Not many of us seek opportunities to be uncomfortable. But maybe we should. I believe it is part of our self-preservation – put the blinders on to avoid taking a deep look at what might actually be holding us back. Have you ever considered how your reluctance might be a barrier to your growth?
Years ago my husband and I started riding a tandem bike. He had been riding single for a while and I hadn’t ridden much since I was a teenager so it was the perfect hobby to enjoy together.
When my husband upgraded his single road bike, I inherited his old one. Suddenly, my role changed from a backseat passenger to being the one in charge.
It was almost like learning to ride a bike all over again. I had taken for granted the skills of steering, shifting, and balance. My shoulders ached and my fingers would go numb from the death grip I had on the brake hoods. Should I dare move my fingers from the brakes I might lose my balance as I maneuver the turns of the trail.
My husband was a great coach, riding alongside giving pointers and keeping me company as I acclimated to my new bike. On one of our rides, I felt exhausted as we neared the end. My husband was encouraging me to keep my pedals in continual motion which meant I needed to shift often as the trail went up and down.
As we rounded a corner he said: “You need to shift up.”
I don’t know if it was exhaustion or frustration taking over, but I quickly snapped at him, saying: “I will shift when I want to!!”
He was kind and gracious and confirmed my ability to choose when to shift. I immediately felt a pang of regret and apologized, blaming my attitude on my physical condition.
No sooner had we walked into the house when my sister called. She shared a talk she had just listened to by Diane Thueson Reich entitled On Change and Becoming: Thoughts from a Reluctant Grower. As soon as I heard the title I felt a nagging reminder of my reaction on our bike ride.
Thoughts About Being Reluctant
My husband is a very experienced rider. His encouragement and suggestions were to help me progress and become better. Yet I trusted in my own understanding, my own level of confidence, my own reluctance. I began to question: How often do I do this every day?
Just like my biking on a trail, we’re all riding through life gaining speed and confidence in our abilities. When it comes to things that are not my idea, it’s easy to respond with reluctance and even resistance. I’m really good and digging in my heels and pushing back when it comes to change. It’s a natural response because it’s comfortable. Not many of us seek out opportunities to be uncomfortable. But maybe we should.
The Growth Equation
Studies show both the body and the brain respond to stress by becoming stronger.-Brad Stulberg
This type of stress is not pushing so hard we end up in the hospital because we are either emotionally or physically injured. Stulberg is talking about pushing to just the edge of what is comfortable. Kind of like stretching. With each reach, you go just a little farther to push your muscles.
Stress is only the first part of the equation. After pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone we should follow up with rest.
Pushing too hard too often — stress without rest — doesn’t lead to growth. It leads to fatigue and burnout.” – Brad Stulberg
I feel like the last thing I can do when I’m stressed is to stop and take time out to recover. But the balance between stress and rest is essential to the final outcome of growth.
Stress + Rest = Growth
Overcoming My Reluctance
I consider myself a hard worker. I can be the most determined and purposeful person when I set my mind to something; yet, I have this other side – my reluctant alter ego. It is slow to adapt to change, and challenges opportunities to grow because they seem uncomfortable.
It is not easy to overcome my reluctant side. My hard heart and proud attitude feed my resistance. But time has taught me a few things. When I trust my own knowledge and understanding, my growth usually becomes stagnant; but my perspective changes little by little when I work to keep an open mind and soft heart. I’ve come to realize I can do almost anything, but I cannot be anything without working to grow.
The Difference Between Doing and Being
I can be a taskmaster when it comes to lists and checking off things to do, but I think I’ve got the order of things a little mixed up. We become what we set our hearts upon, and if our desire is to do something without stopping to think about what we are becoming we might be surprised at what we end up being.
Heavenly Father does not just want me to do something; He wants me to become something. When I am striving to become, my heart will turn toward the things that I must do.”Diane Thueson Reich
I’ve always had a sort of fascination with the use of the word heart. People can be described as hard-hearted, having a brave heart, or being pure in heart. Our heart is the keeper of our deepest dreams and desires. The condition of our heart is a reflection of our soul.
Those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit are willing to do anything and everything that God asks of them, without resistance or resentment. We cease doing things our way and learn to do them God’s way instead. In such a condition of submissiveness, the Atonement can take effect and true repentance can occur.”Bruce D. Porter
When it comes to being and becoming it all is dependent on my heart.
What Reluctance Has Taught Me
Maybe some of this has resonated with you, maybe it hasn’t. For me, it has been a sort of wake-up call. When I get caught up in doing this my way, my reluctance to learn and grow keeps me from moving in the direction I want to go. Who I want to become is not aligning with who I am.
So today I’m not going to try to be an expert road bike rider, but maybe I’ll accept being just a little better than I was yesterday because I practiced making progress today.