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NLP / Mar 22, 2020

Why Personal Development Isn't Comfortable

Posted by The Coaching Room

This article is adapted from 'Know Anxiety, Know Yourself' A resilience-architecture guide for professionals.

By Jay Hedley 2019:


Leaving Your Comfort Zone

Any sort of personal development or growth isn't comfortable because it doesn’t exist inside of your comfort zone. But you already knew that at some level, did you not? It's often when we're put under pressure that it becomes more difficult to embody this knowledge at every moment of our day. 




Breaking Down Development

Development from an integral* perspective is about becoming objective to our subjective experience. In other words, awareness* is becoming objective to what you are subject to; the mental thoughts and feelings (states upon states, or Meta states), that drive our Neuro-Semantic experience and create our cognitive biases.

*Integral refers to the framework created by the philosopher Ken Wilber et al of Integral Theory – a study of the intersection of eastern philosophy and developmental psychology and its application to the field of adult human development. Awareness in this context means becoming aware of why you react (internally and externally) the way you do in certain contexts and not others.


We are Creatures of Habit

Let's stop a moment and look at how habitual you actually are:

Fold your arms how you normally would and take a snapshot (of exactly what you did). Now precisely and completely reverse that. Does the reverse feel uncomfortable or wrong somehow? Usually it does. If you can do it, notice how uncomfortable it feels to reverse your arms, and notice the kinaesthetic pull back to the status quo (how you normally fold your arms).



Reframing Discomfort

What if we told you that the discomfort was your leading edge; your potential...What if we told you that the anxiety arises from the discomfort of facing difference and indeed the unknown, was healthy? That it can be framed as your potential arising in the moment. Have you ever felt anxious about what isn’t possible? What if anxiety had a positive intention; to reveal the possibility rather than the probability of you? Are you intentionally testing and driving the leading edge of yourself in terms of your thoughts and feelings; the cultural norms that govern you, your actions and behaviours and your conversations and interactions? Are you intentionally leading yourself? If not, you aren’t alone.




The comfort zone, the status quo, the doing what you've always been doing and thinking the way you've always been thinking - it’s also called homeostasis. Homeostasis refers to the theory of systems; that they seek to maintain themselves, however dysfunctional. This is only true because at some level, it is intended to be functional, and may actually be partially functional. It’s like your immune system – which can actually reject what is good for it – in service of protecting the status quo.


Transcend the Status Quo with NLP

Developmentalist Robert Kegan calls Homeostasis “Immunity to change”. Human Development, caught through the eyes of the Developmentalists – Jane Loevenger, Cook Grueter, Hegel, Fowler, Graves, Maslow, Wilber et al. means:- Constantly questioning the status quo, to transcend and include it (like stepping up the rungs of a ladder – the climber transcends previous rungs, while simultaneously taking the latter view of the higher rung), by gaining the space to see what’s actually happening, integrating the learning, releasing the view, and growing by moving on. NLP is a technique that can help you to help others transcend and include previous understandings of anxiety and resilience in a way that seem counter intuitive. Victor Frankl (author of Man’s Search for Meaning) calls this ‘the paradoxical embrace’. This is actually how we transcend old beliefs and values that no longer serve us – it’s your organic processing – you are already doing it.



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