I went on a hike alone today. The sun was out but the air was cold. And immediately as I left the comfort of my car, I felt my hands began to freeze. As I slowly started walking towards the trailhead, part of my mind said, "let's leave!" But another part of my mind said, "No. It's ok to be uncomfortable."
I heard indigenous leader, Arkan Lushwala, recently speak about the importance of discomfort. He said, "The body is like a horse, and the spirit is the rider. The horse likes to be ridden. And the mind is like this too."
Being uncomfortable is an important part of our growth. The willingness to leave your place of comfort and explore the unknown is essential to living. It's why we feel so alive after a good workout, a vacation with unknown plot twists, and overcoming life challenges we didn't choose but afterwards realized our own abilities and surprised ourselves in the end.
Being uncomfortable means pushing one's self beyond normal places of physical and emotional comfort. But it does not mean no boundaries. It is important the distinction between being uncomfortable and experiencing trauma or danger. It is important we know the difference between exploring environments of discomfort or challenge and environments that are dangerous or even life-threatening. And it important that we do not confuse the two and put ourselves in a place of harm. But rather a place where we are challenged, just outside our circle of comfort.
I can easily see this life principle of being uncomfortable applied in my work in healing skin. It is important to feel the discomfort of turning down unhealthy foods like sugar, desserts, cow's milk, and alcohol that cause you to break out. The discomfort of being in social situations with people around you ordering foods that trigger your acne and sticking to your values and making a different choice. It is important to sit in the discomfort of having pimples after making harmful decisions for yourself. Not in judgment, but just to notice in reality and have space to reflect and learn.
Being willing to be uncomfortable doesn't mean we agree to be uncomfortable forever. It means we allow ourselves the space to live our difference choices outside our norm and see how we feel on the other side. And see what we learn about ourselves and life in the process.
Today, my willingness to be uncomfortable paid off. Halfway through my hike I found a vibrant waterfall, flowing full from two days of rain. And I sat by it for a while until the voices in my head calmed... and a sense of peace came all the way in.
In love, health, and community,
Elise May, CN + LE, is a holistic esthetician, acne nutritionist, and founder of Skin Nutritious. Since 2009, she has helped over 1,300 clients overcome acne with a unique blend of coaching, treatments, and holistic skincare.
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