The Beauty in Discomfort

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I used to measure the success of my life in the amount of comfort I felt. I thought that if I were doing things right, everything would sort of play itself out in this beautiful ease, where nothing really felt like work, and everything felt really warm and fuzzy. I thought that if there were ever something I was kind of dreading, or had a difficult time doing something, that I was failing.

And then I started to do wilderness therapy.

That’s when it all shifted.

Each week in the field, everything felt difficult. The weather was either too hot, or too cold. Simple things like eating meals, drinking water, and getting out of bed in the mornings were tedious tasks that required a lot of coaxing and coaching just to get the group moving. Then there were these beautiful moments called “refusals” where your plan for the day would be sideswiped by a student undergoing an emotional breakdown. Or, you know, a family of moose would suddenly appear in your hiking path. In the wilderness, things just kind of come up unexpectedly and you have no choice but to deal with it.

( Side note: refusals=  students refusing to do anything asked of them. It can and does include: eating, sleeping, getting up, cooking food, drinking water, moving,  getting dressed, and even speaking… I came to love these in the end, after learning different techniques on how to deal with this behavior, but at first they can seem quite daunting. My favorite ways to deal with refusals included: reading, playing games, talking about orcs or D&D, and making shapes out of clouds).

I learned a lot about “Type 2 fun” in the field. Type 2 fun is when something feels really difficult in the moment; say, for example, summiting a mountain, but after you get to the top it feels incredibly rewarding. The deal with type 2 fun is that if it wasn’t difficult or discomforting at some point, the reward just isn’t quite as great. It’s really awesome to drive up a mountain to go swimming at a lake, but the experience is totally different if you took the four hours to summit the mountain, and really felt you earned that dip in the lake. See the difference?

The reason this has been coming up for me, is that I’m in a period of great discomfort right now. It’s not the physical discomfort of living outside and dealing with the elements, but I am instead faced with the discomfort of putting myself out there in the job field, making new friends, and dealing with personal issues that had previously been pushed to the side.

I can get caught up believing that my success is determined by how easy life feels, but I know all too well this isn’t at all true. The truth is, there is great power and success from dealing with things that are incredibly difficult and actually overcoming them. By overcoming challenges and facing fears, you are proving to yourself that you are capable of doing hard things. You are building your experience and confidence, and expanding and pushing past your own limits. It’s a beautiful and powerful thing to face fear head-on.

How do you handle discomfort? Any tips or tricks?

with love,

Ashley

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9 Replies to “The Beauty in Discomfort”

  1. hey Ashley!
    thanks so much for this inspiring text!! as i am going thru some tough times (personal issues, unhappy at work, relationship difficulties) it feels good to hear that yes discomfort has its positive sides as well.
    (not sure if you remember me, we shortly met in 2012 at the Vineyard church in Montréal, seems like ages ago 🙂
    many greetings from switzerland, jolanda

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    1. Hi Jo! Of course I remember you! I’m sorry to hear you are going through tough times, I will be sure to keep you in my thoughts and prayers. I do think there is a lot of beauty to come out of discomfort, but it takes time and hurts a lot in the moment.
      It’s so good to hear from you! Sending light and love your way!
      Xo,
      Ashley

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  2. Reblogged this on KEEP CALM & CLIMB OUT and commented:
    A thought provoking read. It’s funny how you stumble across posts at the right time!
    …Are you happy with sailing through life at a comfortable pace? I thought I was.

    The thrill, relief and sense of achievement that comes when you come out of the other side of fear, or difficulty; I’ve had a lot of that over the last few months. So much so that it has thrown everything I’ve ever wanted, and have been working for in to question. I like the new me, but I cant throw away everything the sick me was striving to achieve pre-transplant, just because of the constant hurdles, and fear of failure. When I finally achieve those goals, the rewards, and victory will be even bigger!

    This is my pledge: When I’ve conquered England’s biggest mountain this weekend, I’m going to come home and spend some time tackling my career mountain. Ill get through this degree, I’ve worked too hard not to.

    Thank you Ashley Forrer!

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    1. Sophia, your writing is so beautiful! I’m so glad this post resonated with you. Your story is so inspiring and incredible, and I hope you have an incredible time conquering the tallest mountain in England, and off to that of your career. (I’m in a very similar boat right now, and can relate to the career mountain!) Following your blog and your adventures for sure! Sending lots of love and light your way ❤

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  3. I use to be soooooooooo comfortable with being comfortable. I never stepped out of the norm and was completely routine and boring and missing out on life! Now – nope! Since moving to LA I have changed my habits and I have embraced the unknown and the fact that my schedule changes at the drop of a hat – and you know what? For the most part, I love it!

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