Embrace the Discomfort

9 March, 2020

We have all been in uncomfortable situations and we all know how it feels – you want to catapult yourself from that seat, hover above your body until it is finished or run without looking back. I am not talking about the real moments of threat when our fight or flight mechanism gets activated for a reason. I am talking about that meeting where it is your turn to speak, and you feel like a complete idiot uttering nonsense. I am talking about that kiss you gave to a girl/boy at the end of the first date that wasn’t received as you expected. I am talking about that conversation with your boss where you “froze” and couldn’t stand up for what you believe in.

These are the moments when our fight or flight mechanism is activated because of a perceived threat, usually to our identity. As soon as that discomfort sets in, we start judging ourselves “Why did I just say that?!”, “I sound like an idiot!”, “I am a waste of space”, “Oh, please please please I want this meeting to finish, enough embarrassment”, and completely resist not only what is happening, but what we are feeling too.

The reason we cannot move past the discomfort, sometimes days after that particular event, is because we did not choose to sit through it in complete presence allowing it to unfold into whatever it is there to unfold into.

What is discomfort? It is a slight pain, it is a moment when you feel uneasy, anxious, or embarrassed. It is also a sign of something new emerging, a sign of growth.

Few days ago I had a meeting with somebody who is absolutely incredible at what he does, very aspirational human being. I am in a situation in my professional life where I really want to expand what I am doing into something I have never done before, and he is absolutely the best person to talk to in the field. In that meeting I received so much valuable insight, but there was a point where I thought “I have no idea what I want, nothing that comes out of my mouth makes sense, and I am wasting this man’s time”. I found myself in such an intense discomfort. I wanted this conversation to be over. However, the respect and appreciation I hold for this individual forced me to surrender my resistance and relax into my discomfort. The moment I committed to it, everything shifted. As a result, we had an incredible conversation where not only I benefited hugely from his expertise, but I was able to offer him an insight too. It was an exchange of gifts.

Had I not surrendered my resistance, I would have carried that discomfort for days, and would have never had a chance to unwrap the gift that this particular situation had to offer.

Commit to the moment of discomfort by letting go of resistance and relaxing into the situation. It will be completely transformed. Go even further, embrace those moments of discomfort, knowing that they are precious gifts in disguise.