Struggle and Comfort: A Reflection

This week, I had the privilege of leading the first session of my online Dare to Lead book discussion. Not one for small talk, I wanted this time with others to be valuable for all parties. Participants chose that they wanted to talk about Daring Leadership Principle #6 – Modeling Clarity, Kindness and Hope as well as Daring Leadership Principle #3 – Setting Boundaries and Finding Real Comfort. The conversation that ensued was meaningful, authentic and human.

We are all in struggle, even if we don’t normally talk about it. One of the questions I posed was, “We all numb. When you are in struggle, what brings real comfort to you?”. This isn’t the first time that I have wrestled with this question. REAL COMFORT. What does that even mean? For so many, comfort is a foreign concept because it has been replaced with pacifying, numbing or distracting. We all numb. All of us. It shows up differently – drinking, eating, gambling, promiscuity, tv, internet, drugs – but we all do it. It’s hard to sit with emotion. It’s hard to articulate emotion. It’s hard to Rumble with Vulnerability.

As I’ve worked on my own “stuff” over the past decade, the more I’ve come to acknowledge that – for better or worse – the only way out is through. And still, real comfort often eludes me when I am caught up in the moment and not keeping things in perspective. Keep trying.

Having just started to read The Happiness Advantage the evening before the discussion, I was feeling extra mindful of my surroundings. Wednesday morning, instead of rushing into work, I slowed down and watched my cat Vivian. Just watched. For about 10 minutes, she rolled around on the floor, stretching, and playing with her favorite catnip toy. Occasionally, she caught my eye to give me the coveted slow blink, then went back to entertaining herself. I went to work with a full heart and a happy spirit.

Vivian Joy

When I thought about that experience, I realized that the guardianship I have over my animals – because we all know that our animals own us – brings me true comfort. When I was a child, I didn’t play with barbies. Instead, I was a stuffed animal zoo keeper. Animals have always had a special place in my heart, and that hasn’t changed. Their unconditional love, acceptance, and affection bring real comfort to me. Puppy kisses and kitten cuddles, yes please!

Dig deep, what else? Time spent in conversation and connection with a good friend brings me real comfort. Time spent in nature brings me real comfort. Time spent in reflection brings me real comfort.

Time. Our most precious, nonrenewable resource. Our greatest gift. Am I cherishing this gift and spending it on what makes me happy and improves my well-being, or am I squandering it on things that don’t actually matter? What about you?

Now that I am in reflection, I’m drawing a connection between real comfort and my core values. I find real comfort in having a serene, cozy, welcoming home to come home to each day (value = Home). I find real comfort in intellectual stimulation (value = Learning). I find real comfort in not backing down in something I believe fiercely in (value = Integrity). How curious, I’ve never considered the correlation before. More to consider.

We are all in struggle. We all need comfort and understanding and grace, from ourselves and each other. This week, inhale gratitude and exhale love. Be intentional, and choose a moment to extend generosity and non-judgment to someone who appears to be in struggle. Consider that they are doing the best they can at this very moment, and exercise your empathy muscle. Treat others kindly, and don’t forget to do the same for yourself.

QOTD:  “Our research shows that participants named vulnerability, resentment and anxiety as the biggest drivers of numbing, and resentment is almost always related to a lack of boundaries.” ~ Brené Brown, Dare to Lead

Mood: Love Is A Battlefield – Pat Benatar

Share: What brings you real comfort? Upon reflection, are you able to draw a connection between what brings you comfort and your core values?

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