I used to avoid discomfort like the plague. I used my organizational powers and life force to keep well within my comfort zone for years, planning every life event to a “t” in order to keep things safe and manageable. I felt that if I could control every outcome, I could avoid pain for me and my family. And in the process I discovered the implicit fly in my soup—the only constant is change.
You can accept that premise and live through the discomfort of change or ignore discomfort and stay stuck. When I chose the latter option, I was so miserable and anxious that I got cancer. That’s not what the oncologist said, but it’s as good an explanation as any.
There’s a wise woman in Virginia who told me that humans only change by slamming their face on the pavement. At the same moment I thought, “Jeesh, that’s harsh,” and “She’s not wrong.” We just don’t realize that growth gets ugly, until we experience it. Then we hunker down until the crisis passes, doing the same thing we’ve always done but harder. That doesn’t lead to resilience. That leads to chugging antacids and bottles of wine to numb the pain.
Now I realize the secret to lasting contentment is the ability to treat discomfort as a constant of growth. If you can just ride the wave of discomfort, breathing your way through it, you will get to the other side a whole lot quicker. And just like that, you’ve learned something new. The ability to come through the discomfort brings a whole new normal. That’s resilience.
Right now, I’m learning how to be Mother of the Bride, and it’s really uncomfortable. I don’t like big crowds, parties or getting gussied up, but I adore my daughter. So, I’m putting one foot in front of the other, without rushing the discomfort or trying to control it. I’m allowing this growth to happen. I’m remaining as witness to one of life’s biggest rites of passage. And it’s so much easier than trying to control everything. There’s grace and gratitude here. I did not see that coming.
Having trouble with discomfort? Tell me all about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.