A Deeper Look at the Comfort Personality.

Joel and I were talking the other day about some of his personality traits. A few of them are holding him back. Our talk focused on why he has no goals and, so, no direction. He’s busing tables in a restaurant now, but wants to move on to a “real” career, something that has meaning for him. Joel is 23, married and has an almost three-year-old daughter.

After a little more talk, we agreed that his absence of goals comes from a couple of beliefs he has. One of these beliefs is that he can wait; that is, he can live his life passively. Another connected belief, is that while he’s drifting along, someone else will decide for him and tell him how to do it (whatever “it” is).

Now to us adults, this may sound silly. We know that the grown-up world simply doesn’t operate like that. But, to the very young Joel (he formed his UNconscious beliefs by five years old, as we all did), these beliefs made perfect sense. Now, the problem is: he has brought hese UNconscious beliefs into his grown-up world, as we all do, only to find that they don’t “work” there. He’s depressed.


Joel’s mom, Nancy, is an active person whose practical life skills (thinking, planning, making decisions, setting goals, following through and accomplishing what she starts) are solid. So, she planned “life” every day for both of her children, Joel and his younger brother, Joe. Because young Joel didn’t have to do any of these processes, he didn’t get that practice.

Also, Joel’s father is a passive person. So, Joel had his father’s example in front of him all the time. Since Nancy did the thinking and deciding for the family, it made good sense to him, UNconsciously, that he could “wait to be told,” like his dad. Then, he would go along for the ride.

Now, 23 years later, Joel is living in the adult world and there’s nobody to plan his day or his life for him. Joel’s wife, Alyssa is busy going to nursing school and caring for their child. She wants a partner who sees what has to be done and does it, as she does. She doesn’t want to push Joel every day to be responsible. That’s what happens now.


So, because Joel didn’t get the chance to practice the life skills of:

  1. thinking through possible goals,
  2. choosing one, and
  3. using his own energy to start, to follow through and achieve the goal, he doesn’t have these skills. Yet, these processes are ones that we all need in the grownup world.

Now Joel must:

  1. change his beliefs
  2. and learn these and other skills.

Of course, we know this is a bigger job than it sounds, but Joel can do it. And frankly, he must do it. He’s an adult; no one will take responsibility for him now. Even if someone tried, that person couldn’t make the right choices for him. Joel has his own unique blend of feelings and thoughts, as we all do. He must develop himself.

So, Joel and I started on that task: (1) me asking questions about his thoughts, interests, feelings, values, likes and dislikes, and (2) Joel searching his feelings and thoughts and experiences for the answers. With this process, we began developing Joel. As he uses this “questioning self” process every day, he’s building his own personal direction in life. Joel will succeed because he’s now actively “doing him,” instead of waiting.

Joel commented that this was not an easy process to start. I agreed, especially for someone who has been “carried” all his life. But, with self-encouragement and persistence, he got it going.

Big Thoughts In This Article.

  1. Passivity cripples us and slows down our life journeys. If you are more passive than active in life, work out of it by initiating action whenever and wherever you can.
  2. Learn “practical life skills.” This self-development does not have to be overwhelming; take it in pieces, not all at once. Practice: thinking, making choices, setting both short and long-term goals and move along toward your goals to completion. This process feels good; it’s self-encouraging.
  3. Practice, practice, practice. Congratulate yourself when you succeed. When you don’t succeed, start over without blaming yourself. I promise that this process, practiced consistently over time, will bring you success and happiness.
  4. Congratulate yourself; you worked for it.

*** Note: If you are a parent and see signs of passivity in your child, start now to encourage the building of “practical life skills.” You’ll be giving your child the enormous gift of self-confidence. In the adult world, this is a must!

All the best until
next time,


Author's Bio: 

Joan Chamberlain is an author, therapist, and life coach with over 30 years of experience helping adults, couples, and teens. She has a Bachelor's degree in Business and Finance, a Bachelor's in education, and a Masters in individuals, couples, and family counseling. Her book, Smart Relationships, has helped many people achieve the self-awareness needed to see themselves honestly. Its wisdom has helped them work toward improving their relationships with themselves, their friends, and their families.

To learn more about the ideas and concepts presented in her articles, please peruse her website: