Hey guys. Welcome back to the podcast. I am Amanda.
And I'm Kendra.
And again, here is my daily push to scroll down, like, and comment on our podcast. I wanted to highlight one that we just got this week from Sarah S 7 50 that says, thank you. I just found this podcast yesterday and I'm blown away. As a pediatrician who experienced burnout to the point of not practicing for just over a year now, it's so nice to hear from people who understand this journey and are offering incredibly valuable tools to help address the underlying problems and promote overall wellness. I plan to reach out about coaching soon. Yay. Sarah S, we are ready. But she goes on to say thank you for creating this resource. Just in the interest of reaching a lot of people, do you know if this has been shared on the Facebook physicians' , mom's group?
Sarah, thank you so much. If you all feel that there is a group that you would like to share it with, please do that. We have been particularly intentional about our own integrity and not trying to advertise ourselves on other people's platforms. And so that is something that you are allowed to do, but we have made the decision that we would like this to be organic traffic and, I dunno, how should we say it in a different way?
I feel like I'm stumbling on this.
If you wanna share it in whatever social media groups you're in, that's wonderful. We would appreciate it so much. We're not gonna share it ourselves.
Awesome. So today we are going to talk about discomfort and our thoughts around discomfort and maybe we need to reframe discomfort a little bit. So Kay is gonna lead. Give us a little bit of background information and we'll go from there.
Yeah. So this is gonna be a great talk today. I'm excited because I think it is very important that we reframe discomfort. When I think back on my life and some of the biggest areas of growth in my life are ones that were not so comfortable that I went through a time of discomfort or a time of pain, and there was so much purpose on the other side.
So, I'm excited to get into this with y'all. Laying a little foundation. We have talked about the motivational triad in the past, we talk about it in our course, we talk about it in several webinars that we have done, but just a little background, like where it came from, there were two doctors, one's a PhD and one, Science. I think you said A is a chiropractor or something. But anyways, they've done some research and in 2006 they published a book called The Pleasure Trap. And in it they talk about why we are driven to do certain things. And most of it stems from because they bring us pleasure, like overeating over scrolling, over, watching over drinking, over gambling over.
It is that constant feedback loop of pleasure, those tiny dopamines hits. The more you do to get that same dopamine hit over and over, it's just that feedback loop. And we think that, or what they described was that for survival, we are driven by three key components. So our primitive brain or the brain that we knew long, long time ago before we came as sophisticated as we are now, did three things.
It was motivated by seeking pleasure, avoiding pain. And conserving energy or being efficient, and that served that primitive group of people for a very long time. We needed to procreate to make sure our species went on. We needed to not die. We needed to not be eaten by lions and tigers and bears, and we needed to be efficient.
We only had so many hours of daylight because once the sun went down, you had to get in the cave, like you had to stay safe. So we had to become very, very efficient at hunting and gathering. So as you can see, in that primitive time, it served us very, very well. It was about survival.
However, fast forward, millions, thousands, and millions of years here, , we have determined that now we are a little more sophisticated, but we cannot separate ourselves from this primitive brain. It still brings us motivation. It still seeks pleasure. It still wants us to avoid pain, and it still drives us to be efficient or conserve energy. Hence why we always talk about those automatic negative thoughts are offered up. Our brain is going to offer up the most accessible thing with the least amount of energy required. And so whatever you've been watering, whatever you've been thinking about and propagating in your mind, your brain is, that is your five lane highway and your brain is going to offer that for you to go on because the five lane highway is quick, fast, and it'll get you there quicker.
Right? However, on the flip side, there is nothing about that that says we seek discomfort. It actually works all around to help us avoid discomfort. We're trying to stay safe. Anything that's uncomfortable or maybe, , promoting fear, anxiety is not something that your brain is comfortable, in that environment.
While the motivational trial, like I said, is great for survival mode in that primitive brain, it actually can impede our growth as a human being.
And like we said, we are in the business of helping you create your best life, and that is not always a. A easy B, comfortable or, c pleasurable. Sometimes it requires us to get a little bit uncomfortable, especially in that awareness phase for us to really get down to the depths of it, to peel back everything else, get to the root of it, and then, tackle it.
