The Sunday Sessions: 5.20.18 Edition
Sunday is traditionally a day in which we slow down, take time for reflection, and recharge. Every Sunday, I will share a poem, excerpt, or thought that will make us think, wonder, or even laugh as we prepare ourselves for the upcoming week.
Discomfort. No one likes discomfort, myself included, but it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately as it has come up in a few videos I’ve listened to on my daily commute. One video was an interview Lewis Howes did with Brene Brown. Here’s part of their conversation:
BB: Every crisis we’re up against right now, almost without exception, is about our inability, our unwillingness to deal with pain. If you look at the opioid addiction right now, across the-. Somewhere, beginning with physicians, sent the message there’s no reason to hurt at all.
LH: Mmm, here’s a pain reliever.
BB: Here’s a pain reliever. You know, and, things are not going well in your life, well here’s a way to discharge hate and pain. It’ll make you feel better.
LH: By drinking or by smoking or sex or drugs, whatever.
BB: Yeah. We’re the most medicated, addicted, in debt, and obese Americans in history. Our tolerance for discomfort is zero…It’s our inability to be vulnerable that makes us weak.
When I applied that thinking to my own life, I noticed that it is more than true for me in one area. The major way I cope with discomfort is with food. That night after listening to the video, I went to work on my National Boards portfolio with snacks in tow. I had reverted to my old college and grad school ways of using food to numb the anxiety I feel when studying or writing papers. I would love to report to you all that I stopped snacking once I recognized I was using food to ease my discomfort, but I didn’t. Instead, I kept doing the bad habit and feeling guilty about it the whole time, with the end result being my gaining four pounds over the course of a month.
When it comes to discomfort, I can have hard conversations, I can tolerate a high level of physical pain, and I can manage sadness and grief, but I still don’t know how to deal with stress and anxiety. Feeling stress and anxiety is not bad. Those feelings are signs from your body that something in your life is off. They are necessary for your survival. If you don’t analyze the causes, the stress can eventually kill you.
Listening to that video, I realized I have a lot of internal work to do to evaluate the source of my discomfort when it comes to academic and professional stress and anxiety. And I know I’m not alone. Food may not be what you turn to when you feel discomfort, but there are so many other ways for people to escape the pain, all with varying degrees of destructiveness: online shopping, “procrastibaking“, gambling, cigarettes, painkillers, alcohol, prescription drugs, street drugs, bulimia, anorexia, overexercising, cutting, etc. We have got to learn how to be vulnerable and welcome our discomfort as a signal that an issue in our life needs to be handled, rather than view it as a problem that needs to be silenced.
Questions of the Week
What is your tolerance level for discomfort? Do you mute your discomfort or have you found healthy ways to manage it?