Somewhere along the way, we learn to avoid things that are uncomfortable.

“Hey look at this,” we think. “If I just stay here in the middle – away from the sharp edges – then I don’t get too banged up.”

Slowly, our goals cease being about what we want to create or who we dream of becoming. Slowly, our goals become more about how to avoid the edges.

When the edges sneak up on us anyway – as they tend to do – then we find ways to soften them. Conveniently, we live in a world that will happily help us soften the edges.

We distract. We eat. We smoke. We drink a glass (or three) of wine before dinner. We become anti-anxiety, anti-depression, anti-mood. We watch hours of stuff that means nothing to us. We soften the edges.

And you know what? It kinda works. In the moment, we seem not to get bumped as hard.

Only problem is that as we lose the edges, we also lose the wisdom that the edges are designed to bring. We lose the intuition that comes from the experience. We lose the discovery of our own boundaries and preferences. And we lose the joy that is a natural result of vulnerability, awareness, and energy.

In other words, you can try your level best to stay in the middle not bumping into the edges. But one day, it will occur to you that you have avoided so much more in the process.

I just returned from spending several days with the amazing women in my Platinum and Diamond coaching mastermind. These are women who run their own businesses. They’re creative. They’re entrepreneurial. They shine. They have big breakthroughs and major victories.

And, of course, they hit edges along the way. (So does their coach! :-))

Like all of us, they’ve been programmed to wonder if something is wrong because they have bumped into a sharp edge. Among other things, I remind them to welcome and bless the edges. After all, no one succeeds without them.

27 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • Lola M.

    Wonderful Christine, so pleased to have found your blog!

  • Barrie Davenport

    Hi Christine,
    Your blog is absolutely stunning. I’m the editor for an aggregate blog called The Daily Brainstorm. We wanted to invite you to be a contributor to The Daily Brainstorm. If you would like more information, please contact me at my email address. This would not involved additional writing for you. We would link to your blog.
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  • Becky Hunter

    Just wanted to add… I’ve been sitting up writing a paper and listening to your songs on YouTube. Last time I listened to them, back in November (especially the ones where people change their lives) I would just burst into massive, uncontrollable sobs, and eventually I gave up listening, they were just too painful, I knew my life was a big compromise and felt totally trapped. It just hit me how much my life has changed since then, how much clearer and bolder I am when it comes to doing what I want. Just daring to listen again today, the songs still really move me, but its more inspiring and encouraging than melancholy. Finding your blog and music was one of the big turning points for me. Thanks!

  • Wendi Kelly

    Christine,

    This is something I have gone back and forth from over and over again in life. All the way out to the edges- boldly- until life has smacked a little then right back to the comfort zone of being a people pleaser again. Over and over. It’s taken me a long time to see the cycle for what it is.

    I’m out on the edge again and this time I’m not going back. Eyes wide open and this time I’m enlisting help.

    See you in class. 🙂

  • Becky Hunter

    oops i messed up the blockquote function in the html. bleh… try again…

    Thanks Christine for this, it’s really timely… I’m also in a period of facing the rough stuff… do we do more of this expandy stuff in spring and summer?

    My amazing entrepreneur landlady emailed me this quote yesterday, which I thought was apt, as it speaks of touching the edges:

    The very least you can do in your life is to work out what you hope for. The most you can do is live inside that hope, running down its hallways, touching the walls on both sides

    I think that sense of feeling the walls on each side sums up the life where you’re really going for stuff. Ooh ooh… and in my recent time off grad school for medical issues I did get really really clear about what I want. Yeah!

  • Becky Hunter

    Thanks Christine for this, it’s really timely… I’m also in a period of facing the rough stuff… do we do more of this expandy stuff in spring and summer?

    My amazing entrepreneur landlady emailed me this quote yesterday, which I thought was apt, as it speaks of touching the edges:

    (Barbara Kingsolver)

    I think that sense of feeling the walls on each side sums up the life where you’re really going for stuff. Ooh ooh… and in my time off grad school for medical issues I did get really really clear about what I want. Yeah!

  • Jadyn

    I like this too – I find that it’s so good to be aware of things I use to cover up the fact that I’m walking away from the edges into the ‘comfortable’ middle. This can be watching tv, spending too much time reading blogs (ha!), checking my e-mail too much, even spending too much time cleaning my house when it means I am putting something else off. It is liberating to actually take action even when it’s scary and usually when it is in a direction that is in line with what I really want with my life, it has a tendency to restore balance and I stop being being excessive in other areas. Hope that makes sense…:)

    Thanks for sharing this today, Christine!

