Discomfort… Growth’s Essential Worker

Hi friends,

Whatever your 2020 vision might have been on January 1st, this year has been a doozy no one could have predicted.

The full range of emotions have been pounding through our collective and individual bodies like waves, bringing the debris from the depths of the waters onto shore to be reckoned with. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been doing a whole lot of reckoning…

Regardless of how much confidence and clarity I previously had about my soul’s mission on this planet – since quarantining, without the flow and structures I’ve built my life around, I’ve often questioned my identity, purpose and floundered about many days unfocused and unsure how to give my gifts meaningfully.

Despite how much I’ve dedicated my life to healing injustices or bringing dignity to all people – or to how “woke” I may have fancied myself to be, over the last couple of months, it’s been painfully clear just how much more I have to learn, how much I’ve benefited from and how complicit I continue to be in the systems of oppression our white bodied supremacy society was built to perpetuate.

And although uncertainty and injustice are hardly new or unique to these times – both are taking center stage in ways that makes it increasingly challenging to stay comfortably numb and disengaged.

Discomfort, when welcomed in, is an essential worker in the transformational process. It is here to show us where we have contorted, contracted and/or disconnected. When we lean into places of discomfort, we feel the edges of our current capacity and have a roadmap for growth. With practice, our nervous system and sense of self can be with more and more before freezing, collapsing or defending. Eventually this process of growth makes it possible for us to be present and connected to a wider range of emotions, circumstances and people who have a different experience or lens of life than we do.

If you, like me, find yourself in a place of privilege (with access to opportunities and a presumption of relative safety and belonging in mainstream society based on your race, gender, class, etc.) then this discomfort may be taking the shape of more guilt, shame, indignation, outrage and/or confusion than usual. These are all appropriate emotions for the realities of our world and demand a new level of responsibility.

Taking responsibility doesn’t mean swooping in saving those who are “less fortunate,” or thinking we can solve the injustices of the world or letting guilt paralyze us. But I believe it does mean doing what’s necessary to hone our response – abilities.  If we keep our own nervous systems as  resourced as possible then we can listen, learn, transform and respond in more congruent and just ways. And when we don’t, we can ask own our shortcomings, readjust and keep going.

We can resource ourselves with breath, movement, rest, compassion, honesty, vulnerability, curiosity, humility, education and listening to voices that are different than our own so that we might respond with our gifts more effectively and sustainably.

Self-care is a revolutionary act. And this, like all truths, holds an important paradox to acknowledge. The culture that needs transforming, is the same culture that allows someone like me, a white, middle class, cisgendered woman, the access and social permission to more easily honor and care for my body and soul, than many of my fellow humans can not easily do.

It seems like we are at a tipping point in our world and the energy for envisioning a new reality is ripe.  This is not the time to go back to sleep.. nor is it sustainable to work all night long. This is not the time to have all the answers… or the time to give up in hopelessness.

To re-envision a future we desire, we must be able to sit with what we could not sit with before and let it change us, inspire us and fuel us to keep moving forward.

With fierce love and welcome discomfort,

Vanessa

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