As a species, we don’t like to think thoughts that make us feel unsafe; thoughts of illness, abandonment, loss, inadequacy. But they’re on the spectrum of human emotion. And that means we cannot escape them. At least not entirely. We can, however, learn to be more comfortable with what makes us uncomfortable just by allowing it to exist.
That might sound simplistic, and perhaps as an idea it is, but it also requires us to dig deep inside ourselves. I wish I’d been equipped with the ability to be comfortable with discomfort earlier in my life. It would have saved me huge amounts of heartache and headache. It would have prevented me from hiking off down dead-end roads to try and change other people and the ways they behaved.
But because I didn’t even really realise it was an option, I put all my energy into focussing on and fighting the discomfort. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work. It did nothing in fact but exacerbate the very discomfort I was trying to get rid of.
I’ve learnt now and there is mileage in the better late than never adage. But the sooner we start to embrace that which we instinctively want to push away and pretend doesn’t exist, the sooner we can get to a place of genuine liberty. Because the reality is, we cannot make the world exactly as we want it to be and we cannot determine how other people behave towards us. In fact, the only thing we can truly control is our own reaction to things that arise in our lives.
That is not to say we should become complacent or resign ourselves to whatever is coming our way. Far from it. But it is to say, we get to choose how to respond to the uncomfortable boulders life rolls in our path. We can stand in front of them shouting and screaming and trying to push them out of the way, or we can acknowledge and accept their presence, and walk around them into a space where discomfort becomes a minor player in the story of your life.