  • MAX

    joy says to tell you that her experience is this:
    “YES, YES, YES.
    IF I FACE THE EDGES, MEET THEM FULLY,
    THAT IS WHERE HUGE GROWTH HAPPENS.”

    joy was really happy to read this blogpost.

    isn’t she funny. she didn’t want to tell you herself…
    she had to get one of your favorite kitties to do it for her.

  • Marie

    I see a lot of myself in this – by trying to force myself to stay where I think I “should” be in life, and to ignore feelings and my own desires, I’ve really deadened myself. The ladies in your group who are creative and entreprenurial are so because they are NOT deadening themselves. Once you start thinking to yourself “if I could just be a different person and force myself to [stay on the “should” path, etc.] I’d finally be an acceptable human being” you’ve probably deadened yourself too much – that that point you’re blaming yourself for avoiding edges, growth opportunities, life in general and aching for what you are missing. Believe me, I know!

  • Christine Kane

    Annika – I’m not sure I’m clear on your question. It sounds like you might think i’m saying “Run headlong into anything that’s painful!” Which i HOPE is not what’s coming across. As for the “ism” issues and those kinds of human judgment issues – I ALWAYS turn within and ask myself what i’m learning from that situation, how i could be ATTRACTING that situation, what action i need to take to heal myself in that situation. In my experience, when I go inside, the answers are always there when I hit those edges. You are NEVER limited.

  • Amal

    Hi, thank you so much for the posting, I constantly challenge my Comfort zone,so far, I have come across many edges and I am grateful that the lessons I have learned were of great value. Thanks

  • Erica

    Edges are highly under-rated. Genius, strength, compassion, vulnerability and new-found wisdom can be found at the edge (and beyond) and only in approaching it do we put our intention into action.

    Scars can be a beautiful thing. I wear mine with pride because they remind me of how damn hard I’ve worked to blast through the scary stuff, boundaries, and my own out-moded thinking. And I’m likely to be sporting many more as I thrust forward.

    Thanks for the great post. Reminds me I have a few more edges to approach…

  • Annika

    Maybe I have misunderstood this metaphor. But what if the edges you are trying to avoid is a form of oppression? For me it’s sexism, for others it may be racism or homophobia. There’s an element of attitude in how you handle it, but ultimately these are factual, extrernal limitations. So how do you handle it and how do you know when to call it quits?

  • Evie

    Such a timely post for me! I’m putting my toes into a pool of change and it’s really scaring me 🙂 I found myself doing a lot of stuff I didn’t need to be doing this week to avoid the work I should have been doing to get my feet wet. Time to make sure I do what I need to do to make the life I want, instead of one that I sometimes feel like I’ve ended up with.

  • Holly

    Yes, yes, and yes! This post is *exactly* why I signed up for your Uplevel course that starts in a couple weeks. By playing it safe for so long, I’ve avoided all sorts of big and exciting decisions–all in the name of being “practical.” It’s finally time to go outside my comfort zone and explore those edges.

    If not now, when?

  • Anna

    Good morning! Love this. After 3 years of very intentionally blasting away my comfort zone, I realize I am no longer afraid to feel the edges of all that my life is now. Still have a little chiseling to do to sharpen a few up that are still a little too soft, but I wouldn’t trade what I’ve created for anything!

    Love to you…

  • Laura Mixon, PhD

    Hi, Christine! After working on the edges similar to Amy’s, I visited a new edge: manual labor. I never would trust myself to paint a room, and I’m still not proficient, but getting better. My real gift in the room-painting project is taping. However, after visiting this edge, and succeeding with some great help from friends, I have decided to outsource my next painting job. Still I’m glad I did it cuz now I know what all is involved. I have a whole new appreciation for manual labor now! Happy day!

  • Amy Grimes

    I’ve spent too much of my life trying to blend in and avoid conflict by numbing my own feelings. This blog entry couldn’t be more timely as I’ve spent the last month consciously working to step up to the discomfort and walk straight through the middle. This means I am choosing to say and do things that some people don’t like. Right now those edges are a little tough to deal with. But I’m working towards effortlessness. I’ve decided feeling discomfort and engagement in life is MUCH better than that disconnected nothingness.

