No, I am not talking about making choices on a menu. For me, that would be deadly. But today I would like you to consider something about lobsters that I find fascinating. First, please take a moment to watch this video, narrated by Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski.
Discomfort…we don’t like it. What do we do when we are uncomfortable? Most of us try to find comfort again. Most of us try to ease the pain of discomfort by distracting ourselves, by numbing or by trying to change the thing that is making us uncomfortable.
We are living in uncomfortable times. I have yet to meet a parent or teacher, or anybody really, that feels completely comfortable with any of the options available to us for returning to school in a few weeks. But here we are…we can’t simply pretend it isn’t happening. No amount of distraction will keep us from having to face the realities of a pandemic in our world. So what can we do?
We can consider the lobster. The signal for the lobster to grow is discomfort. The lobster’s shell is rigid and will not grow with the lobster. When the lobster has outgrown that shell, and feels discomfort, it sheds its shell and it grows. While it waits for the new shell to grow, however, the lobster is very vulnerable and needs to seek protection and safety in the rocks.
So what does that mean for us? Well, for me, it means that whenever I begin to feel like I have outgrown what I know, what I believe, how I am living or thinking, or who I spend my time with, I feel discomfort. When I feel stress or there is change, I feel discomfort. When I feel like I have outgrown something, or I have experienced stress or adversity, I have, traditionally, tried to stop the discomfort. But I am learning that if I lean into the discomfort, if I get curious about why I feel that way, if I shed my rigid ways of thinking and am open to growth and to something new, that yes, for a while I feel vulnerable and exposed. But during that time, I grow and build a new shell of protection – the skills and tools and relationships and a new understanding that give me a new perspective in the world.
So as we move into a new school year, or as you are navigating life’s challenges – relationships, jobs, finances, choices for your kids, etc. – remember that discomfort is the signal that we need to grow. Let’s lean into that. Let’s get curious about what we can learn and how we can grow. And lets seek protection in those relationships that feel safe and which allow us to grow and be vulnerable as we are growing and changing.
As Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski says at the end of the video we watched tells us, if we use adversity properly, we can grow through adversity.
And please remember, parents, that this decision isn’t easy and whatever choice you make for your kids out of a place of love and their best interest, is the right one. They, and you, will grow through this experience.
Be well, my friends.