We humans are very, very good at avoiding discomfort. We know very well how to stay inside our comfort zone, no matter how small, how twisted or how limiting our habits and expectations have made that space.
Discomfort, though, is required for growth. If we only do what we are already comfortable doing, instead listening to the resistance of our ego, nothing will ever change. After all, the only way change can come is when it starts with new choices by one human, usually you.
We can always find reasons not to expand our life, not to risk, not to take a chance, not to face potential embarrassment and discomfort. It is easy to surrender to our own inertia, to be too tired or have too little hope, to just continue making the same choices while complaining that nothing ever changes.
That critical voice inside has a point. We do need to be smart about where we use our energy, our resources, not just taking shots that use our wherewithal up or lead us to believe that change is impossible. Spitting into the wind rarely gets us happy rewards.
But as long as we avoid discomfort, we avoid even the chance of finding the divine surprise, that moment when our vision opens and we see the love, the awesome,. the possibilities of better in the world. We miss the miracle of seeing with new eyes, scales falling away while beauty and potential is revealed.
It’s impossible to be in the right place at the right time if you just aren’t anywhere at all. Braving discomfort, risking change rather than just working to avoid loss is required.
“Do one thing everyday that scares you,” Mary Schmich advised graduates. Its the only way to expand your horizons, to really find out what you have inside, to claim that gift of a lifetime that Joseph Campbell spoke about, becoming who you really are.
I know that for me, it is again time to come out of my basement hermitage and take the risk of exposing my nature, of trying again. I have been licking at my wounds long enough.
Performance Anxiety (PA), often known as stage-fright, is an old friend of mine, as it is for most performers. If you aren’t a bit excited, you don’t have the energy you need.
For me, though, what I need from performance isn’t simple. My performance is far from conventional, challenging to many, and baffling to others. I will never neatly fit into expectations and the kind of engagement I need will never come from simply affirming pleasantries. My distance from simplicity and cuteness makes me exceptional, like so many others.
Still, I am human and I need connection with other people. Few may get the joke, but if I decide to value momentary comfort over exposing my truth, how will I ever find anyone who understands, who cares, who wants to play? Only braving my own discomfort, moving beyond fears & assumptions, can allow me to be present for others and possibly, just possibly, have them be present for me.
If my experience with PA teaches me anything it is that first showing myself is always the hardest part. Once I relax into presence beyond fear, my reflexes take over, letting me appear in a way that most would call natural or authentic.
In other words, it’s not the work that is hard, it is finding a way to open up and get into the swing, the patterns of the work. If I just stop resisting, doors open up and I can receive the gifts waiting for me, even if those gifts include hints on how to be better and stronger the next time.
Entering the discomfort, then, is the only way to get smarter and more myself. The only way out of hell is through, as someone said.
For me, the people I want to meet are those who are also on a journey of discovery, open to the divine surprises they find along their path. When others take responsibility for their own thoughts and feelings, rather than seeing someone to blame or demonize, they commit to connection rather than separation.
Travellers always step out of their comfort zone, knowing that anything that doesn’t surprise, disquiet and challenge them, at least a bit, is something that they already own. Curiosity drives seekers, rather than the simple sensation that tourists desire. Transformation always has a cost and a value, setting us apart from those we come from, while sensation just entertains, allowing us to return satiated to the everyday norms.
Working to expand our knowledge and awareness can only come with the embrace of discomfort. We may want to grow our mastery, learning to be more precise and effective, or to engage questions, even questions we had never considered in the past, but whatever expansion we desire, discomfort lies on the path.
Avoiding discomfort is avoiding the hard work of growth and healing. We trade momentary ease for a more limited future.
I know that if I want a more full future that my only chance demands that I open the door and push into the discomfort that stands between here and the possibilities that lie in the treasures of divine surprises. Avoiding those surprises through avoiding discomfort is avoiding the gifts life has waiting for me.
The youthful exuberance and resilience I once had is gone, replaced now with more wisdom. I need to choose where and when I push through discomfort rather than just bouncing about, hoping to find an opening.
Between love and fear, choose love, opening to connection rather than closing down to pretend separation. Have the courage to change what you can, the serenity to accept what you cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.
But always know that to get the most out of life, choosing to push into discomfort is the only way to go beyond where you are now, to make new and better choices that offer the blessings of divine surprise.