There is plenty of content available on the web about growth and discomfort so I’m not going to pull much of that information into this post. You know how to find it.
Instead, I want to chat for a moment about what can be done to change how we feel about uncomfortable situations and knowledge.
Discomfort touches all of us. It’s a part of everyday life. We can’t not experience it. It is unavoidable. So what can we do about it? From Avoiding discomfort: the “comfort trap”:
- Focus on the goal, not the discomfort
- Be clear on how you choose to live your values
- Seek out more discomfort
- Think about what you’re actually avoiding
I am a big fan of Brené Brown’s books and articles. She focuses on why you should allow yourself to be more vulnerable and open to the growth that follows. For a short read, try Daring to be Vulnerable with Brené Brown. For her books, check out her listing on Amazon. I particularly liked:
- Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.
- Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
- The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
In the more specific DEI context, try this article: Why Inclusion Means Getting Comfortable With Discomfort. One of the takeaways is the need to reframe fear.
And in relation to the work being done by the Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, it’s important to recognize that discomfort is common. I would even say that if you are not feeling a bit uncomfortable, you probably aren’t digging into these topics deeply enough.
Sometimes folks feel anger when talking about DEI. There is a huge range of personal experiences related to these topics. When this gap becomes evident, some people may feel frustrated or even angry.
I’ve decided that I want to change one of my habits of resisting or avoiding that sense of being uncomfortable with a topic. Instead, I’m going to pause when I start feeling uncomfortable and tell myself that this is a good feeling because I’m about to learn something new. I might even share that openly, saying something like: “I’m beginning to feel uncomfortable so I know I’m learning something new!” Even if you don’t want to say that to others, you might try saying it to yourself and see if that changes how open you are to the new ideas and knowledge about to come your way.
Tom Salzer, WACD Executive Director
UPDATE August 9, 2021: One of my conservation friends also recommended this book about hidden biases: Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People