In order to grow, we have to experience some pain, some discomfort, and then it's usually on the other side of that, that we find our purpose. And usually it's something to be said.
It makes us more efficient, actually, it brings us joy in the end, and it actually helps us not go back to those places where it might not have been serving us as well.
I always like to think of it like our brains are like a bad epic upgrade. You know, we didn't start fresh whenever we got the human component of our brain. We started with all of the remnants before it. And so like Jill Bolty Taylor, the Harvard PhD says, we are feeling animals that think rather than thinking animals that feel so denying that we are motivated by these super useful evolutionary motivations. I mean, you can wish that it weren't true, but like to me it's just more useful to be aware of like, oh, no wonder I am reaching for the cookies because I'm wanting to comfort myself because I don't like this uncomfortableness and I'm just trying to soothe myself.
Like makes sense. Like it's an awareness about that. But this motivational triad that they came up with in 2006 makes a lot of sense to me, explains a lot of my behaviors, but knowing it now helps me choose the path that I wanna go down rather than just being on default mode.
I'll also say too, for that, like we just talked about that on our podcast that dropped not too long ago, about forgiving yourself.
Like that's also why we kind of go back to some of those things that we thought we were like delivered from or, or healed from or, or moved on from. That's also why sometimes you, that's like, the definition of an addict, like you are addicted to that thing that constantly was able to bring you pleasure.
And even though you're working through it through a time and that discomfort time, you're still vulnerable to seeking out that thing that gave you pleasure. And so that's also, yeah, why people keep asking themselves or they punish themselves and say, why do I keep going back to this? Why do I keep doing this?
And it's like, well, actually it makes a lot of sense. You can't separate yourself out from part of your brain. So sorry.
Yeah. Yeah. Newsflash. You're not broken. Yeah. Yeah. Like this is just what, this is what human brains do. Yeah. Well, moving on from humans to one of my favorite niche topics, lobsters. I have some random niche topics that I'm into.
Oh, a while ago I saw a video on YouTube from Rabbi Abraham Torsky. He was also a physician, a psychiatrist that specialized in addiction. But I saw him talking about where he is waiting. He's describing waiting in a dentist's office and thumbing through a magazine and came across an article titled, how Do Lobsters Grow?
It pointed out that lobsters are soft creatures with a hard shell, but that shell does not grow with them. It does not expand, and so in order for it to grow, it has to undergo the incredibly dangerous and exhausting process of it dissolving its old shell. Which then lead I was reading, 'cause then I had to go down another rabbit hole and find out more information about this.
Like it leaves it so exhausted, it can barely walk after doing this whole thing. And you can imagine a super soft creature like that. Who's tasty, as we all know, or maybe not all of us, but some of us know that's super dangerous. That's, that is not a time to be, you know, doing spirit fingers or something and attracting a lot of attention to yourself.
You're in a bad way right now. But anyway, it leaves it incredibly vulnerable to predators. And then not only does it have to dissolve, its old shell, it has to grow a new one. Only to then have to repeatedly do it multiple times throughout its life. But he talks about what is so interesting is that the stimulus to grow and to go through this horrendous process is the pressure.
The animal finally gets enough pressure, enough discomfort, and feeling enough confinement that it becomes worth it to do the uncomfortable thing and do something and go grow. And he just mentions like if the lobster had an option of popping a Valium or going and popping open a bottle of wine, or using comfort food or , zoning out with TV or, , eating all the sugary snacks or whatever your default mode is to avoid your negative emotion.
It would do it and then the lobster would never grow, right? So it becoming uncomfortable is a good thing. It is the stimulus that makes it move through it and grow. So Rabbi Tosky says times of stress are also times that are signals for growth if we use adversity properly. We can grow through adversity, and it just, I think is very revolutionary in my mind to realize like, oh, I'm feeling awful right now.
Rather than that being a problem like, oh, I wonder what this is trying to tell me. Like what is it about this situation that I need to do something about or move through, or whatever. What if it's not bad? What if it's just information? I'm uncomfortable for a reason and it's time to do something.
I just think that's fascinating.
