The Importance Of Discomfort

Here’s what I’m contemplating: what would be the intelligence that drives the kind of discomfort this meme describes? It’s such a common discomfort…I’m VERY familiar with it myself so I think it’s worth considering and unpacking the roots of the discomfort.

Perhaps our discomfort simply means that we aren’t comfortable with perceiving others as suffering…that we are compassionate…that we don’t want others to have an experience that we ourselves know to be unpleasant or even overwhelming.

Or considering this from a more primitive/survival brain perspective if we recognize that someone is in discomfort (discomfort can be a sign of danger/survival) it may mean that we too are close to that same danger (tigers, lions and bears oh my!) and if we can calm the other person(dissipate the danger signals) then we can also calm in response (aaaaaah…the danger has passed). This is all mirror neuron stuff I suppose. This sort of perspective is something I’ve been exploring lately…the idea that all of our behaviours stem from very simple, fundamental biological survival mechanisms. I don’t think we are all that complicated frankly…our OS is pretty simple which it needs to be for survival…too much complexity is not a good strategy for survival.

However (in the context of what the meme describes) another’s discomfort and upset is probably useful for their growth…their discomfort is a communication from themselves about themselves but projected onto us for them to see… :slight_smile: …it’s a call to action to investigate and initiate some level of change for themselves. Recognizing this takes us out of our primitive brain and into the higher brain functions where we recognize that for the other to thrive they must deal with these non-life threatening discomforts and unmet expectations themselves. And most importantly, that their discomfort is not an indication that we ourselves are in danger. When we can calmly and confidently sit with our own discomfort we are inviting and making room for both ourselves and the other to thrive.


(Rick reflecting.)
When I feel “deal with it… themselves” I feel echoes of callousness from people in my past, the “what does not kill us makes us stronger” kind of mentality. I know that’s not what you’re saying, it is just that there’s a lot of knee-jerk polarization that happens around “people pleasing” that loses nuance.

There’s a nuance in being able to Pause. There’s a power and freedom in knowing, as you noted so well, that someone else’s distress need NOT pass through and to us as if a message of threat is being passed to the tribe that there’s danger.

In the Pause, and in the deeper awareness, we can ask… what would be pleasing for me to offer here, if anything? Are they wanting that, or the experience of doing it with a witness rather than a co-creator?

Yes. Discomfort is everywhere. Every day in my world. Whose world doesn’t have discomfort? To be able to be with discomfort with the pause, and as you say here with the calm and confidence to hold space and make room for possibilities – rather than threat response – feels core to thriving in community.


I think I learned early on that being a people pleaser was the only way to get through my childhood within a family and extended family that had love but little to no emotional intelligence or any inkling of an idea who this sweet, pretty, compliant (meaning “good” girl) was. Over the last years, I’ve realized and actually begun to allow myself to sit with all 4 of the discomfort bullet points, especially letting others (my children 43 & 45) handle and fix their own problems! I think I tried to tell myself, “You fixed their problems when they were babies”…but I realize now that even that doesn’t hold water! And, right this very minute, I’m sitting with the immense discomfort of having difficult conversations and setting tough boundaries with my son and grandsons in this brand new We Space I find myself in! I am very grateful for the love and support I feel here in the Center…Mahalo​:hibiscus:


I wasn’t quite pleased with using that language…“deal with it… themselves”…it didn’t really express what I was trying to say but I had done so much editing on what I had written I just left that bit alone. I’d run out of editing gas. Writing down difficult thoughts is not an easy task for me…there is the tendency to want to express what I mean and also what I don’t mean and that would be way to wordy.