Day 37: Pet a Baby’s Head, Get Criticized

This is part 100 Days Of Discomfort, where I do something every day to stretch my comfort zone.

Because of a change of plans, the original discomfort challenge I set out to do couldn’t be done. It was 11pm. The day was almost over and I didn’t do my discomfort!

I was with 4 friends so I turned to the group for ideas. Their ideas ranged from:

  • getting pushed down the stairs
  • putting shampoo in my underwear
  • wearing wet socks

I don’t think they totally grasped the idea behind the challenge! So I clarified that the goal isn’t to be uncomfortable for discomfort’s sake. The goal is to push through discomfort in order to achieve a goal or face a fear.

Actually, the stairs one sounded good to me. It seemed fun with only fear holding me back. I fear the uncomfortable bumps along the way. Which is perfect! But the group protested that idea. 

Finally, we came up with an idea. I’m not very with comfortable kids. So the couple said I should go in to their baby’s room and pet his head while he slept. 

Also if I woke him up my friends said I’d be in big trouble. So it was a little scary.

How what it?

Neutral. But I was constantly afraid he was about to wake up.

What Did I Learn?

Hmmm, honestly not much! Which is what I get for making up a challenge last minute.

But, if I had to take a lesson: I found petting the kid neutral. So it validated my disinterest in kids. But I can’t be sure, because it was a small, makeshift discomfort. Maybe next time I’ll try something more uncomfortable like holding a baby. 

What I Really Learned: About Criticism

While the challenge offered minor growth, I found more discomfort and clarity in the discussion with my friends about my challenge.

My friends gave me a lot of criticism and feedback. I learned that they didn’t understand the challenge. As a result, explaining it to them helped me clarify my goals.

One friend suggested that trying to make yourself feel bad was mildly sadistic and evil.

I explained that the goal isn’t to feel discomfort, it’s to push through specific discomforts in order to grow. He seemed to understand then. But it was still uncomfortable to know someone misunderstood my project. How many other people misjudge me? That’s an uncomfortable thought! It brings up my insecurities; my need to be liked and understood.

But there’s no need for people to fully grasp my challenge indorder for me to grow. My challenge is for me. And if I do want people to understand, a small explanation does the trick.

Another friend criticized one of my discomfort challenge ideas on my list: Share my life goals with an older person and ask them for feedback. He said that’s not uncomfortable. Hearing him say that was uncomfortable!

If other people aren’t uncomfortable sharing their huge ambitions, I must be very weak!” I thought.

But, it’s ok if I have a unique weakness. If everyone had my weakness, it wouldn’t be a weakness. We can’t all share the same insecurities. This comes back to comparing myself to others. My self-worth should rely on my effort to change and my good-intent, not on how I compare to others.

Todays Lesson:

Reflecting on the criticism while writing this blog helped me understand myself better. Criticism is good. The specific criticism or advice might be flawed. But you can always extract some truth. Whether it’s truth about how you need to clarify yourself, or truth about how others experience the world compared to you. All data is good. But you must base your self-worth on your good-intentions and efforts, not the feedback.

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