Tag Archives: discomfort

Abundance Consciousness and the Art of Taking Full Responsibility

When we talk about ‘abundance consciousness’, what exactly do we mean?

Do we mean an attitude of, “Everything’s fine!”, no matter what is hitting the fan at a particular moment? Burying our heads in the sand in order to avoid discomfort? Magical, wishful thinking?


Abundance consciousness simply means a focus on gratitude; acknowledgment of all the blessings that are, in fact, showering down upon us. Right now. As we speak. And it goes hand-in-hand with the art of taking full responsibility for our lives right now. In this very moment.

For example… I once worked for a food bank in the southern U.S. My job was to inspect 360 food pantries in 21 counties, ensuring that certain quality standards were met. One month I was inspecting a particular food pantry. The next month, now unemployed, I found myself visiting the very same food pantry. But this time, instead of carrying a clip board, I was empty-handed, and asking for food.

In that moment, I remember feeling a wide variety of emotions, most of them fear-based. Yet I realized that I had the choice to either focus on what I did NOT have, or to focus on what I DID have. I chose the latter, focusing on gratitude, and it moved me in the direction of happiness and the recognition of the abundance that was already present in my life. I shifted my focus to my arms and legs, which were still serving me quite well. I focused on my hearing, my eyesight, and other aspects of my physical health. I thought about how nice it was to have a car. To have a roof over my head. To have the privilege of having my own apartment. Of living near supermarkets. And food pantries. Of receiving this generous offering of food from this particular food pantry on this day. I shifted my focus to my good fortune of learning just a little more humility… of knocking just a few more rough edges off my jagged little ego.

And I remembered that I had choice. I had the choice of getting fired up, updating my resume and getting it out into the world. Knocking on doors. Getting up early. Hitting the pavement. Researching. Making phone calls. Following up. Smiling. Being friendly. Cheerful. Polishing my strengths and sharing them. Working on my weaknesses to improve them.

Focusing on gratitude helped me to keep my chin up during this time, and helped motivate me to move forward. Yes, there were times of intense pressure that required keen focus and sustained action. Times when the adrenaline was flowing and my nerves were rattling. But my focus on abundance consciousness helped me to remember that I had many talents, abilities, and gifts at my disposal; that it WAS worth trying, risking, and continuing to get back on that horse, no matter how many times I felt I’d been thrown.

I’m not so sure I would have taken the same path, made the same choices, and maintained the same positive outlook had I focused on deprivation and all that was going ‘wrong’ in my life.

I chose abundance consciousness, but I did not choose to try to shut out discomfort. (Okay, maybe once or twice.) It IS possible for us to choose gratitude while simultaneously choosing to fully experience all of our emotions, including discomfort. This discomfort can propel us forward, motivating us to persist in our efforts toward healthy, positive change. While discomfort is, by definition, uncomfortable, it certainly isn’t in-and-of-itself ‘bad’. It’s a signal. A street sign. A tool. It’s information. And if I let myself sit in its presence long enough, I can come to the understanding that it’s my teacher. My cheerleader. Maybe even one of my best friends.

Abundance consciousness does not say, “everything’s fine; no need to change.” Abundance consciousness says, “Wow… look at all the tools I have! Let’s get busy!”


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Discomfort continued: A blinking light

A blinking light can mean a lot of things.

Danger ahead.

We’re recording now.

An execution.

A birthday party.

Photo copyright Tim Birchard 2011.

At the end of the day, a blinking light is simply designed to get our attention. “Hey. Look over here. There’s something you should see.”

Discomfort is a lot like that blinking light. It’s simply a signal. All it tells us is to pay attention. On its own, it’s neutral. Judgment free. It’s just a blinking light.

Once we begin to pay attention carefully enough, we can gather added information.

“Ah. I’m in an abusive relationship. It’s time to leave.”

“My pace is a little too quick right now. I’d better back off a little.”

“I just said something that this person doesn’t like, and he is letting me know he doesn’t appreciate it.”

If I slam on the brakes every time I see a blinking light, I’m going to cause traffic accidents. Likewise, if I assume the victim role every time I experience discomfort, I’m going to miss important opportunities to receive honest feedback about how my actions are being received. I’m going to lose out on opportunities to learn. To grow. To become.

Photo copyright Tim Birchard 2011.

If I simply relax and let myself become fully present in the moment, others around me may experience discomfort. As long as I’m staying in integrity with myself (not causing physical, mental or emotional injury to others or myself), I’m on the right path.

Another person’s discomfort need not by the measure of my own emotional state. Put another way, if you’re crying, I can help the situation by remaining calm. If you feel offended, I can add value to the situation by breathing and staying relaxed.

A finger pointed in my direction does not make me guilty of anything. A pat on the back does not make me a hero.

What we say about anyone reveals more about ourselves than anything else.


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Flavors of discomfort

Abuse is uncomfortable. But not all discomfort is abuse.

Discomfort can be used as a tool for inspiring change, growth, and transformation.

Photo copyright Tim Birchard 2011.

It’s important to pay attention to discomfort; it can be a valuable signal that we’re putting ourselves in danger, or that others are treating us in unhealthy ways.

People who are not aware of the difference between abuse, which is damaging, and discomfort, which is simply an indicator that an area in our life needs attention, can jump to the conclusion that any time they experience discomfort, they are being abused or mistreated.

Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries often involves bearing witness to the discomfort of another. Becoming comfortable with another’s discomfort (given we are not causing mental, physical, or emotional injury) is key to this type of growth.

If I clearly and respectfully state my needs (knowing full well that they may not be met) and the person I’m talking to begins crying, runs up the stairs, and slams the door, it’s easy for onlookers to put blame on me. “If that person got upset enough to run away crying and slam the door, then you must have done something wrong. Their behavior is evidence of your guilt.”

This is broken thinking. And sadly, it’s all too common.

If I ask for your feedback on my album cover draft and you tell me you don’t like it, and follow up with concrete reasons why you don’t like it, I may experience emotional discomfort. And at that moment, I find myself at a fork in the road; I have a choice. I can either claim abuse and try to make you responsible for my emotional state (“you hurt my feelings!”). Or I can recognize that you respect me enough to share your honest thoughts and feelings with me, knowing full well that I might experience discomfort.

Photo copyright Tim Birchard 2011.

In my book, this is the definition of true friendship. As Oscar Wilde said, “Friends stab you in the front.” I’ll take that ANY DAY over someone who tries to protect my feelings (and ultimately, their own) by being dishonest with me.

How about you? How are you becoming more comfortable with discomfort in your life? How do you distinguish between healthy and unhealthy discomfort in your life? In your music? In your art?

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