The Right Kind of Discomfort

Recently I woke in the middle of the night and I was cold. This wouldn’t be a big deal if I didn’t share my room with an alert 7-month-old. But I do. So it is a big deal. I started the process of silently removing blankets and creeping to the end of my bed for my favorite hoodie, which I knew I had left on top of a laundry pile. 

In the dark, and as quiet as I could be, I started lifting pieces of clothing. I went to the spot I was certain I’d left my sweatshirt, waiting for my hands to register the perfectly soft, decade old fabric. No luck. No, that’s too rough. Not heavy enough. That fabric’s too thin. 

Again and again I felt through the basket of clothes, growing more awake (and more cold) as the seconds passed. 

Finally I gave up and decided to risk waking the baby by turning on a light. 

And there it was. Right on the top of the pile. My hands had picked up the object of my desire several times. But I hadn’t recognized it based on touch alone. What habit, routine, and appearance had been telling me was comfortable, I had actually rejected when I had the opportunity to feel.

Over the next few days I determined that I needed a new hoodie. I get sentimental about clothes, and the old hoodie was a gift from my sister. I kept it, and still wear it sometimes. But in shopping for another one I actually closed my eyes when I tried sweatshirts on, to make sure the one I picked felt comfortable. 

It is incredibly easy to perpetuate habits that make us sick and stressed out. Our routines are often ingrained and automatic. And many times they seem comfortable, even when they are making us unwell. Sometimes we need to turn off the lights and get as quiet as we can in order to grasp what it is that our bodies, minds and spirits are longing for. 

Sometimes we choose the darkness. Other times it finds us. Either way, being in the dark can feel uncomfortable. We may discover that really feeling is is actually unnerving and disorienting. We might experience friction between the old things we’re holding onto and the new things we know we need to receive. 

It is precisely this awkwardness and unfamiliarity that can move us into a life that suits us better. While there can be pain and grief in letting go, ushering in something new, when it is authentic to our truest selves, is a good kind of discomfort.

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