Historically, we’ve had no choice but to live in the uncomfortable zone. And if you want to grow, you too must do the same.
Humans are funny. As far as I can tell, we are a walking, talking, biological bag of contradictions. We are peaceful and at the same time, the most violent creatures on earth. For me, it’s these contradictions that make us interesting. And believe me or not, it’s these very tendencies that get us into trouble.
Good mental health, at least to a large degree, is maintained or even improved when life is in a space of clarity. Or to put it more accurately, the level of lucidity we have, the mentally healthier we are.
So, when it’s broken down to its simplest terms, we thrive on predictability. Additionally, In the same way continuity predicts better health outcomes, paradoxically, chaos can also be a benefit to all of us.
In fact, if it weren’t for chaos, millions of us wouldn’t even be here, let alone have anything we want at the click of a button. Ah yes, humans have come a long way. And all because historically we’ve had no choice but to live in the uncomfortable zone.
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As it turns out, this comfortability we are blessed with is a new phenomenon. Here, let me explain. In the pre-industrial revolution, a bad cut could mean certain death; disobeying the King or Queen could mean “off with your head!” and giving birth was a gamble. You name it – we needed to fight like hell to survive it.
While mental health conditions most certainly existed, no one in those days had time nor the tolerance for it.
So now, here we are, living in the internet (thanks, metaverse), have the world’s knowledge at our fingertips, and can find our way around the planet with a click of a button. It’s nothing short of stunning when you think about it. Yet, what seems like “the good life” is instead fraught with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and many more ailments of the mind.
Why, though? Well, it turns out that while we’ve moved forward socially and technologically, our brains have not. At least not the regions that control our angst. Our new brain however – i.e., the lump behind our forehead – is new. And it has been largely responsible for our modern-day success.
Known as the pre-frontal cortex, it is responsible for problem solving, mood regulation and so on. Essentially, the prefrontal cortex makes you, you.
In short, we have dreamed up a world that throws our older parts of the brain into overdrive – systems that were designed to be active only for short periods of time. I.e., when escaping danger.
Now, danger is perceived everywhere. I mean, it seems that there is a global feeling of loss of control. Worryingly, I hear “I can’t worry about the bigger problems, I need to worry about me.” However, the wider world’s issues are what’s fueling your personal ones.
While self-preservation mode seems logical, what it does is get us right back into our ancient survival-mode instinct. So, in reality, we are doing what humans do – trying to survive.
Want to grow?
If you’ve been a long-time reader of The Road To Mental Wellness, or have bought my book, then you know that I talk about action. But what does taking action look like? Firstly, it’s not easy. However, it is necessary. Therefore, anyone wanting to grow must put themselves in the uncomfortable zone.
“But Jonathan, how do I do that?” Well, by not living in perpetual angst because you view it as easier. Now, that’s not to say that you have to take on the world and try to solve its problems. Rather, we should strive for personal growth. Like it or not, you must start living in the uncomfortable zone to do this.
So, what am I talking about here? I am talking about self-improvement. Argo, you need to act. While you may not be able to stop the massive cloud that has overtaken humanity, you can however, build a tolerance towards it.
Again, you’ll have to be living in the uncomfortable zone. Not exercising? Start. Not investing time into your hobbies? Do so. And so on.
Fundamentally, we need to do the opposite in order to lower our stress to a level that won’t make us sick.
In the end, if we take on the task of growing, we will feel better. And when we feel better, we have the strength to make a difference to those around us. So, go ahead, put yourself in the uncomfortable zone! Taking risks to help improve your mental wellbeing will lead to better times.