Chapter 2: Creeping Thresholds of Discomofort
It is cliché, but the “frog in the kettle” illustration applies. We know how it goes…if you toss a frog into hot water it will immediately jump out. But if you place the frog into a kettle of cool water and slowly turn up the heat, the frog will remain until the water is too hot for it to survive, and it will die.
People adapt to discomfort and danger, too, especially if the elements of discomfort and danger are added or increased in small increments.
The level at which we feel discomfort creeps upward. And we maintain situations and relationships that slowly, increasingly, hold us back, diminish us, or even threaten our safety.
Desensitization can be a two-edged sword.
It is good to become desensitized to the relatively benign irritations and anxieties in our lives, like rude drivers, meeting new people and any phobia you might mention. This improves and expands our lives. It is dangerous, however, to become desensitized to situations that have the real potential to harm us, like high-speed driving, meeting strangers we were introduced to online, or extreme sports.
We adapt to things we should not adapt to. Our discomfort threshold creeps upward until we tolerate situations that will ultimately hurt us. For one reason or another, we become calloused to the signals that warn us of danger.
Comfort zones, the subject of the previous chapter, create resistance to positive change based on false assessments of danger, risk or discomfort. Creeping thresholds of discomfort prevent us from making desperately needed changes by allowing us to become adapted to discomfort that would motivate us to action under other circumstances. Discerning the difference is critical to our lives.