The other day, one of my clients was struggling at her new job. She was trying to decide if she should quit the job or stick with it.
She felt like her boss didn’t trust her (she noticed her boss didn’t trust anyone else either). There was no camaraderie or fun. She felt like no one was there to explain the “big picture” of the tasks she was doing.
Of course, she could do the job just fine. She was getting the hang of it. The problem is that she dreaded going to work. She though she might want to quit, but she also felt bad quitting because she’d only been there a couple of months, and they had just given her a Christmas bonus.
Her underlying feeling was guilt.
The thought of quitting—that guilt—made her very uncomfortable.
As we talked it over, I encouraged her to think about what kind of role model she wanted to be for her teenage daughter (which is very important to her).
“I’d tell her to quit,” she said. “I wouldn’t want her to put up with that.”
“There you go. That’s your answer. It’s okay to quit. Just know that you’ll feel uncomfortable. And also know: you can handle the discomfort.”
She thought it over for a minute. That’s when she asked a mic drop question: “Well, I could also just go to work every day and handle being uncomfortable. What’s the difference?”
SUCH a good question!
I paused. What was the difference?
Finally, I gave her my answer:
- When you do something that makes you completely miserable or you’re trying to avoid a bad feeling, you’re handling the discomfort at the expense of yourself. Eventually, it becomes an energetic draw that takes you away from your best self. It’s draining.
- When you decide to change something that’s not a good fit for you—and it’s hard and awkward—you’re handling the discomfort in service of yourself. It’s temporary. Once you’re through it, you’re then fueled up to step more deeply into yourself. It’s energizing.
CHOOSING discomfort is different from TOLERATING it.
When you choose, you are empowered. You exchange the currency of discomfort for personal growth.
When you allow it, you are disempowered. You exchange the currency of discomfort for separation from self.
Does this sound like you?
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