In a discussion a therapist was touting the feedback process she used with her clients. The clients took a brief survey before and after the session. The survey measured, among other things, the therapeutic connection between client and couselor.
I argued strongly against such a thing. I’m not opposed to feedback, but I couldn’t imagine this working well in my world. First of all I’m an introvert. Introverts like to process things internally before we share them with the outside world. There’s no way I could give feedback on a session that had just occurred, except maybe to say the room had been too hot or too cold. In fact, asking me to do so would probably disrupt my process.
But my second objection comes from the therapist side of me. I’ve had more than one client tell me, after we’ve been working together for a while, how angry I made them at one point or another. They’d tell me of how they left my office in anger, half vowing never to come back. Before the next appointment rolled around they’d cooled off and showed up to keep working but an in-the-moment evaluation might have been a little misleading. Much, much later they could tell me that they understood now why I said what I did and why it was ultimately helpful for them.
I thought about hat this morning as I reading Brené Brown’s discussion of the importance of normalizing discomfort. (in Daring Greatly.) She argues that if we’re not willing to be uncomfortable we cannot ever grow. She tells her students at the beginning of class: “If you’re comfortable, I’m not teaching and you’re not learning.”
Our resistance to discomfort restricts our life and our living in so many ways. We pass on taking the walk or the hike or even the run because it’s too hot or too cold or it might rain or it might challenge us to go beyond where we think we can go. We miss the chance to improve our mental and physical (and perhaps even spiritual) health. We miss the gifts small and large that we stumble across while doing such a thing.
Or we don’t put ourselves out there and take a chance by doing something we are not already convinced we can do adequately, if not well. we’ll never know if we could have ever done that thing because we were too afraid of failing at it. We screen out all ideas that are unlike ideas we already have because considering something new may change the way we think – and that’s uncomfortable.
Or we hold onto ways of coping that worked years ago but hold us back because it’s what we know. If we’ve spent a lifetime putting ourselves down because we had little or no self esteem it can be pretty uncomfortable to begin to think differently. Who am I if I am not all of those terrible things people told me I was?
As a host we invite people to be comfortable. “Why don’t we move our conversation into the den where it’s more comfortable?” Yet sometimes life offers us a different invitation: Why don’t you step into this place that’s really uncomfortable? The thing is that such an invitation can be one of the greatest gifts in our lives.
Are you willing to risk a little discomfort?