Kaleidoscope 11/40: Pain or Discomfort?

Kaleidoscope 11/40: Pain or Discomfort?
A thermographic image of pain vs discomfort, with a kaleidoscope aesthetic, of course


Growth is a difficult thing.

This is true whether you're a little kid literally growing you bones, an adult who hit the gym hard, or a human who is stretching and trying to see things from a different perspective.

But other things are hard too. Things that hurt you — trying to go too far, too fast after an injury or a relationship that has become unhealthy or unhelpful — those are hard too.

When I'm in something, I tend to go all in and push myself too far. Which is why this question is so important for me, in particular:

Is what I'm experiencing pain or discomfort?


My first memories of experiencing the difference between pain & discomfort was when I was in rehab for an early injury.

My physical therapist, Linda, upon seeing how hard I was willing to push myself, sat me down and talked to me about it.

Discomfort, she said, feels hard, but also good. It's your mind (not your body) that is saying stop. It's kind of whiny – I don't wanna.

Pain, on the other hand, is a warning signal from your body saying stop this to protect me. Often our mind tries to ignore the signal. Its not always loud, but it just feels wrong.

Pain should be respected — stop. Discomfort should be embraced — keep going.

In reality, it's often hard to discern between the two.

Is this disagreement with my partner fostering healthy growth... or is it a signal that we're just incompatible?

Is the soreness in my shoulder pain... or is it my mind being lazy and embracing that as an excuse?

Sometimes, it's hard to know. But just asking the question is a powerful thing to do.

It's helped me let go and it's helped me hold on. Exactly as Linda intended it to.

Until tomorrow,
Rebecca