The Value of Tension -Why We Should Embrace It

You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach – something’s just not right, but you can’t put your finger on it? Maybe it wraps its fingers around your mind in the dark just as you’re starting to fall asleep, and the thoughts are swirling in your head. Or maybe you can feel the tight grip on your heart as Sunday afternoon turns into evening, and your weekend is coming to an end and going to work on Monday morning looms over you. Or it might be the dread you feel when you think of a certain relationship. Maybe it’s just a general feeling of dissatisfaction – you try to distract yourself, but it keeps creeping back in like fog over a lake.

Discomfort. Stress. Tension.

Often our first reaction when we feel this sense of ‘something is not right’ is to try to just get rid of that anxiety. We look at our phones or computers. We watch television. We eat. We drink. We distract ourselves with whatever we can to just not feel that discomfort.

What would it mean to look at that discomfort in a positive light? As we are on this journey of finding our dream, our purpose, our meaning – what if that tension was a tool that we can use to help guide our path, to push us in the right direction – or in any direction?

Tension is valuable because is tells us that something needs to change. It is a necessary tool in our overall mental health – it is a sign of the gap between “. . . what one has already achieved and what one still has to accomplish, or the gap between what one is and what one should become.” (Frankl)

If we only seek to discharge that tension and remove the discomfort, we lose out on the most important purpose of the tension, stress, or discomfort.

The motivation to change.

We don’t need a life free of tension. We need a life in which we struggle for a greater purpose. If we seek to simply ‘feel better’ by alleviating our discomfort, we miss the chance of striving towards a call to purpose, a deeper meaning which only we can fulfill.

Author Jon Maxwell says,

“Growth stops when you lose the tension between where you are and where you could be.”

What would it mean if we embraced the tension? Or at the very least did not attempt to immediately rid ourselves of it? That discomfort is our heart’s way of telling us we are not where we should be.

Journaling exercise:

Think back to a time this week when you felt stress/discomfort/tension.

What did you do? Did you try to get rid of that tension or ignore it?

Can you identify a meaning that is waiting to be fulfilled? Or is this tension pointing to an area of needed growth? What other meaning or message can you learn from this time of experiencing tension?

 

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