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Leaning into Discomfort


Do you ever feel like there is something blocking you, in your way?

Or perhaps it feels like you are stuck on something that has happened to you, or like there is a hole in you. As we go through life, we accumulate “baggage” – things that happen to us throughout our lives that have an inevitable and lasting impact.Sometimes we play a role in these things and other times they happen outside of our control. Much of the time there is not one cause but many, where the only thing we can pinpoint is the lingering feeling of unease that they leave. Yet sometimes there are clearly identifiable moments we live with, that uncontrollably change our trajectories.


As humans our innate reactions are usually to run away from this pain. We might refuse to acknowledge it; drink until we can’t feel it; or keep ourselves so busy that we don’t have time to acknowledge it. Other times we might seek vindication – the reason why we are in this position and not someone else. We do this because from an evolutionary point of view, pain is how we know something is bad. And if we stay away from the bad things, then we will be OK, right? So you can appreciate how confronting it can be to learn that actually, leaning into this discomfort can be the way through it. Let me explain what I mean.


Susie* was violently assaulted by a close friend. And although she came to accept the events that occurred, she was stuck on what others might consider a minor detail and it infuriated her. When she went to the police they told her that they wouldn’t be pursuing a conviction, because although his story supported hers, he said he didn’t realise what he was doing. It was assumed that potential jurors would sympathise with him given his standing in the community, and therefore further action was deemed an inefficient use of resources. This was, until Susie received a call saying something similar had happened to someone else, and police were now looking to prosecute, and needed Susie’s help. For Susie, this was the sticking point that she couldn’t get past.


Instead of avoiding or numbing, Susie looked inwards to why this particular component created such distress, when she had managed to process and accept all the others. She was able to see that this fed into older, deeper insecurities about being passed over; irrelevant and unworthy. She was able to identify those maladaptive coping mechanisms that had once served to protect her, and how they were now getting in her way. She realised that she didn’t need vindication or for there to be a higher purpose for what had occurred; and that sometimes unfortunate things just happen. When she realised this, she was then free to choose what to do with it - she regained control.


Through turning towards the things that cause us pain, we are able to understand why they do, and come to an understanding about what to do with them. However, this is not to say that the process is not uncomfortable.It can be confronting and difficult, however it is though becoming comfortable with discomfort that we grow, and learn to be more than who we are.


If you are interested in discussing any of the points further, we would be more than happy to hear from you. Feel free to send an email to admin@youmatterpsychologists.com.au and we will answer any questions you may have.



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