Taking the Path more Discomforting

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Merritt Benz, LCSW

My 7-year-old son drew this picture. It says “I am angry” and it took everything in me to practice what I preach about no emotions being “bad” and sit with him in his discomfort as he works through how to manage his big feelings and difficult behaviors when he feels them.

Yesterday I watached a TED talk that said, “Discomfort is the price of admission for a meaningful life.” One of the constant practices I myself have to engage in during sessions with my clients is being able to sit and tolerate discomfort and a wide range of emotions – positive and negative – both mine and theirs and IT IS SO MUCH HARDER TO DO THAT WHEN IT COMES TO OUR KIDS. Often I will want to rescue them from their discomfort – not only for them but for me because it’s hard to sit with someone who is in pain, but that is the point – to be in it together and to know and experience together that pain and discomfort are a normal and expected part of life.We hurt for meaningful reasons and when we can tolerate and experience discomfort and not be alone in it, we learn and we grow.

It’s not an easy struggle but its well worth the price of admission for a meaningful life. 

This is true. A hard truth but it’s what makes people real and connected to others and themselves and their emotions. Parenting will be hard and our kids will hurt at times but our job is not to insulate or explain away their hurt or the hurting and pain in the world but to be with them in it.

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