Today is Blog Action Day: Bloggers from around the world write about a common theme. This year’s theme is Climate Change, a broad topic that makes it possible for bloggers from many diverse areas to join in the fun!
If you browse some of the blog action day posts, you’ll find articles on every conceivable aspect of Climate Change. Yesterday, as I hiked in the hills during a break in the rain and pondered how to approach the topic, I was inspired to stretch just a bit.
You see, stretching is what I do: As a personal development coach and trainer one of my jobs is to help people expand their comfort zones. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to get people to stretch, and other times it’s necessary to turn the heat up a bit. Every once in a while, I find that it has to get REALLY HOT!
Do you see where I’m going with this yet?
Climate change, global warming, whatever you call this event we are living in, is turning up the heat on all of us. Literally! And as the heat turns up, it’s pushing us to the edge of our collective comfort zone.
And, personally, I think that’s a really good thing!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not happy about the melting ice-caps and the Polar Bears that are getting trapped on the drifting ice sheets. I’m not thrilled about the millions of people who may be displaced by rising sea levels. And I’m not singing joyfully about the biodiversity we are losing on a daily basis.
Not at all!
But, I am thrilled that we are arriving at a moment in our history when we are either going to do something about Climate Change, or we’re going to experience the consequences of NOT doing something. As the saying goes, it’s time for us to either “shit or get off the pot!” Well maybe it’s not the best analogy for our situation. After all, it’s our shit – literally and figuratively – that has gotten us into this situation. And I’m not sure I want to imagine what “getting off the pot,” would look like in this case!
But whatever the ultimate outcome, I am thrilled that we are here because it gives us a chance to observe how we face difficult change on a collective level. And the way we approach change collectively is not very different from the way we approach change as individuals.
Every one of us has faced this same “moment of truth” in our lives. We have all come up against the edge of our personal comfort zone and been faced with the choice or stretching and expanding or retreating back to the safety and comfort of what is known.
I’ve faced this choice plenty of times in my own life. And, as a coach, I’ve guided many people through these moments if choice and change. What I’ve found is that, when confronting the edge of our comfort zone, there are usually three main voices that compete for our attention.
There is the “throw caution to the wind” voice that says, “Bring it on baby!” This is the daredevil, the adrenalin junkie, the one that has no concern for stability and security but only cares about growth, movement, excitement and new experiences.
Then there is the voice that speaks for cautious change. This voice acknowledges the problems that have come from living in a certain way, but even so, is not ready to make immediate and dramatic changes. This is the, “Yes, let’s change course, but let’s not rock the boat too much to do it” voice.
And finally, there is the security seeking, “status quo” voice. This is the voice of stability. “No change is good change,” is the motto of this voice. No matter how bad the situation is, no matter how obvious the need for change has become, this voice argues, often quite effectively, that there is nothing wrong and that there is no reason to change.
The interesting thing is that, as we watch Climate Change progressing, we also get to watch each of these voices – along with other variations – play out on the global, collective playing field. We hear the voices shouting for immediate, drastic change. We hear the voices of reason calling for analysis and research-driven action. And we hear the voices arguing that there is absolutely nothing wrong and no reason to make any changes at all.
Now I’m not about to venture a guess as to which voice is “right.” Although I wouldn’t put any money on the “there’s nothing wrong, let’s not make any changes” voice! I do, however, find it very interesting, and informative, observing these collective voices, watching how they interact, how they fight one another, how they point fingers and do their best to discredit the others.
When you or I come up against the edge of our comfort zone the process is identical. Those voices compete for our attention. They urge us to follow their path which is the “right” path. Often, the voice of stability wins by default because we get so caught up in trying to figure out what is right that we end up not doing anything. And, remember, no choice is a choice!
Now here is where it get’s really interesting. I’m a firm believer in Gandhi’s philosophy of “being the change you wish to see in the world.” Most people want to see us change to a sustainable way of living here on this Earth. Most of us want to see a change that reverses the damage we’ve done to the environment.
So, if we believe in Gandhi’s philosophy, that means we must be that change: We must act with more consciousness around environmental issues and sustainability. Maybe we start recycling more, or composting our kitchen scraps, or biking to work, or installing fluorescent bulbs, or taking shorter showers, or any number of great actions that have a positive affect on the environment.
But… what if the change we need to see (and be!) has more to do with how we approach our comfort zone than how we approach our environment.
Hear me out on this one. What if Climate Change is the Symptom but not the Cause?
What if, ultimately, the cause of climate change is our collective inability to expand our comfort zone without resistance?
I know, it’s a stretch. But, as I said earlier, I’m all about stretching.
But what if it’s true? What if Climate Change is the mirror showing us a reflection of who we are and offering us the choice to move to our next level of collective consciousness, to awaken to our greatness?
And what if the critical piece that is holding us back from that next level of consciousness is our inability to move through change – to stretch our comfort zone – with minimal resistance?
After all, resistance causes friction and friction causes what? That’s right, heat!
So here’s my suggestion: Even as you focus on “greening” your life and reducing your carbon footprint, how about also focusing on stretching your personal comfort zone. Your comfort zone stretch doesn’t have to do with sustainability or the environment. In fact, it probably won’t have anything to do with the environment.
Perhaps you’ll stretch your ability to say hello to strangers. Or maybe you’ll take a singing class. Or your comfort zone stretch might be to ask for a raise or start looking for a new job.
The specific way you expand your comfort zone is not important. What matters is that you begin practicing this expansion while releasing resistance to the changes that come.
For if it’s true that by being the change we wish to see in the world the world will change, then as each of us learns to expand and grow more gracefully it’s just possible that the voices debating whether Climate Change is real and how to best address it will stop arguing and start acting, with grace, towards a solution.
For some more ideas on how to start stretching your comfort zone, read my post 51 Ways to Expand Your Comfort Zone
And do leave a comment below. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.