Discomfort is a form of pain, but it isn’t a deep pain – it’s a shallow one. It’s the feeling you get when you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone. Eating a spinach and kale salad brings discomfort too. So does meditating, or focusing on a difficult task, or saying “no” to others. Of course, these are just examples, because different people find discomfort in different things, but you get the general idea.
The key thing to understand is that most forms of discomfort actually help us grow into our strongest and smartest selves. However, many of us were raised by loving parents who did so much to make our childhoods comfortable, that we inadvertently grew up to subconsciously believe that we don’t need discomfort in our lives and now we avoid it constantly. This leaves us constrained to partake in only the activities and opportunities within our tiny little comfort zones. We miss out on most of life’s greatest and healthiest experiences, and we get stuck in a debilitating cycle.
Let’s use diet and exercise as an example…
First, we become unhealthy because eating healthy food and exercising feels uncomfortable, so we opt for comfort food and mindless activities instead.
Being unhealthy is also uncomfortable, so we seek to distract ourselves from the reality of our unhealthy bodies by eating more unhealthy food and watching more unhealthy entertainment and going to the mall to shop for things we don’t really want or need. And our discomfort just gets worse.
Amazingly, the simple act of accepting a little discomfort every day, and taking it one small step at a time, can solve most of our common problems, and make our minds happier, healthier and stronger in the long run.
We’re given the ability to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall sometimes. Because that’s part of living – to face discomfort, learn from it, and adapt over the course of time. This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become.
So when you find yourself cocooned in isolation and cannot find your way out of the darkness, remember that this is similar to the place where caterpillars go to grow their wings. Just because today is uncomfortable and stressful, doesn’t mean tomorrow won’t be wonderful. You just got to get there.
Peace and Love, Jim