Two Types of Discomfort, Part II

What do you make it mean?

I bet you’ve experienced this: you tried something new and did not get the level of success that you had hoped for. You’re bummed out.

In reality, even without getting the success you expected, you did a lot of growing: you moved forward, you took action, you created something that wasn’t there before. But that’s not what you are thinking about right now. You are just discouraged and want to quit. I have been there many times.

There is a lot of discomfort that comes with a perceived lack of success.

At this point, what you make the “lack of success” mean will determine whether you continue to
move forward or whether your discomfort starts to move you backwards. And that, my friend, will be determined by how you think.

Discomfort can go both ways

Discomfort can move you forward. You can use your “fail” as a stepping stone for the next adventure.

Think about a child learning how to walk… When he falls, he can decide that he is not good enough, he is really bad at walking, he is never going to learn how and he is done trying. Managing discomfort this way pulls him backwards. On the other hand, he can decide to get up one more time. And every time he falls and gets up, he gets stronger and enhances his ability to walk. This is discomfort that moves you forward.

Now of course, the child doesn’t think about all of that. He responds to his environment encouraging him to stand up and try again. This makes him willing to be uncomfortable.

We, as adults, can take a look at our minds and see what is going on in there, decide whether we are using discomfort wisely or not.

Loving Discipline

Does this discomfort comes from a loving discipline for myself? Am I worth doing this to?

There is a huge difference between loving discipline and beating ourselves up.

When we discipline ourselves, we do a lot of uncomfortable things. We do stuff on our calendar that we don’t want to do, we eat foods that we may not want to eat, we refuse foods that maybe we would rather eat, we get up early when we’d rather stay in bed, we pay our bills, we follow through on commitments that we make.

So many of those things are uncomfortable and they might face us with feelings of deprivation. But this is the kind of discomfort that serves us. We can embrace it because of the growth that it produces.

Negative Discomfort

Discomfort that doesn’t serve us is the kind of discomfort that comes from berating ourselves and hating ourselves. We might inflict this kind of discomfort on ourselves because we have thoughts that we deserve punishment, that we should suffer, that we aren’t good enough, that we aren’t acceptable, that we must be better.

Either way, the discomfort comes from the thoughts in our mind–the sentences in our head.

Once you realize the difference between the two kinds of discomfort, you can begin to change your thoughts if necessary. And thoughts always bring about feelings which trigger actions and results.

Was this useful to you? Please share it!

Creative Writing: God’s Suddenlies

It must have been about 2 am when a very loud “crash” in the living room woke us up last night. My husband got up, examined the situation and came back to bed. “That one porcelain doll you had on the shelf fell,” he said. “I picked it up. No big deal,” he added as he crawled into the warm bed and fell back to sleep.

Sure was loud for a little doll, I thought.

It wasn’t until this morning that we discovered that the entire shelf had yanked itself out of the wall and taken with it a large display window filled with pictures as well as a lamp, books and the doll. It even managed to rip an outlet out of the wall.

My mind went back to at least ten years ago when we received the heavy oak shelf as a gift. My husband carefully drilled the holes right where the studs were and screwed the shelf to the wall.

“There,” he said, “it’s not going anywhere.”

And until yesterday, it hadn’t.

Just yesterday the shelf looked just as strong as ever, like it was never going to go anywhere, like it would be there forever, day after day, just because. And now, my living room looks like it went through an explosion.

Even though I’m no carpenter, I understand that this could not have happened overnight. Somehow, in the secret dark places of the wall, there must have been tension on the screws holding the shelf, or instability hidden somewhere. The process of the wall –or the screws– becoming weak or eroding or whatever took place must have been going on for a while before it came down to the loud crash.

And I think about how so often what looks strong is so weak and what looks weak is so strong, and how what I see on the outside is not always what is happening on the inside.

And I think about how “difficult” people who are so hard to love can be softened over time as we invest ourselves into their lives until the day when they open up their hearts and we realize that something beautiful has been happening all along.

And I think of my garden, how it seems that a tomato literally appears overnight, and it feels like a miracle, and it is a miracle, yet this overnight miracle has been planted and watered and loved and weeded and nurtured for quite a few weeks.   

As I look at the mess that my living room is this morning, I can’t help but smile.

“God’s suddenlies are as slow as molasses dripping down from a jar,” I tell my husband as we begin to pick up the mess.

“What are you talking about?”

“This shelf fell suddenly, but the fall was at least ten years in the making. And God’s suddenlies, they work the same way,” I explain.

“I like that,” he says smiling. “Yes, indeed, God’s suddenlies are as slow as molasses.”