As I sat in our counsellor's office with my arms folded, I could feel my resistance mounting. Bay was sharing what I was doing that bothered and caused her to distance herself from me, and I felt a mounting sense of frustration that left me with a desire to punch myself in the head. Isn't that funny? Punching myself in the head. That's a weird thing to be trying not to do. It seems like that gene would have eradicated itself from the pool by natural selection at this point, but apparently a few of us head-punchers stuck around.
I don't actually suffer from a desire to punch myself in the head, but let me tell you, that stuff — that stuff that I don't want to talk about — is infuriating. Hearing about what I'm doing wrong (that's my interpretation), how I'm logjamming our own process, how I'm not the man that my wife needs me to be... That stuff is very very hard for me to be with.
I've noticed that I have an intense desire to avoid these kind of situations. I experience a huge surge of relief when the circumstance or situation that is triggering me disappears or I can get away from it. Rather than sit and be present with what Bay needs in the moment, I just want to go back to doing what I already know how to do. To be on my own, back where it's safe and comfortable, and I can focus only on the stuff that I know how to do, and do efficiently.
The other thing I notice is that as soon as I experience a breakthrough in an area like this, I turn my sights as quickly as I can in the other direction. Don't get me wrong — I have learned, in time, to celebrate the breakthrough and to enjoy the new experience that a changed perspective provides. But as soon as that's done, it's like I forgot everything that I had learned. Not only do I forget everything I learned, but I avoid returning there at all costs. I forget that hanging out in the difficult, uncomfortable, squirmy stuff is the way forward.
The thing is that our journey never stops. We continually transform, but there's never a moment where you have "got it all" or sorted out your blindspot completely. Your blindspot is just like that in a car. You can get help and identify what's currently sitting in it, but the scenery keeps changing.
[Tweet "Your personal blindspot is just like a car's. You might gain some awareness, but the scenery is always changing."]
See, the trick isn't in getting to the point where there's nothing left that makes you uncomfortable, because your blindspot is always going to exist, and there are always going to be things that you struggle to be with.
The challenge is in getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
At no point do you "get it all". At no point do you reach a state where there's no more discomfort. Because discomfort is where the growth lies. If you find yourself living a life in which you don't have resistance or discomfort, you're either keeping yourself small, or lying six feet under ground in a coffin (and hopefully dead, at that point).
Most people, myself included, have a tendency to flip the coin over to the other side. They might be uncomfortable or overwhelmed with working all the time, so they shut out work completely, or try to create rigid barriers through which no concern about work can penetrate. The problem is that you are still at the effect of that particular trigger. The tenuous balance is fine as long as work never creeps beyond the barrier, but as soon as it does, your familiar way of being takes over.
Or consider someone that is working for a boss that they find condescending. While the solution on the surface might be simply to find a new job, this is merely flipping over coin. Instead of being miserable at a job where they feel condescended too, they are now avoiding any job that would require working for someone that might seem to condescend. The next step for them, purely in terms of their own growth and development, is to actually address the condescension and confront it cleanly. Doing this might give them access to the awareness that the condescension isn't actually about them at all, and is rather simply their boss's fear showing up.
Growth and breakthroughs don't happen by moving away from something. They happen by embracing our resistance and moving towards something new.
Where can you see yourself playing a small game as a way of avoiding confrontation? What would you take on next if your job was to embrace discomfort and lean in to it?