Think of sometime you were personally uncomfortable; something that didn’t sit right with you. You had an argument with somebody, or a misunderstanding and it was embarrassing. You may feel humiliated or ashamed. It almost makes you sick to your stomach just thinking about it, or you feel your throat closing up.
We must use this feeling of discomfort as an indication of where we need some personal development. Just like sitting in an uncomfortable position is an indication to move, emotional or spiritual discomfort is an indication of personal growth.
Emotional discomfort can manifest into physical discomfort. I read an article recently that was about the similarities between physical and emotional pain. The articles mention studies done that found the areas of the brain activated during an experience of physical pain were the same as when emotional pain was experienced. Many people when they are depressed or grieving will say they are in physical pain, whether its headaches, stomach aches, or fatigue. Stress hormones in our body will cause muscles or blood vessels to contract. We know that chronic stress and pain can be deadly!
Dealing with emotional or spiritual anguish is just as hard as dealing with physical and as serious. When we deal with physical pain, there is usually a pill we can take or cream to apply. We can always point to where we are hurting and be sure of it. With emotional pain its harder. With treating depression, anxiety and other mental issues we are encouraged to believe that one pill will solve all of our problems. By no means am I refuting the effectiveness of these treatments for some people, however, it does not all have to do with chemical imbalances. It has more to do with an aversion to look inside ourselves and really figure out why we’re so sad, or apathetic.
What’s eating at you inside?
I had for most of my life felt like I was on alert, always tensed. I was uncomfortable speaking my mind, being around new people, doing new things. I always felt like I had to defend myself from the world. I was also in conflict. I had dreams of traveling the world, doing new things, and meeting great people. I had high aspirations for myself so there was discomfort in my mind and body. I was at odds with myself, pitted in between who I was as a person and who I was told I needed to be. There would be times where I needed to speak my truth and I didn’t, and I could feel my throat closing, or stomach churning. There exists certain obligations that are put on us that hold us back and bring internal conflict. Religious obligations that tell us to do what scripture says to do. Societal obligations that tell us to put on a cheerful demeanor and be superficial with people. Familial obligations that tell us you must do what family says to do. These obligations are always swirling around in your head and you may find yourself beginning to live according to them.
How can you fulfill these obligations and live your truth?
You must choose between someone’s image of you or your image of yourself. There are all sorts of people out there that will create an image for you, and try to convince you to live by that. Your thoughts and feelings must be an honest reflection of you, the image you hold of yourself. People that are honest with themselves know their true meaning.
Viktor Frankl said, “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” You will find meaning in your life by exploring the things you have aversions to. If you have an aversion to arguments, or being in conflict with someone, explore why that is. Ask yourself, what am I afraid of? Am I afraid of making people angry at me? Am I afraid of losing control of myself or the situation? Just by contemplation you are shining light on the why of your actions. The big challenge is to use that uncomfortable feeling as an indication, and not fall victim to suffering. Life is full of suffering, and everybody will feel it at some point. In his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Viktor Frankl explores the role suffering plays in our life’s development. Through his vivid accounts of being a concentration camp survivor he walks his readers through the psyche of a person surrounded by such deep suffering. What I learned from this work is that suffering is an inevitability in life, and that many have found meaning through such pain. You will suffer by delving into the things you really don’t want to look at, but you will also find meaning.
Your life is hiding within your discomforts and you only need to look into them to discover pieces of yourself. We have to feel the emotions of the situation because they are clues. I know when I looked deep down into what made me uncomfortable I discovered aspects of my behavior. I was having feelings of low self-worth, doubt, guilt, shame. Once I identified the reasons I could individually focus on resolving them better. This will not be easy, but by working on these aspects of your character your once uneasy situation will become more comfortable for you. Eventually when you are faced with the same scenario you will find that you can handle it with more ease.
I am now more attentive of uncomfortable situations and see them as very integral to my life. If I get caught up over-analyzing a scenario, and feeling like a victim I can more quickly break the spell. Practice makes improvement with this. Explore that uncomfortable discussion you had, or a humiliating moment, and feel all the emotions that come with. Don’t be afraid to suffer for it is integral to your personal growth. Doing this changes your perspective on life and gives it purpose and meaning. Remember that you’re doing this for you and that no one else can do this but you.