Is Comfort The Root of All Evil?

I recently had this discussion with students in my hypnotherapy program at Bastyr University. We were talking about what motivates people to act out – whether it is self-sabotage, bullying, or even committing crimes.

For me, the answer points to the seeking of comfort.

Seeking comfort is a reasonable goal when you are convalescing from an accident or major illness, resting after great stress or strain, or when at the end stages of life. Staying comfortable helps to reduce stress, aid in the healing process or usher you through your transition to the next world.

However, when comfort replaces purpose as the goal in life, all sorts of havoc can ensue.

My client Sophie battles with weight management. As we explore the root cause of her extra bulk, we discover that overeating, poor choices in foods (“comfort” foods), and carrying a layer of protection around her body, all are aimed at the goal of providing her with comfort. Changing her goal to pursuing her purpose may lead her in a different direction—to seek enjoyable activities, drive her in productive tasks, and fuel her passions for leading a more exciting and fulfilling life.

Growth, especially spiritual growth, requires getting out of our comfort zones. We may have to look at ourselves honestly and objectively, refusing to hide from the truth. If we refuse to see the truth about ourselves, the grander Truth of the universe will surely be hidden from us as well. All the behaviors we have adopted in order to deal with life are there to keep us comfortable – being nice, pleasing others, being less than our potential, conforming to societal norms, not venturing out, not taking healthy risks. These behaviors and responses do not move us forward.

What served us in a specific event may not be a viable long term strategy. Change the goal from being comfortable to experiencing Truth or achieving your Purpose, and it may get really uncomfortable. But the rewards are vast!

My client Stella was uncomfortable experiencing the depth of her emotions. She has always been empathic and sensitive, and the stress of the disharmony in her childhood home drove her to block her experience of her emotions and feelings. Her subconscious picked up the signals and wanted to be helpful in her pursuit of being more comfortable and less exposed to this intense discomfort. Over the years, the result of seeking comfort gave way to the physical repercussions of MS, a disease marked by the deterioration of the sheath protecting the nerves, leading to numbness. The body displays the perfect metaphor for the emotional state of being.

When you think about it, comfort is the root of all crime. Robbery and theft is the seeking of better financial comfort. Kidnapping, rape, murder, terrorism….all carried out for the sake of gaining greater comfort in some emotional or psychological crisis. Even a spousal argument is initiated when one partner is uncomfortable with an aspect of the relationship. Smoking, drinking, promiscuity,  and drugs—again, ways to mask or avoid discomfort.

Think about laziness, sloth, procrastination, avoidance, passive aggression, sarcasm, control issues, greed, nervous laughter, over working….the list goes on. If the goal is comfort, does it really lead to your highest and dearest goals? Or does it become the stumbling block that prevents you from getting what you really want?

How do you seek comfort? What are you trying to mask or avoid? If you didn’t seek comfort, what could you aim for instead? How might you grow if you allowed yourself to be uncomfortable for the sake of a higher goal?