Discomfort Ignoring the need to heal BY: Troy Murphy | July 2016
Stock Adobe Royalty Free Images
When natural and open, inner strengths and weaknesses dance on a public stage, exhibiting the character living inside. We feel, we act, we engage while others watch (and judge). Often to protect, we put on a charade but the thin curtains of deceit can’t hide the secrets dwelling inside. Our lives are exposed to others, the more intimate we become the more vulnerability we feel. We know it. In self-consciousness we feel shame, guilt and fear during routine encounters. We are human, subject to the flowing life within. Pains of discomfort sear the surface of consciousness demanding a response.
Our character isn’t defined by the feeling but by the response to the feeling. Do we cower, hiding from humanity, or do we explode in capricious indignation, punishing those daring to expose our self-loathing, or perhaps, we feel the fear, the anger, the sorrow, accept our humanity, appreciate the life flowing through our veins, and constructively move forward? The exposures to emotions, the ones that determine character, are not defined from fleeting moments of joy but during the moments lined with discomfort—sorrow, fear, anger, and disgust. How we respond during these defining moments, displays our character and determines our futures. We are introduced to discomfort early. During the traumatic entry into the world, our fragile system reacts to the burning discomfort of air filling our tiny lungs. With a slap on the bottom, we experience separation. This is the beginning. A life time of joys and sorrows will follow. During the coming years, comfort and joy will be routinely interrupted; abandonments, losses, disappointments, and hurts dot our existence and dampen life.
Uninvited and unpredicted discomforts interrupt the joys of living. We learn early that we don’t always get what we want; and this causes discomfort. As a child, “no” frequently rings from our parents lips. “No, you can’t play in the street.” “No you can’t eat that cookie.” Often the stern response is beyond our understanding. Years must pass before we fully understand that present sacrifice may have long term rewards. All the young mind knows is that, “I want something and can’t have it.” This causes discomfort. Whether raised with abundance or in poverty, we are introduced to the trauma of unfulfilled desires. During the first precious years, we establish patterns of behavior and thought in response to the disappointments.
As an adult, those habitual patterns guide responses, etched in our brains, they motivate reaction. Change is possible but not easy.
A critical step to change is awareness—mindfully acknowledging feelings of discomfort and the following inclinations for ineffective action. During distress, we naturally seek relief—an escape from the pain. The ego is a shortsighted fellow, recklessly ignorant to long-term consequences, seeking comfort in the moment while damaging the future. The mind—the fabulous mind—smoothly creates ease where distress once lived. We don’t consciously create mental avenues of escape; but they exist and disrupt. The defense mechanisms magically redirect activity to appear softer to the soul. Escaping mental anguish isn’t inherently wrong, too much pain and we shutdown. Ultimately happiness and peace are states of being without pain. Isn’t that what we seek? Unfortunately, many escapes (while temporarily relieving) wreak havoc on our futures, creating greater emotional disruptions to well-being.
"A critical step to change is awareness—mindfully acknowledging feelings of discomfort and the following inclinations for ineffective action."
The cost to the future may far outweigh the gain in the present.
When escaping present discomforting emotions by projecting, repressing, denying, or burying, we may find relief; but beneath the tough exterior, the avoidances of the past begin to fester. The purpose of discomfort to fix an ailment, a conflict between the environment and the person, remains unreconciled. The conflict may return or continue to exist, exerting energy quietly waiting to manifest its self. We must learn the reasons behind pains existence to better utilize its wisdom or repair the fractured thoughts that feed misdirected expectations behind the pain.
The unattended sliver festers; buried emotions rumble, accumulate and then explode, painfully demanding attention. For healing to begin, we must open the wound and remove the intruder. Healing may be painful, acknowledging flaws, hurts and beliefs that contribute to our repeated disappointments. The pain was enough of a disturbance in the past for the mind to bury self clarity. Bringing the pain back to the surface opens wounds we delicately denied existed. We didn’t want the imperfect self on the stage, vulnerable to the jeers and the sneers of the crowd. Some people are mean, loving the weakness, and gaining from the shame. We can limit exposure to the monsters. But we must find safe houses, starting within our own souls, gently accepting, soothing and improving.