We are programmed throughout our lives to avoid pain & discomfort.
In the majority of cases our parents aim to ensure that we are protected from discomfort. Placed in a comfortable bubble devoid from pain, both physical and emotional.
As children we go through a multitude of experiences that are both scary and difficult. The first day at school, the first exam, the first confrontation. We see children trying to deal with difficulties every day, many of which as adult we deem to be trivial.
As we grow into adulthood, we cast off the shackles of childhood problems and adopt a whole new set of issues.
Getting a job, paying bills, applying for a mortgage, managing money. All of these if given the opportunity would be gladly replaced with the perceived freedom of being a child.
The majority of people spend most of their lives attempting to make themselves more comfortable. They work hard in a job they hate in order to enjoy the weekend. They spend the weekend contemplating the inevitable Monday morning blues. They rinse and repeat.
The question is, should we be trying so hard to avoid discomfort.
There are mentors out there who would argue that you shouldn’t.
One of our writers, Geoff Thompson, is well known for his quote
There is no growth in comfort
Based on his continuing success, you would have to at least consider this wisdom.
Buddhists believe that life is suffering.
In my experience, pain and suffering is a perceived value.
The suffering that a child experiences when not getting a dessert after dinner seems trivial to the adult but, can feel excruciating to a child in the moment.
To one adult, a job interview can be a breeze while to another it evokes crushing doubt and internal crisis.
What I have found is that some of the most difficult things in life have also been some of the smallest acts. Things that would not seem difficult from the outside. However, due to my own demons, my own hard coded anxieties developed throughout my life, these things become mammoth. So scary in some cases that it takes me months just to build up the courage to even start.
Funnily enough, these minor things that caused so much stress and anxiety often turn out to be the most easily resolved. The most simple to conquer. This is not always the case but, it happens more often than not.
On the other hand, some of my most flippant, underwhelming actions have turned out to be the most enduringly difficult.
I suppose the point here is that, the fear of doing something is usually much greater than the thing itself. I understand that this is a fine statement to make but the reality of it is much more difficult. Just because you understand that the fear of starting is greater than the fear of actually doing, it doesn’t make things any easier.
The only comfort I gain from discomfort is that it is usually a good compass. As you travel down the road of your choosing, if you hit a wall of discomfort, it usually means you are travelling in the right direction. If you do hit a wall, it’s fine to take a brief rest at the foot of it before beginning the climb. It’s also ok to lose your footing and fall during the climb.
It’s worth recognising that if you can change your perspective and realise that discomfort is a good sign, that discomfort means growth, you are already ahead of the crowd. Whilst the 99% are trying to avoid discomfort, you at least know on an intellectual level, that the good things will happen outside of your comfort zone.
So why not start now?
Start with the very small, very scary things. Walk into the discomfort and see what is on the other side. Find your purpose in the discomfort. It may not last as long as you think.
Man’s Search For Meaning: The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust – To help you discover how to take beauty and learning from every situation.
Everything that Happens to Me is Good – To show you that everything that happens to you has value.
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