I have been thinking about how often we are uncomfortable with feeling uncomfortable (which I cannot help but note is ironically circular in its very definition), and that I have observed and experienced the inherently powerful and positive opportunity that exists in how we choose to respond to our discomfort.
When considering this from a cognitive perspective, uncomfortable is often the response to the metaphorical wedge of new ideas, or a perspective that differs from what we have held as truth. These feelings of discomfort – sometimes referred to as cognitive dissonance – can function as a barometer of sorts, indicating that we need to pay attention and seek out more information, and re-evaluate what we considered to be our truth.
When I am questioning my assumptions and broadening my perceptions to be inclusive of the experience of others, when I am curious and listening, then I am adjusting my subjective reality… and that is when growth and change happens. Digging-in to these moments has at times shaken me to my core, but it has also resulted in some of my deepest and most profound learning and understanding.
That uncomfortable feeling of cognitive dissonance acts as the indicator that points me to something I need to be considering. If I am responsive to this, it denotes something important and asserts: “pay attention to this – this doesn’t align.” I will continue to resist the seemingly natural urge to respond to discomforting signifiers with avoidance or denial… and work instead to be willing to deeply question my assumptions and my stance.
It may not be comfortable… and working to be comfortable with discomfort may not be easy, but so what?!? I will continue to lean in…
30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.
© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism (2014)