People like to say about training and exercise: “You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
Brene Brown (the author) says the same thing about emotional vulnerability.
But here’s the thing: you can’t get comfortable with uncomfortable. It’s not possible. The meaning of the word comfortable is “free from stress or tension.” So, you cannot be free from stress/tension while being in a state of stress/tension. But here’s the thing: you don’t have to be.
See, you can just get used to it.
Pain? It’s here. The good life is not a state of being free from pain. In fact, I would argue that the good life is one where there is pain but there is also much love. So much love. Life is hard for all of us, you and me included. We have moments where life is more pleasant, but there’s always something we’re working on, something causing us stress or tension … and that’s okay.
Comfort is this big fluffy pillow, all-you-can-eat, dessert and Netflix cornucopia of overindulgence sold to us by a society looking to cash in on our pain in all possible ways. They amp up our fear about pain, and then sell us the protection and relief from it. Think I’m wrong? Take a look at our media and pharmaceutical industries, among a host of others.
But what if we just said, “I’m okay with it”? What if we stopped chasing this idea of comfort? What if we simply acknowledged that we don’t have to be comfortable all the time? That we can live with some pain?
And I think that’s what Brene Brown and the folks talking about training/exercise are trying to do: get us used to the idea that feeling is okay, that pain can be survived, that to get to something good you often have to go through a lot of not-so-good stuff. I think we’re all on the same page here.
But we need to start using a new lexicon. We need to build a dialogue that gets away from this idea of comfort and discomfort. Because until we learn to speak about these concepts in a new way, then the old way will continue to dominate the conversation. Fear is a powerful salesman. Stop using his words, and build yourself a language he doesn’t speak.
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