I love that because the reality is that's how we create any kind of change in our lives. We have to feel uncomfortable with what has been going on and notice it, and then we can make a change. I love the understanding that we have now too, that , as we've been working on emotional granularity and learning how to provide words for the emotions that we feel that when we can notice them and label them, their power over us dissipates, and then we can use them as tools to move forward into something new. I just love that. And of course, as physicians who go through training, that really encourages you to just suck things up , and push your emotions down.
We, it's a skill that we really need to learn now. It's not something that many of us learned in our childhood. I think, at least when I grew up, people weren't saying, okay, well let's label that feeling. It was more like, no, you don't, you shouldn't be mad, you shouldn't be sad. You've got such a great life.
So now I think that kids being raised today are getting a little bit more training in being able to identify and experience both positive and negative emotion. But if you're a physician practicing now, odds are you didn't get that. So it's great news. We can learn it now. Discomfort really is such a huge part of the human experience and it helps us grow and helps us learn things about ourselves and about the world around us.
There's a research paper from Woolley and Fishbach that we'll reference in the show notes that theorize that people were encouraged to see discomfort as a sign of progress. It could be motivating. Traditionally, you know, we see discomfort as a sign that there's a problem, but if we see it as an opportunity or that it is part of our growth and progress, then we can experience it in a different way.
I attended a class recently he was psychologist at a university and he was doing a whole series on building your best self, and he did a piece about musicians and the research that has gone into determining the most productive ways that musicians can practice, and create their schedule.
It was fascinating. The most elite musicians would have a biphasic practice. They would practice in the morning, they'd practice in the afternoon and have a nap in between, and they would practice the most difficult pieces until it was very, very uncomfortable. And so this professor said, so now when my kids are playing piano and they're like, oh, it's so hard.
I don't wanna do it anymore. He's like, yes, perfect. Do it for 45 more minutes. Because that's the sweet spot where growth and learning really ramp up. And so what if it, what if when we're feeling discomfort, that means we're in a period of potential growth? So in this paper by William Fishbach, they had five experiments with a total of about 2000 adults.
They tested this prediction across various areas of personal growth, like taking improvisation classes to increase self-confidence, engaging in expressive writing to process difficult emotions, becoming informed about the Covid 19 health crisis. Opening oneself to opposing political viewpoints and learning about gun violence.
So these are all obviously places where people can feel discomfort. And in one group, the people were encouraged to seek out the discomfort and see it as personal development. They were told that feeling uncomfortable meant that the experiment was working. The other group was given some generic instructions to go learn something.
Nothing really about feeling discomfort. So those encouraged to seek discomfort as a signal of self-growth were more motivated, engaged, persistent, and open to important information, even when it was hard to hear. I totally believe this. And even when we are talking to our clients about time management, we encourage them to find the thing that's the most uncomfortable, the thing we don't wanna do, and do that first.
Going back to that old Mark Twain saying, what is it? Like if you have to eat a frog first thing in the morning, you won't have to do anything worse all day long. So just eat the frog first.
Newman wrote a greater good article summarizing this research, in which she says all this research goes to show that we might be judging normal human experiences like nervousness, stress, and discomfort too harshly. While our inclination might be to avoid them, they seem to be a part of becoming better people and living a rich life.
And I say, I one-hundred percent know that this. In any situation, there's going to be discomfort one way or the other. Now or later. I mean, it's very hard to find situations where you're not facing some kind of discomfort somewhere. You just have to choose your discomfort and choosing the discomfort that brings personal growth is gonna provide so much more fulfillment and personal reward. Then the regret of avoiding discomfort, which will inevitably come when we're trying to avoid our human experience by buffering, by procrastinating, whatever we're going to likely feel, regret, and I personally don't like regret, so just feel the feelings when they come and don't shove them down and cause yourself problems later.
I think a lot of physicians tend to be very perfectionistic, even if you don't think so, but we have very, all or nothing, black or white thinking, and a lot of us feel like we're not doing it right unless we're perfectly happy and blissful all the time. What if that's completely not right, like what if you're doing it right, when you're having a good mixture of both good and bad?
I really do think that that is the purpose of the human experience, but a lot of us feel like, too, that by avoiding having the hard conversation or procrastinating doing the hard thing that we don't wanna do, that somehow we're avoiding that discomfort. Like that's what our brain's offering up. Let's not go do this.
