How do you deal with the first day at a new job, attending a party where you only know the host, or enrolling in a course with an unfamiliar subject? For some, these situations are met with a mix of excitement and healthy apprehension. Though for others, the prospect of being in a foreign situation can be quite overwhelming. Kabbalists teach that situations that push us to go outside of what feels familiar are opportunities we should welcome and not shy away from.
Of course, we’ve heard this before. Live outside the box! Step out of your comfort zone! Embrace the new! We know it’s good to try new things, but how many of us actually do it? Moreover, when we find ourselves in new situations, our impulse is to run for the door.
When life leads us into the unknown, it’s common to let negativity and pessimism take over our thoughts. What if I make a mistake? What if no one talks to me? What if I make a fool of myself? However, uncomfortable situations arise in our lives with a purpose: to encourage us to transform. Karen Berg explains, “Any challenge you encounter in life is part of a design whose intent is to help you grow and change. The more arduous the difficulty, the greater the opportunity it affords you to mend your ways in order to connect to the Light. This is true even of the worst situations.”
It’s important to keep in mind that the Creator wants us to grow and change for the better. When we avoid new experiences, when we do not seek out challenges, life inevitably brings challenges to us. It is far better to forge ahead into the uncomfortable things we see ahead of us than to find ourselves in the middle of a mess quite by surprise.
“The journey to God is an ejection seat from the comfort zone,” says Michael Berg. “If the signpost reads DISCOMFORT, we know we’re on the right road. When we go against our human nature, we’re on the right road.”
If you find that new situations make you anxious, remind yourself that this discomfort is an opportunity to strengthen your spiritual practice by restricting. You control your reaction. You can move forward with fear or you can move forward with trust knowing that the Creator’s hand is at work. Discomfort is a gift and it has appeared in your life for a great purpose: to spark growth and transformation.
Facing challenges with fortitude and grace becomes a habit over time. While we may still feel anxiety or fear, the more often we work through these feelings and submit to the challenge, the more likely we are to look past these emotions in the future to see the lessons we are meant to experience. And when we can do this in the most awkward and unnerving of times, we can certainly do this on a daily basis.
Remember, the first day on the job will eventually conclude, the party will at last be over, and at the end of the session the class will end—no matter the challenge you’ll be on the other side of a great learning experience. As Karen Berg reminds us, “By facing the uncomfortable head on, we can set ourselves on the path to reveal our potential—to become who we can be—which, after all, is our purpose in life.”