You may be saying, “Why would I want to welcome discomfort in my life – and then feel gratitude on top of this? Shouldn’t I be more optimistic and focus on feeling grateful for all the blessings in my life?” Blessings come in a variety of packages. Not all of them envelop us with good feelings. Discomfort or pain can allow us to explore beneath the surface of our lives and connect with our true selves. Aligned with our core, we gain strength to surf the storms of life with an inner harmony of peace and understanding.
How we’ve evolved
Our early ancestors were wandering nomads, always ready to move on to the next location in order to protect, nurture, and sustain life for their families. Living close to the earth, they watched the change of seasons, engaged with plants and animals. They experienced vast periods of stillness, reflection and aloneness. They learned from their discomforts, made changes, or moved on to something else. Their life of movement was filled with adventure and discovery.
The instincts of our predecessors are still within us. Yet instead of engaging in life-sustaining activities, most of us become engrossed with all our “smart” gadgets that are, in fact, facsimiles of real life. Discomfort avoidance seems to be the hidden mantra of our culture.
In addition to overindulging in food and various numbing substances, our spare time is spent watching sports, movies and reality shows or playing video and computer games. Sure, we may work out at the gym, take a yoga class or jog, but either the iPods are running or our minds are racing. Our thoughts may skip from where we just were to what’s for dinner to planning tomorrow’s meeting to distress over a recent dialogue with a loved one. We are more present in our heads than in our bodies – and with life itself.
Too often our desire for basic sustenance has been replaced by the desire to acquire more “stuff.” Once we have a new toothpaste, new car, job or relationship, we believe we can avoid this feeling of discomfort and be happy. Right? We primarily seek happiness in the form of “doing,” and being mesmerized with simulations of human experience.
What’s the problem?
In the midst of our chaotic lives, we have little or no time to process anything. We’ve become like geese that are force-fed to produce paté. It’s like eating one meal after another with no time to digest any of them. This begins to feel natural and we forget how to digest our experiences. We’re unable to assimilate what nourishes our life, spirit and well-being, let alone understand our purpose for being here – or who we truly are. We lose our instinct to observe life and nature in silence and understand our place within it.
Discomfort, confusion and suffering show up regularly in all our lives in one form or another. They can manifest in very subtle ways, or as extreme physical, emotional or spiritual pain. When life becomes crammed with so much doing, it seems easier to just stuff the pain away and ignore it. We may say to ourselves, “I’ll get to this later,” but later never comes. We end up spending so much energy trying to get rid of discomfort, denying it or distancing from it.
Discomfort, the messenger
Psychic nerve endings in our bodies hold memories of discomfort from our past. Whatever we stuff inside inevitably comes back to haunt us in some way. These feelings of discomfort that underlie our lives motivate all our actions and may cause us to react emotionally to circumstances – often irrationally.
Yet, when discomfort arises, this actually is informing us of our essential aliveness. When the ego finds things getting uncomfortable, pressure builds up inside us. This is the ego fearing loss of control. It is a sign of our deeper intelligence informing us that something is out of sync. An opportunity is offered to us to explore what’s behind our confusion and listen to a voice of wisdom.
When we treat whatever arises as a messenger with something to enlighten us, we begin to create a life pathway of harmony. While this pathway is not devoid of discomfort, the opportunity arises to grow and move toward greater wholeness.
Head the call!
When discomfort knocks, take the opportunity to explore what’s behind your confusion, where there is a powerful voice of wisdom waiting to be heard. When you treat whatever arises as a messenger, something to enlighten, you begin to create a life pathway of harmony. While this pathway is not devoid of discomfort, the opportunity arises to grow and move towards greater wholeness. You’ll be grateful you did!