    Thanks for the reminder to welcome and bless these things and the encouragement to keep moving forward!

  • Tonya Leigh

    Christine-

    As you know, I’ve been feeling the sharpness of those edges over the last few days. It IS uncomfortable. I DO want to avoid it at times, but nah! I lived way too much of my life avoiding the edges, and seeing how they carve you out to be who you are is exactly why I keep allowing myself to be with these feelings, learn my lesson(s) and continue to push up against the edge.

    Thank you so much, my friend!

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks y’all! Extra thoughts, personal experiences, and reflections are so great to read.

    Ela – to me, edges aren’t about flinging yourself into risk. It’s the general discomfort that comes when you move toward a dream, or heal an illness at a deep level, or even try something new. And yea, many of the “edges” turn out to be mistakes – but they also are teachers. (Mistakes are all in the translation, no?) So, i’m not saying to just toss yourself off a cliff. In fact, i think that most people translate it that way because then they get to say, “Well, that’s just crazy,” and conveniently stay in their comfort zone. The biggest risks are daily moves out of our comfort zone. For instance – the women in my mastermind would tell you that the mere act of standing up in front of 13 other women and sharing your challenges and victories is an Edge! 🙂

  • Cristina

    So true – I’ve done so much softening of the edges to stay safe…and every time, after a period of “deep softening”, I wondered what was the point of going on…what’s the point of living a safe life, stuck in the middle of my comfort of zone? Uncomfortable things have a way of finding you anyway, and I found it even harder to cope then when I stretched myself and lived more around the edges. I guess that, for me, is a matter of gently stretching myself, expanding my comfort zone in small steps, but regularly. Sometimes it seems like I’m not moving at all, or like I’m actually moving backwards, but when I look back at where I was two years ago, one year ago, 2 months ago, I can see that I have indeed moved forward, and that feels really good 🙂
    Thanks for the post, Christine. X

  • Ela

    My thoughts on this are mixed. I completely see myself in your words. And i agree to the general idea. But then again, i find that i am sometimes much happier when i am avoiding certain edges, and not getting bumped as much. Some edges, even when you step over them do not bring you the satisfaction you expected, the sense of achievement. I am not sure i am making myself clear, but my thought is – if you are avoiding all edges, even those that might allow you to flourish –than yes, this article is right. But the trick is identifying those edges that are worth stepping over. Some edges, are just annoying, make you feel bad or anxious, and don’t bring a real sense of achievement with them. Does this resonate with anyone, or is it just self justification of the state i am in? would love to here your thoughts

  • rachel

    I love what you say about “softening the edges” – it’s your comfort zone isn’t it? You’re happy to stay right where you are because it’s comfortable and who wants to step out and be UN-comfortable, to risk failure, to risk anything? But that’s the point of life (or “living” rather than “existing”) I guess…
    Interesting stuff! xxx

  • Leonie

    Hi Christine, I love this! Thanks for a great reminder for why we try to go out on a limb and be courageous, even if it’s not the safest option. We may (potentially) get hurt more, but we truly live more too. I wrote a blog post about this back in November, about trying to make up my mind about where to draw the line as far as edges and safety goes:

    “There’s a fine line between stout an stupid, courageous and careless, fearless and foolhardy, that I find myself wondering about these days (my love for alliteration, on the other hand, I readily admit to). I know I’ll survive no matter the outcome, but should I let myself be defenseless? Which brings me back to an all too familiar conundrum: will I, or won’t I? Do I choose safety and calm, or audacity and the knowledge that I truly tried to make something out of life? It makes me wonder how other people navigate these situations.”

    I still do wonder how other people handle this stuff, so I’m looking forward to the comments on this article!

  • Connie

    Hi Christine — Thanks as always – so true and I can see myself in what you’ve written, but I was especially struck by this tonight because I was JUST reading about the “edge effect” and it sounds so similar: “Ecologists refer to the edge effect in ecosystems, where populations and species are abundant and diverse. At the edge of an ecosystem, there’s a balance between the high productivity and high waste of an immature system on the one hand, and the high “protectivity” and high preservation of mature systems, on the other.” (from Deep Design: Pathways to a Livable Future by David Wann).

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