That's gonna be awful. Except for as a recovering procrastinator, that's not a comfortable place to be. It's horrible. Like you feel stuck. You've got this monkey, you know, on your back. You're not having a good time by avoiding doing the hard thing. If you've ever been in a place where you just felt stuck, you're not avoiding discomfort at all.
You're not. That's a miserable place to be. That's why we self-medicate because being stuck also feels terrible. There is a part of the human experience that needs to constantly be growing. I feel like people that aren't challenging themselves to grow from time to time like I am vehemently opposed to my husband becoming a curmudgeon.
I feel like, I feel like that's the tendency to stop challenging yourself, to stop growing, to get real settled into something so invariably, and everybody in the family is not initially pleased about it, but I'm expecting it. But like for one vacation, I signed us up for like a hot air balloon, and there was a lot of complaining, but like, I just feel like on purpose sometimes it's good to get out of our comfort zones because getting, I mean, think about curmudgeons, they're just completely stuck in their ways.
There's nothing new. There's a lot of complaining. They complained about a hot balloon. That sounds amazing. Well, I am glad that we did it, but I'm not necessarily, it was a little high up there if I need to do that again, but I'm glad we did it. It's off the, it's off the list.
Yeah. And I think though too that I'm with you on , the campaign to crash, the curmudgeon. Like I'm on that campaign as well in my own family because the, I think it's the primitive brain. It's safe, it's safe to change. Yes. Change or like doing new things is not safe. And I feel like husbands are really good about this. Not to profile or discriminate, but it's very nice to be in the routine and know what to expect and not have change.
It's safe. And that's the cave. Yes. And so I'm with you on the campaign to beat back their curmudgeon. And so that was one of these things that I adopted a long time ago. Our family tries new things. We're gonna try new things. My kids have heard it so much. They're like, oh, mom's trying new things. Here we go. Buckle up guys. At first I would get a little bit like, defensive, like, come on guys, like this is growth.
And now I laugh 'cause it's so funny, 'cause now it's, you know, of course a huge joke. Oh, mom's trying, trying new thing. We're all trying new things again. And I just dare him now. I dare you to complain. I dare you.
I saw an Instagram post I think by Alex Hormoze that was something along the lines of like, sometimes he gets really down and feels overwhelmed by you know his business and all of this sort of stuff and how hard it is, and he is like, but then I remind myself that's when everyone else quits. And I'm like, oh my God. That's exactly right. So there is a quote by George Aire that states, you've probably heard of it, everything you've ever wanted is sitting on the other side of fear.
And I would just take that a step further as like maybe everything you've ever wanted is sitting on the other side of discomfort. And I think back in my life when I was the most burned out, it was just information I needed to be trying new things. I needed to like look and see what's out there instead of just keeping my head down with my learned helplessness.
And I'm happy at work now. It's not that I needed to quit medicine, it's just that I needed to do something. And David's done this before too, where like he was complaining about his job or whatever. Then he goes on a couple job interviews and he is like, you know what? I really like this job.
Like it's, sometimes it's just, it's just information. Like it's time to do something. It's time to find out something else. What if feeling uncomfortable is not a problem, it's just time to try something new. It's just information and you can do with it what you want to. I love reframing discomfort that way. Yeah.
Yeah. That's good. Great conversation. And definitely let us just challenge you today, you know, wrapping this whole thing up that we would. Just have created an awareness maybe that the next time you do have, feel the feeling of, you know, something that's uncomfortable, that the thought may be not to run from it or maybe not to bail, or maybe not to buffer from it.
Maybe just to sit with it and just let it tell you, listen to it. Like what is this telling me? Where is this coming from? What is the situation that's invoking this? And then maybe it could be a time that you could actually utilize to take that next step to grow closer to that best life, to seek out more information, like Amanda said.
Thank you for listening today and we are excited to announce that back by Popular Demand. Our free webinar, what's the ICD 10 code for injury sustained in a dumpster fire? We'll be live Wednesday, September 27th at 12:00 PM So join us. Click the link in the show notes to get signed up or go to our website, www.thewholephysician.com to find out more information.
So until next time, you are whole, you are a gift to medicine, and the work you do matters.