How does discomfort support capacity for growth?
As I navigated my way through this past week, I noticed familiar, itchy feelings settling around me like a nebulous vapor - stretchy discomfort, lack of clarity and overwhelm. I welcome them, despite their uncomfortable nature, because I recognize them as powerful fuel for growth.
"Growing pains" are real. I remember how uncomfortable my legs were when I was ten years old and my legs were growing quickly. Then my body adjusted to the growth and my legs didn't cramp anymore. The discomfort was a physical sign that something important was happening.
That was then.
Now my growing pains often appear in the form of overwhelm and stretchy, nondescript discomfort.
When I am not paying attention, my instinct is to avoid. I remove myself from the difficult conversations, say "no" to late night meetings that will require me to bring my better self to the table even when I'm tired, shop online rather than start the super challenging project.
But when I am rested and am paying attention I notice that the discomfort is alerting me to another chance to grow and live a whole-hearted life - knowing there are no guarantees if I try, but there is a for-sure guarantee if I don't. I turn towards the discomfort, allowing it to provide important information and fuel more growth.
Growing my discomfort muscles means I get stronger and can stay "in" longer, even when it is easier and more comfortable to run away or lie down flat to avoid.
I can more resiliently hold space for a growing child who has an uncomfortable truth to tell me.
I can more responsively consider what to say when in disagreement with someone I care about.
I can more adeptly make difficult decisions about a commitment that is making my life precariously unbalanced.
I can stand with my own truth, even when it is inconvenient.
Growing discomfort muscles is hard work and it requires discipline. As my muscles get stronger, I notice it gets easier. Until, of course, the next time I notice the lack of clarity and overwhelm lurking in the background. Then the work starts again.
When I choose to lean towards strengthening my discomfort muscles, it helps determine my actions. And actions, aligned with values, supports optimal health.