When are we seeking comfort?
When are we just trying to numb?
As much as I advocate the utmost importance of getting out of one’s comfort zone, regularly and deliberately, there are times where we do need to fold back, to recharge, to heal a bit.
Just as our muscles grow through repair, which can only happen when we allow ourselves to recover, our soul needs space to expand into the spaces we’ve created—or that have been created for us. But comfort mechanisms can be as diverse as the reasons behind them, and it’s easy to slip past the “comfort” segment of the spectrum, and fall into something else, something more destructive.
Comfort and numbing can look absolutely identical from the outside. It’s the intent behind them that differs.
For me, seeking comfort means that we are willing to accept our vulnerability and to sit with our unease, but that we need a bit of respite from feeling raw. And that’s OK. That’s human.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to kick start the healing process.
It’s when we move from a space of “this is hard but I trust that it will be OK” to a place where we prefer to smother our emotions that we are stumbling beyond seeking solace, and that we begin cultivating absence.
We each have our strategies, be it through so-called “comfort food”, alcohol and drugs, zoning out in front of television or social media so we can stop thinking—the list could go on forever. Whichever means we choose—through a plethora of behaviours that can be detrimental to ourselves or to others—we are stepping away from mindfulness and into harmful escapism.
I see the distinction between comfort and numbing as the different ways one can use light in the darkness.
In overwhelming darkness, we can choose to use a small light, and place it judiciously so that we can make more sense of what’s around us. It doesn’t make the darkness disappear completely, but it allows us better able to navigate it, and with a lesser chance of injury. This is my image of comfort.
Numbing, on the other hand, is like choosing to stare into a glaring light. That the darkness does seem to disappear, but we’re also completely blinded. We are left unable to see what still surrounds us, and the chance of colliding into things and getting hurt of course increases.
Comfort isn’t about pretending there is no darkness. It’s about lighting these small lights that help us along the way, and being grateful for their existence.