Leaning in to Discomfort

By Samantha McKenzie

I’m nose deep in the first few chapters of a new book about overcoming difficulties and accepting all that life has to offer. It’s a champion’s book about being vulnerable, rising from the ashes and living your life wholeheartedly.


This is definitely my kind of book, I thought, as I hurriedly flipped through the pages, itching to read what’s next and scratching to get to that infamous “ah-ha” moment.

And then I stumbled onto this. Dr. Brene Brown, author of the New York Times bestseller, Daring Greatly and the follow-up sequel, Rising Strong, describes the one thing she found in common with the thousands of people who shared their stories of being brave, falling down and getting back up: “They understand the power of emotion and aren’t afraid to lean in to discomfort.”

Who leans in to discomfort? I mumbled. On the contrary, my entire life has been built around avoiding conflicts and praying away any and all things associated with pain, hurt, disappointment and sorrow. This too shall pass, we’ve said. I’ve dug holes to escape this thing called discomfort and buried my head, hands and feet in the sand. Am I alone here? Did I get it all wrong?


As I continued reading, I learned a lot more about the process of managing life’s difficulties and accepting these discomforting times as a groundbreaking part of our evolution. If we live, we are going to fall. We are going to fail. And we are going to experience discomfort. This is a fact. Lean in anyway. It’s in these moments, when we are lying face down in the arena of life, the author professes, that we learn “the most of who we are.”

This is where we give birth to courage and bravery, to acceptance and perseverance. Way before the heroes in our lives appear and way before we get inspired, the unwanted pain causes our soul to emerge brand new.

Think back to the stories you share with others. When you really want a person to know who you are and what you’ve been through to get you to this point, you reach back to the times in your life when you faced adversity, overcame obstacles or rose to a challenge no one believed was possible.

We tell the stories that brought us to our knees, because it was in these moments that we realized our pure, unadulterated strength and power. We forge out a value system and built upon our improved character.

We lean in and then we emerge.

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