Why We Need to Stay in Our Discomfort
I am walking down Commercial Drive in East Van (Vancouver) on another cool and rainy day. Every step I take tells me to get out of my discomfort and into temporary relief. I could get some nice pastry, maybe some pizza, or a double macchiato latte topped with whipped cream. Don’t get me wrong here. I love my comfort foods. Who doesn’t? Everything in moderation.
So why stay in the discomfort? What is so great about the negative irritations inside? Why can’t I just use sugar to rid myself of it? Discomfort is the message that we all get inside each day that lets us know that we have a place in our lives where growth is needed. It is like code to tell us that we aren’t finished with our growth. New growth is calling us. When we stay with the discomfort, it can begin to inform us. I first started doing this work about 30 years ago. Most of the world thought that dealing with the negative experiences internally was just a waste of time. The most common method of trying to stimulate growth was to just tell someone else repeatedly what they needed to change and to just get over whatever they were feeling. It was paired with an even worse method of telling you how bad you were and somehow expecting that because you know all of this that you were suddenly going to change. Who hasn’t had a teacher, a parent, or a boss that has used these methods?
Are we further along today than 30 years? It is hard to say. The old methods prevail. The newer ones are difficult to take hold. A simple way to begin to take steps that will lead to new growth is to start with the belief that your inner being always desires change in a positive direction. There are no days off where it is not going to want to have a new capacity, a new virtue, a new positive energy. Knowing that this is true can accelerate everything and make growth constant. It may want calmness, tranquility, firmness, courage, confidence, intimacy, love, determination or any one of an infinite number of other capacities. And it is always insistent. When you have a certain level of one capacity like patience, then suddenly a new one like creativity shows us asking to be developed. There is no such a thing for human beings to say what a lot of people say to get out of change work like I am not the type of person who takes chances or I am introvert, meaning that they are not going to have to be friendly or take risks in life. Everyone has to learn how to be friendly and every extroverted person needs to learn how to meditate and go inward.
In my experience worldwide the most discomfort people have is connected with developing closeness. There are a lot of cultures where there is warmth or friendliness, but even in those cultures true intimacy is uncommon. The largest portion of our negative feelings is centered around our inability to get close to others. When you wake up in the morning and feel the negative feelings inside of you, most of the time it is going to be about your relationships with other human beings. It is because we are all underdeveloped in this area. Think about the range of emotions you can wake up with as you think about relating others. You can feel anger, hurt, guilt, embarrassment, fear, anxiety, envy, jealousy, shame, frustration, disappointment or sadness. It is all there.
What to do? First feel it. Next stay with it because it is leading you somewhere to a more intimate space with others. Each emotion is like a code to tell you where you need to go. In the next 12 posts I am going to write about the code of each negative emotion. The starting point will be fear.