Change rarely comes easily. Making significant change in any aspect of life is really hard, as well as frightening. The greater the change, the higher the degree of difficulty and fear associated with it. Similar to physical workouts, there is a general correlation between the discomfort we are willing to go through and the outcomes we get—“no pain, no gain.” The greatest growth comes from pushing ourselves to go beyond the boundaries of the boxes of familiarity and comfort that we have constructed. A lot of people stay in situations that are painful and unhealthy because they are familiar with the pain of their specific situation. They are well acquainted with it and know exactly how it works and what the results will be. Their current circumstances provide an incongruous comfort based on familiarity, predictability, and certainty. Even if it is horrible, they know what to expect. Usually, this dynamic operates under the surface of conscious awareness such that, even when someone knows that change is necessary and wants to change, he or she seems unable to do so. What we know is always much more comfortable than what we don’t know, despite the potential other options may have to be better and healthier. The attraction and power of familiarity and the comfort it provides is not to be underestimated. This is the essence of the emotional cement that keeps people stuck in circumstances that are unsatisfying, unhealthy, and sometimes even dangerous, such as: living situations; jobs/career paths; relationships, including those that are abusive or violent, and active addiction. The fear of the unknown and the uncertainty that goes hand-in-hand with it is natural, normal, and understandable. Sometimes, it can be debilitating. For many people—in this case, me—change occurs only when the pain of staying the same outweighs the fear of doing something different. This blog post is an excerpt from Some Assembly Required – A Balanced Approach to Recovery from Addiction and Chronic Pain by By Dan Mager, MSW; Published by Central Recovery Press (CRP).