With a willingness to see things differently, discomfort actually comes bearing gifts
Here’s the spiritual conundrum, the big Kahuna of self-help pitfalls: We shame ourselves when we are experiencing something we believe we should not be feeling. And the newsflash: That doesn’t shift the discomfort, it only compounds the pain.
I’m supposed to be happy, but I’m not.
I’m supposed to be restored, but I’m not.
I’m supposed to feel whole, but I don’t.
I’m supposed to know what to do with all of this, but I don’t.
And that’s OK…really. Can you breathe into that for a moment?
Having just returned from a 10-day soul journey in Ireland, I assume that I’m ‘supposed’ to feel a lot of things right now that I don’t.
I’m not going to pretend that I am or that I truly know exactly what to do with all that is bubbling up. Guilting myself into feeling something only compounds the issue and distracts me further from getting to the core of that discomfort, to uncovering what’s beneath it all. And most of all, where it wants to guide me.
So, I take it’s hand in surrender and faith (well, at least that’s what I tell myself).
Transitions can be difficult. Shifting from vacation mode to work mode, unregimented to scheduled, magical to mundane…throw in a massive pile of dirty laundry to boot — requires a bit of navigating. And forcing a smiley face for the world doesn’t change the story.
I’m doing it differently than I have in the past. So, I sit with it, allow it, refrain from resisting it or muscling my way through it — and share it with you…because you are a best selfer and we are in this thing called life together. I know that my story is your story is our story (weave in a few varying details).
I reflect upon the amount of times in my life that I have attempted to control my experience, to pretend my feelings away, ignore them — show up as I am expected to. None of those strategies ever made the discomfort disappear. In fact, it only made it harder.
We feel what we feel when we feel it for a reason.
And by the way, ‘supposed to’s’ fall into the same category as ‘shoulds’ — and have no place in the equation of our emotions. So what if instead of pushing something away, we try embracing it?
Stumbling block number one: assigning expectation to emotions and experiences.
I realize I am guilty as charged of this — and unnecessarily imposed this upon myself and this recent trip. Granted, it was more of a spiritual journey than a vacation cruise, that still doesn’t mean we get to control the outcome. Wouldn’t that defeat the entire purpose anyway?
Sometimes we simply can’t get out of our own way and our old habits. That’s how we are hardwired in order to shield our tenderness.
If you perused my social media accounts, you would see lots of gorgeous pics of me traipsing through lush, green countryside and sacred sites. What you don’t see beneath my smiles is my profound vulnerability. You don’t see the emotions I am processing or the things I am negotiating. Of course, social media is never the whole picture. Dare I call it ‘fake news’?
We’re all negotiating something — and it is usually precisely when we are negotiating one thing that a parade of all the other negotiables saunter in. This is where it gets interesting.
It took my coming across a post on Facebook to jolt myself into reality. A dear soul shared about feeling lost, feeling like throwing in the towel and then beating herself up because she had the luxury of feeling hurt in a world where others were suffering ‘real’ problems. Moved by her candor, I decided to claim my place next to her in truth and solidarity.
The moment she exposed her wound, she exposed mine. YES…I’ve felt lost, disconnected, wanted to throw in the towel — and then ridiculed myself for thinking so. As a matter of fact, I’m feeling all of those things right now. But just as I wrote her back, I realized our pain is relative. It is not meant to be measured and held up against another’s. It doesn’t hurt more or less when compared. It is what it is. End of story.
And how quickly we can run to attend to the wounds of others. How clearly we can find the words to ease the suffering of others. Yet, where are we in that equation for ourselves? Not so good, right?
This is the vicious cycle we get caught up within. No wonder we find ourselves in the same place over and over, each time a bit more frustrated. Each time a bit more unkind and impatient with ourselves.
Discomfort is the great sage. There is comfort to be sought in the space of discomfort.
So here’s the thing: I’m not comfortable in my discomfort any more than the next person. I’d like to shove myself right through it as quickly as possible…alas, that’s not how this soul evolution stuff works. There’s no bypassing, no rushing, no rerouting. There only is what is.
And if I’ve learned anything thus far, it’s that simply being with it is not only OK…it’s necessary. Further to that, no one gets to put a timeline on it for you. I actually think discomfort is to be embraced (and I’m going to go out on a limb and say)…welcomed.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m looking forward to coming out of this on the other side. But what if we could simply rescript how we experience our pain? What if we refrained from trying to fix it, self-medicate it, shame ourselves about it…and instead learned to trust with deep knowingness in its beauty?
Discomfort, like a tempestuous sky, can be poetic.
Here are a few things to keep in mind no matter where you are and what you are experiencing:
- Start by truth-telling. Admit it to yourself, then share it with another. Our souls connect with the thread of truth. Like releasing air from a pressure cooker, when we unleash our burdens in ways that make us feel safe, we are transformed by laying our troubles down. Exhale.
- Don’t try to justify it or measure it. Don’t look around and quantify the validity of your experience. Guilt and shame have no role here.
- Don’t try to fix it. The point isn’t to make it go away. The point is to see it and to explore what it is trying to reveal to you.
- Don’t hand it a schedule. Discomfort comes bearing its own gifts and marches to the beat of its own drummer (and timeline). Allow it to unfold.
- Befriend it. It’s not the enemy.
Yes, sometimes we must walk through the fires of discomfort — the transitions of our life story, so that we can step into our fullness. When we release the distractions, we can see the path before us.
We will also be able to bear witness to the discomfort of others differently. True support comes in the form of acknowledgment and showing up, not in trying to fix the pain of others.
Let’s try to do this differently. Could we make a pact to befriend our discomfort and trust that it is actually a treasured gift, a beacon guiding us along the journey? Know that whatever you are experiencing, you are not alone and if you allow yourself to feel with faith — discomfort is there to take your hand and guide you to your best self.
See you on the other side.
As always, I love witnessing what unfolds here in our community — how we show up for each other and share our experiences. How do you embrace discomfort? Share your pearls of wisdom here so we can ease into to this together, knowing we are not alone.