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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Do I make you uncomfortable?

Discomfort can be good, if you recognise it and use it appropriately.  Oftentimes, we don't listen to others or reject their point of view not because we've considered it and found it to be lacking, but because it makes us uncomfortable and we don't want it to be true.  

Human beings are geared to react evasively to pain and generally this serves us well - when we touch the hot stove and it hurts, we back away.  When we cut ourselves with the kitchen knife, we learn to be more careful.  This reflex, however, tends to fall flat on its face and be counterproductive when it comes to receiving advice and guidance from others, or working through "tough stuff" in interpersonal relationships.  Rather than sticking out the tough stuff, we turn tail and run...often cutting off our nose to spite our face!
The Bestie and I have had several conversations about my relationships with others in the past where I have reacted rather strongly in rejecting her point of view or interpretation.  In looking back on those, I'm realising how often that has been not because she's incorrect, but because accepting what she was saying would have made me confront truths about myself, or the situation, that I just didn't want to...things that made me intensely uncomfortable.  So I stuck my fingers in my ears, metaphorically speaking, and closed my mind and heart to her words because I didn't want to confront the truth in them.  In so doing, however, I often cheated myself out of a real opportunity to grow and better myself - to confront my own faults and failings.  I'm wondering if the Spunky Monkey and I wouldn't be at the painful crossroads we are today, if I had listened more attentively and less defensively, to her counsel.

So...I've made (and renewed) the follow decision recently.  I'm going to do a lot more thoughtful listening...I'm going to use discomfort as a flag to say "This message is important - dwell on it", rather than allow myself to react angrily or defensively and run the heck away from it.  I will thoughtfully consider everyone's counsel - even, and especially, that which makes me feel uncomfortable.

This month's life lesson for me.  Discomfort.  It usually means you've got something you need to deal with differently.

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