An audience member came up to me after a women’s retreat I recently facilitated and tearfully exclaimed “I loved your workshop; doing those exercises with real people made me so uncomfortable!” I got such a kick out of how she tied those two statements together with such deep enthusiasm because despite trying something new she had found a thrill outside her comfort zone. We laughed together about the never-ending human journey of learning to respect, and even love.
This kind of interpersonal relationship discomfort signals to us that we are at the edge of our personality’s comfort zone and on the brink of spiritual enlightenment. We agreed that, while real relational connections were one of the richest sources for this brand of soul-expanding discomfort, riding that wave of the challenging relational moment all the way into important psychological and spiritual shifts was by no means automatic for most of us.
Moments of real presence with another person tend to change us. However, remember that immediately before they change us, they provide us with something that requires us to develop a psycho-spiritual taste for discomfort. Especially for the discomfort of finding out that we could be mistaken about something.
Our personality spends a lot of energy mapping escape routes from that very potential. Truthfully, our ego has a point! Without some wise reframing from a higher perspective, our personal history is often not the best argument for moving toward relational discomfort. However, if we avoid all relational discomfort, we avoid the psycho-spiritual growth crucible that only relationships can offer, and we miss out on one of the most potentially thrilling and transformative adventures of life.
A big part of the reason we avoid this adventure is that we are frequently trained away from appreciating our own relational mistakes for they are reliable and profound teachers.
One essential perspective shift for improving interpersonal life is learning to truly value another’s’ ability to shake up our belief in our own assumptions about who we are and what is actually going on in our relationships. In my own work with students and clients, I have observed that various Personality Types tends to default to a certain flavour of unquestioned “relational assumptions” when relational discomfort arises.
Rational assumptions can block relational growth potential, in big ways or less significant ways, depending on the level of awareness with which those relational assumptions are held. Using these moments of interpersonal discomfort well does not depend on other people’s level of relational genius as much as we tend to think it does. Enjoying the thrilling ride of a growth orientation in relationships depends primarily on our commitment to the relational genius curriculum, where we learn to value our mistakes, and trust that showing up for that enlightening brand of discomfort means we get to something we truly love on the other side of it: the next chapter in our own spiritual adventure.
It is often said that the real adventures of your life start at the end of your comfort zone. So why not take a chance, be out there and experience new things. You might find that there is so much more that could enrich the quality of your life and makes you that much wiser. Stop wondering what if and take a leap of faith.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!