Hello and welcome back to the Therapy Spot! This week, Susan Reyland returned to the show to discuss something called productive discomfort. A fellow practitioner of IFS, Susan is a clinical and developmental psychologist with a practice in Denver, Colorado. Previously, she has shared her insights on parenting and resilience. I was eager to hear what she had to say about discomfort, and how to use this all-too-common experience for personal growth.

Young or old, male or female, we have all lived through periods of discomfort. If you’re like me, even the word might make you cringe! The feeling often comes from change, loss, or other disruption to our comfort zone. So, what is productive discomfort? Shouldn’t we avoid that feeling as much as possible?

According to Susan: absolutely not! When we focus our energy on moving around discomfort instead of through it, we rob ourselves of an important opportunity. Unfortunately, many of us feel both internal and external pressure to get out of discomfort as quickly as possible. Let’s hear what Susan has to say about how to create a “safe holding space.”

When we’re in discomfort, the biggest mistake we make is setting a timeline to get out. Give yourself the time and space to sit with the feeling and, if need be, mourn the loss of the familiar. If that sounds difficult, Susan’s insights will provide a starting point for you to begin to see discomfort in a different light. Remember, the productive part of discomfort comes as you move through it — not around it with distractions and deadlines.

If you enjoyed what Susan had to say, I encourage you to listen to her two previous appearances on my podcast. You can also visit her website to learn more about her approach to using the IFS lens. Thank you so much for coming back to the show, Susan!

Image Credit

Burntwood, Staffordshire – Countryside” by Flickr user Mathew Bedworth, licensed under CC BY 2.0.