Lean in to the discomfort

I’m a big fan of writing to heal and telling our story. I’ve been consistently engaging in this healing-type of writing for the past three years, studying the field for the past year and a half and helping women to lean into the discomfort of penning their stories for almost a year.

I don’t ever want to make it seem that by simply putting things on paper, our lives will magically transform. It can transform over time, especially when we engage in the right type of writing and we do so from a place of openness, authenticity and truth. You see, telling our stories can be hard, even if we are telling them to ourselves.

It’s he or she who’s willing to be the most uncomfortable can rise strong – Brené Brown.

I’m a huge fan of researcher, author, social worker and storyteller, Brene Brown. I have all her books and have listened to all her talks I’ve found online. Her work has changed the way I look at myself and my life. I recommend all my clients check out her work. Brene in her book Rising Strong, talks about leaning into the discomfort, the topic of my post today.

To experience the benefit of this type of writing, we have to be vulnerable and we have to be open to discomfort. Touching on difficult topics can trigger emotions as we re-live them through words. Have you ever told someone ‘I don’t want to talk about it’, when a painful subject was brought up? We do this because we don’t want to relive the experience by retelling it and we do the same thing when we don’t write our stories. But here’s the thing –

When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away; instead, they own us, they define us. Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending—to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how this story ends. ― Brené Brown, Rising Strong

So we lean into the discomfort and tell our stories. We may not be able to share them with a friend but we can always put them on paper. We wade in the discomfort, lean into it, re-live the tough emotions because we understand that many times, they best way through something is to go through it, fully engaged. No short cuts. No quick fixes, but going through, fully immersed and engaged. When my abusive marriage ended, I did just that. I understood that in some ways, I just got my life back and I wanted to make this second phase better. But things needed to change.

You will always get what you’ve always got when you do the same things you’ve always done. I couldn’t afford therapy, but I had my pen, journal and willingness to be open, real and vulnerable with myself, if only on paper. So I wrote. And I filled journals upon journals. I leaned into the discomfort and wrote about what it felt like to be abused, how the abuse changed me. I also looked at the tough topics – why was I complicit in the abuse, why did I stay? It was hard. I cried. I wanted to stop, but I realized that I had to go through this process if I were to live my best life, the life I have and love today.

It’s so easy to anesthetize our pain. We hop from relationship to relationship because we don’t want to touch the things we feel will hurt us and look for comfort in a partner. It is easier to get a new man than look at our unhealthy relationship patterns. Or we numb with drugs, alcohol, recreation and other forms of distraction, all because we refuse to lean into the discomfort that can really bring about meaningful and lasting change in our lives. Perhaps it’s time to take a different approach? Maybe we should desire discomfort over numbing and quick fixes?

People who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses. ― Brené Brown, Rising Strong



  1. October 20, 2016 / 11:50 am

    Growth happens when we lean in to our discomfort. I know this has been my story this year.

    • Carlana
      October 23, 2016 / 9:32 am

      So true, Tanya. Thank you for stopping by.

  2. October 20, 2016 / 1:31 pm

    I love Brene Brown! You’re so right about the need to “wade in discomfort” – feeling those emotions and remembering those moments is so hard, but it all works out for our good. I have travelled that swamp before…but I am so much better because of it.

    • Carlana
      October 23, 2016 / 9:33 am

      Brene is amazing! Her work has had a profound impact on me.

  3. October 20, 2016 / 3:49 pm

    This gives me so much to think about. I think we reflect but fail to release, hindering our ability to heal. Good stuff Brene.

    • Carlana
      October 23, 2016 / 9:37 am

      OMG – how very true. We reflect but fail to release. A reminder that I must release.

  4. October 20, 2016 / 8:23 pm

    Great post! Sharing our pain in a productive way is cathartic and may actually save someone else’s life. It serves to start the healing process as well. Our wounds eventually heal, and the scar that remains reminds us that we are strong.

    • Carlana
      October 23, 2016 / 9:38 am

      Agreed, Michelle.

  5. October 20, 2016 / 10:03 pm

    I started writing in 2011 as a part of my healing from a tumultuous year. One tragedy was the loss of my sister, a fabulous creative writer. I never gave myself the space to be considered a writer because she was the writer, I was the engineer. I had to lean in and get it out so I could move on. Thanks for this.

    • Carlana
      October 23, 2016 / 9:39 am

      Oh I’m sorry about your loss. Glad writing has helped your healing process. It pays to lean in.

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