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  • Writer's pictureCelise de Carvalho

"Embracing Challenges: The Key to Personal Growth and Development"

Updated: Feb 22

Just as the lotus bursts out despite the challenging conditions it is rooted in so too can we thrive from discomfort.

Triggers, problems, defences, and little bits of bother are opportunities for growth.

For most of us, this is not how we have been trained to think and as a result, we want to get rid of our problem and the discomfort as soon as possible. We have become very good at figuring out how to do this. We move to something to distract us or give us pleasure as soon as possible. For most of us, this is picking up our phones - instant distraction. Other ways we do this are via shopping, vaping, gambling, shutting down, medicating, porn, alcohol and drugs. They stop or block the discomfort and we can head off on our merry way.

What if these uncomfortable feelings were trying to give us a message, trying to develop us? What if they are trying to tell us what is important to us and needs more attention. What if they are trying to help us grow and understand ourselves and our world more? What happens if we keep blocking and suppressing?

Sometimes nothing major happens, we just keep repeating the same behaviour over and over. For example - have you noticed that on days when you are running late if someone cuts in front of you in the traffic your blood boils, you swear, you feel tense, you feel aggressive, and you justify the feelings in your head by telling yourself the person is an idiot, has no right to do this etc. Eventually, as you keep driving it dissipates and you arrive home and get on with your day. Or you stay escalated for the rest of the day and it wrecks your day. How could you deal with this differently?

Let’s try self-compassion.

Someone cuts in front of you and you feel yourself tightening up. Stop and acknowledge what is happening - “I’m feeling myself escalating and that’s fair enough. I’m running late and I’m worried about not making it in time to give Mary the keys. She will be worried about me and I might make her late for her next appointment. This is stressful but I can’t control it right now. Maybe the person in front is also under the pump. It’s OK. I will get there.”

What does this conversation with yourself do to your nervous system? Does it escalate it or calm it? And from this point are you more likely to have a safe trip, treat the next person you meet warmly and manage a tricky situation with grace or explosion?

You’ve been kind to yourself (#selfcompassion), you are more likely to manage the rest of your day well and you’ve learnt a little bit about yourself. I love doing this in the car because it is very difficult to distract yourself from the discomfort when you are driving! The hardest part is not following your brain's narrative about justifying the annoyance. This activity is you teaching yourself to regulate your nervous system. You may have heard people say “she is so dysregulated”, which means she can’t bring herself back to a calm spot. It is not about ignoring the things that bother or trigger us, it is about being able to recover from these things. We function much better when our nervous system is regulated. In my previous post, I talked about working with what you can control, which is also what has happened here.

Start small

Be kind and gentle, move slowly.

The above example is pretty low on the hierarchy of problems but it’s a great place to start when we are trying to tune into messages that we have spent so long trying to block out and silence. It is also an easy example to see how we justify triggers by passing the blame to someone else. Start with a problem like this, low on the discomfort, not too scary to dig into, and easy to unwind what is bothering you. As we move up into deeper or larger problems and we lean into them the discomfort is going to increase and it may be trickier to uncover why it feels uncomfortable. The increase in discomfort is in the short term. The crest will be ridden and we will begin to move down the other side into new knowledge, understanding and growth. If you need help with this stage counselling can help - send me a message at

Why move towards discomfort?

  • It hasn't gone away with the suppression, it keeps popping up.

  • Sometimes if we don’t pay attention to the discomfort and keep suppressing it there is a good chance it will pop up somewhere else - a headache, a gut ache or an incredible rage (that you will say went from 0 to 100 for no reason).

  • It feels better to be able to understand and manage our nervous system. Not getting dragged into road rage sounds small but it feels good when you live it. Imagine that with bigger triggers!

Good luck!

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