Three cheers for discomfort!

I just read a blog post on lifehack.org which I loved before I even read it. I so connected to the main premise of the article. The title is Can you transform without getting uncomfortable? and the hypothesis is:

There is a positive correlation between how uncomfortable an individual is prepared to get and their likelihood of success – irrespective of the field of endeavour.

Need I say more? I mean, the article is very worth reading but all I can say is that it totally hit home for me. I am a woman of comfort. The idea of discomfort – even feeling more tired than usual or having a little stomach ache – upsets me. I have noticed that more and more about myself lately and along with that realization, I’ve noticed how much it can set me back in my life. (Those of you who know me well know that I’ve done a lot of uncomfortable things in my life but there is a huge amount of stress around that because I am not at peace with the idea of discomfort.)

I think that it’s important to ask where that attitude – the one that hates discomfort – comes from. And I think that simply put, it’s that I don’t understand the positive aspect(s) of discomfort. Yes, I prefer not to suffer, but the fact is, and it was phrased perfectly in that blog post so that it became quite clear to me, that it is when you step outside of your comfort that things happen. That is when your life can go places and you can really create great things (along with less great things, which will feel uncomfortable) and change.

In Jewish talk I’ve heard ideas that try to make us feel OK about discomfort (discomfort includes pain and suffering in this case) but none of those explanations have ever spoken to me. Some of these explanations include ideas about how pain is just a part of life, pain makes us appreciate the good times, pain is one of the things created by God so even if we don’t know why it happens, we should believe it’s for the best… None of that does it for me at all.

I think that when it is clear that not fearing discomfort will allow me to utilize all my abilities and fill my potential in the greatest way possible, I feel compelled to go beyond the comfort. Because even just thinking about the idea of filling my potential and being as creative in this world as possible makes me happy.

But first I think I’m going to go take a little nap.

8 thoughts on “Three cheers for discomfort!

  1. So, I’m in contact with a terrific women through a free and very good Jewish dating website. I’m at the beginning stages, and no commitments have been made. However, as I am newly divorced and haven’t dated since the 20th century, when I wasn’t “frum” and played by a different set of rules, I am a total novice here.

    This fine young woman, however, has been divorced for a few years and has done the online thing. One area she mentioned was requirements we have and the ability to change. My circumstance is that I have three children, ages 9,12,15, and my ex is within the neighborhood, although she has left observance. So, while I am up for moving, new experiences, etc., taking my children with me would present a problem and only the attorneys would get anything out of the ensuing court fight. Hence, I cannot see right now how I can have a serious relationship with a woman who won’t live where I live.

    I do understand that that is asking a lot, and our town has a small pool of eligible men and women. So, it is a challenge.

    For lack of a better name, I’ll call this bat Israel LeahRachel.

    LeahRachel emailed me the following wisdom, which address change. I’m not afraid of change in and of itself, but cannot fathom leaving my children behind. Hence, he thoughts on the possibility of moving to my town:

    “SOME compromise may need to be made. If you don’t see any place for compromise or very creative solutions, and are rigid in expecting your next woman to just uproot herself 100% to your place, … that could be a problem.. not only for me, but for many wonderful potential shidduchim for you. Like I said, I am flexible, and also, depending on the man and how incredible he is for me, can see me giving up more than him in some things, since in the bigger picture, he would likewise be giving up other things for me… that’s what “give and take” and “compromise” are all about. Also, flexibility defines that arrangements flow as circumstances change as well, sometimes year to year… as needed….”

    Need I say more?

    • Yes you need. :) I am not sure what your point is. Are you saying that either of you is wrong in this situation? And how does it connect to the topic of this post, of pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone? Do you think she should be open to the idea of leaving her comfort zone?

      I have my own thoughts regarding what she said… I don’t think it’s fair that she’s trying to speak for all those other theoretical women. For many it’s a difficult idea, that of moving (I am not sure how far we’re speaking – same country? A few hour drive? Flight? Do you even live close enough to be able to date?) but for many it’s probably not. I think it’s important for the woman to ask herself if the idea of making such a big “compromise” feels problematic because it really is for concrete reasons or is it just because of the modern ideas that say that we should focus on self-fulfillment and make sure we’re getting our needs filled. If her opinion is based on principles, I think those principles need to be examined because maybe they are not worth sticking to and meanwhile missing a good opportunity.

      Also, btw, the “problem” with the woman coming to you is not only the fact that she has to uproot herself but also that she has to live near the ex. This is something that if a woman feels she is able to, I’d think it’s good to get to know you and the situation more before deciding if this could be a problem.

      Those are some of my thoughts on the situation. The bottom line is that no matter who is right or wrong, the worst thing would be to be in a situation where one person is doing something out of pressure (whether their own or their partner’s) so if she thinks that you’re expecting too much, it doesn’t matter if you are or not. If she feels that way and cannot see herself getting used to this idea, it’s a no go. If she is open to checking it out, then there’s something to talk about.

      One more thing: I cannot imagine expecting someone to move away from their children. Maybe there are some creative compromises that can be found (as she mentioned) but if you really need to live where you do now in order to be near your kids, yes, it might be hard to find a woman who is OK with that, but at the same time, at least in my eyes, it makes total sense.

      All of this is in my VERY humble opinion.

  2. Deena,

    Thank you for your insight. In fact, she doesn’t seem to be about self-fulfillment and other (PC-alert) decadent American (Mitzri) values. In fact, she seems very grounded. She also lives 10,000 miles away in Israel, while I’m in America’s heartland. I should have lived there, but made the wrong choice about where to live 20 years ago (you made the right choice again, I believe).

    Interesting, as I’m going through dating as a newbie, so to speak. Women (I’m not talking to men) with whom I’ve communicated seem to get a lot of duds, liars, beggars, needy men, creeps coming at them. So far, I’ve met on line a few terrific women, and am realizing how “good” I’ve got it, in that men seem to have a better selection than women, by numbers (I won’t go into quality).

    I tell it like it is, explaining who and what I am up front. I don’t want any woman to waste her time on me because she was unaware, such as my status, children, location, hashkafa, work/school activities, etc.

    Back to work. Thank you.

    • LaurAyn,

      Few words, lot of sense. I then put forth, how do we know how to change? I don’t think it is the answers (that we seek) that we need, but the question in the first place.

  3. Nathaniel,
    “I then put forth, how do we know how to change? ”
    You don’t. I can only speak for myself. For many years I thought my choices had to be perfect and if they weren’t the comfortable nice neat ending I thought they would or should be then they were failure. Then I realized, as part of my healing process, that they were not only NOT failure but necessary and would happen again and again until the lesson was learned. Hope this helps. Signed, This very imperfect Jewess.

  4. Dear “Very Imperfect Jewess,”

    I think you name is very common, as would be mine, “Very Imperfect Jew(man).”

    The healing process. I gain so many bits of wisdom from so many people; amazing.

    My divorce is allowing me to be me, not someone else’s version of what she wanted me to be. I really like the guy I’m supposed to be, and one bit of wisdom is to be that guy, not the divorced guy, not the single dad, etc. He’s right.

    It’s like the single (never married) man/woman, as discussed in another post. That s/he is who s/he is, not a single person who is …

    We are the sum total of our experience, decisions, nature.

  5. Pingback: I’m not mingle-able « HaBitza – Date like a Mensch

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