Discomfort Creates Awareness

Last night, I was working on a client with some intense fibromyalgia symptomology.

She's been coming every week for about two months, and it has been an amazing learning experience for me (and I hope, for her as well).

For people who suffer from this condition, everything just hurts, all the time. With pressure, without pressure. And even though it's been documented that massage and other touch therapies tend to bring relief... eventually.. this still presents a challenge to the practitioner.

To backtrack a bit, to when I was starting out in school, I quickly realized that besides my intuition-handicaps, I had a fear of hurting people. This fear created a sense of hesitation... a holding back that I could actually sense in my shallower breathing and the rigidity of my shoulders. Shiatsu can feel good, but it is not like spa-type massage... there is an intention to seek out and bring awareness and energy to places that are stuck... and this can be uncomfortable.

What I came to learn was that my hesitation in this area was indicative of the way I interacted with people in general. Under the guise of 'politeness', or 'niceness', I rarely put my self, my feelings, or my opinions out there. Never asked prying or personal or heavy questions... never wanted people to feel on the spot, or uncomfortable or challenged in their interactions with me. I don't even maintain eye contact for very long if I believe that the person might misunderstand my intention and get weirded out.

Sure, this had the effect of maintaining my 'nice person' image. But it also made me somewhat easily forgettable, inconsequential, and kept my relationships pretty superficial, unsatisfying, and somewhat dishonest.

Funny I should choose an occupation that requires I get into people's space and cause a little pain in order to be effective.

But here's what I've learned about discomforting situations. They force us to be aware. To pay attention. They often demand a response. Of course we can choose avoidance, or numbing. But we can also choose learning and growth. We often have to rally otherwise unused resources to work through it. To be in a comfortable place for too long encourages dozing off, and missing untapped opportunities for being alive and engaging with the world.

I think I have been so worried about taking responsibility for other people's experiences. Not that I want to adapt a callous, 'screw you if you can't take a joke attitude'. I've had to (and continue to) work on myself to become grounded, trustworthy and compassionately detached, both personally and professionally. This allows me to trust my own intentions, knowing that if I'm pushing someone's buttons, I'm doing it, I don't want to say 'for their own good.' .. (well, with a desire that it will lead to greater good).. but because it's my truth, and I have to remember that it is their responsibility to receive it however they want.

The shiatsu clients that I have the most connection and mutual trust with are the ones that I can really lay into with all my power and strength. They experience some ouches, sure.. but they don't blame or resent me, or stop coming. And they receive the greatest benefit. I do as well, because I can be fully present without worrying what they'll do if I inadvertently hurt them.

As for my fibro client... the trust was a little slower to build than with others. In her first couple visits, she let me know in no uncertain terms that if I hurt her, she'll stop coming.  And since then, I know that some of the sessions had been rough for her, lasting even days beyond her appointment, but she is seeing results. And she keeps coming back. We are both widening our comfort zones, and letting ourselves be pushed along a little further than we thought possible.

What a gift...

So, let me ask you....

What are your responses to discomfort?

Where you look first to deal with pain? Inside or outside yourself?

What do you reach for? Distraction? Tranquilizers? Insight? Blame? Guilt? Understanding? Compassion? Awareness?

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