You know, as a therapist, I’m consistently informing people that discomfort leads to change.
I mean, who changes when everything is nice and cozy? Nobody is at their ideal weight, job, or relationship then wakes up and says, “Ha, I need to do something different.” Nope, not at all.
The science behind it is homeostasis - or stability, and we feel safe in stability. But when discomfort comes, we get scared or active; and if it’s the former (scared), we avoid everything and the discomfort builds… but if it’s the latter (active), we change.
So here’s the thing with toxic environments, they do exist, many of them in fact.
But here’s the other thing with toxic environments- some of them aren’t toxic….
They are just an impetus from the universe to create an experience for you to change. If considered through a positive lens, this change has a purpose, an opportunity for growth and transformation, and something beautiful (like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis) can emerge. The challenge for some of us is that- when confronted with a need to change, we get upset at the impetus. We get upset at the force, and that force can be a person, an environment, a situation, or whatever. Whatever it is, we get upset with it because, 1. We don’t like to be forced, 2. We don’t like discomfort, and 3. We don’t like to feel unstable, insecure, or unaware. So, we get upset and call it toxic.
But let’s consider it through a constructive lens.
Experience that causes discomfort 🡪 Acknowledgement of the discomfort 🡪 Critical reflection of why the discomfort is occurring (where and when do you need to make a positive change? How can this change be connected to your purpose? How can this change be connected to the next (positive) step in your life?) 🡪 Make a decision to change 🡪 Create 2-3 things to do that align with this change 🡪 Then change 😊 Yup, just like that …..Transformation.
So, let’s start adding in a few more steps of emotional intelligence (self-awareness, self-reflection, motivation) before we jump to the conclusion that something is toxic… versus transformational.