points. It took me 3 years to finally face my true answers to these questions, but once I did, letting go and moving on to a better place was much faster and easier.
Once you suspect that you could be in a negative comfort zone, I wish you to find a person, who will help you questioning yourself and your true motives really deeply. You need to fully reveal yourself and look at your comfort zone from another angle in order to heal and become ready to leave this situation, which is much easier to do with a help of another person.