The Gifts of Discomfort

“Wait a second,” you say, “Didn’t she just write about the importance of being comfortable?”

Well, yes, I did. Let me clarify.

What I was talking about was feeling safe. Whenever I’m a new situation, getting to know the terrain and being physically comfortable is what allows me to feel safe.

But think about it: if we felt 100% comfortable all the time, there’d be nothing driving us to examine our lifestyle, our health, our relationships. There’d be no growth.

Does this ever happen to you?

I’ll happily go through my weekly yoga class, doing a similar routine of poses – I know what my body’s capable of and respect that. Then every once in a while the teacher will introduce a variation: hold the pose 30 seconds longer, bend your legs an inch deeper, lift your heart an inch higher. Now I’m not so relaxed in the pose, my thighs are starting to shake, my heart’s pounding.

Same thing happens when your trainer puts an extra 5lbs on the machine. Or he tells you to do 5 extra reps on each side. Or run for two km today.

Your therapist wants to explore that can of worms you’ve kept locked up for years.

There’s something (someone) asking you to move to your edge and surpass it. It’s super uncomfortable and you want to give up.

Now think about how you feel when you actually stick with it.

You feel lighter, more open. You feel stronger. You’re pleased with your new level of accomplishment. You’ve expanded.

You’ve grown.

Discomfort has many faces:

  • Physical symptoms
  • Mental-emotional pain
  • Frustration with your partner
  • Boredom at work
  • Maybe your diet’s all wrong

I could go on, but you get the idea: something’s not right. Something’s reached its edge and demands your attention.

The way I see it, those are the juicy bits.

As much as you’d love to make them just “Go Away!”, those points of discomfort are the places to focus the light.

They are messages from your soul that tell you where you need to send your attention, where you need to grow.

Let me explain:

We function mostly on a physical plane. This is the Human experience. And we can gladly go along day-to-day, living comfortably.

Underneath all that, we’re guided by the Soul. It’s like an internal GPS holding the big picture for our Life.

Sometimes we steer off course, and the Soul will gently send signals that we need to turn left when we’d rather go right. In order to notice them, those signals need to appear in a form that we understand. If the street sign’s in Chinese when you only read English, it’s not helpful.

These signals are the symptoms, the dis-ease, the discomfort felt in the Body-Mind.

Rumi said it best:

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

(The Guest House, translated by Coleman Barks)

The next time you feel something that’s not quite right, even if it’s “all in your head”, I invite you to take a tiny step back and try to see the discomfort as a gift. A signal from your Soul.

Sometimes it’s easy to hear those messages. Sometimes you might need the help of someone like me to decipher the code.

Sometimes it’s a reminder for a small adjustment, and sometimes the discoveries are groundbreaking.

In my next blog, I’m going to tell you the best way approach the road signs when they come up.

I’m curious about your experience. Have you ever felt some sort of discomfort that turned out to be a blessing? Leave a reply and tell me all about it! When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.


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