Yesterday, a friend of mine, Torrie Pattillo shared a quote that has been circling around in my head now for about 24hrs straight. She said, “sometimes your bliss gives you blisters.”
Joseph Campbell first introduced the concept Torrie was sharing. He coined the phrase, “follow your bliss” which unfortunately, in the hedonistic world that we live in, people misconstrued. Suddenly everything that brings us joy should be easy and light, and without any challenge or pain at all. Not surprisingly, he was later quoted saying, “I should have said, follow your blisters.”
But what does that even mean? Should we actually seek out pain?
As soon as Torrie said it, my immediate thought went to my weight training. Because, as any powerlifter or CrossFitter will confirm, at some point, you’re going to get blisters on your hands (and probably bruises on your shins too). It’s just part of the package. You get stronger, leaner (or bulkier), improve your health, and feel amazing. And yes, your hands can pay a toll. But in the scheme of things, it’s really not a big deal. In fact, we often celebrate a new blister as a rite of passage. Insert high-fives, fist bumps and big smiles here.
According to dictionary.com, a blister is “a small bubble on the skin filled with serum and caused by friction, burning, or other damage.” And the reason why they form, is literally to protect us. The bubble is filled with a liquid that acts as a cushioning agent because it’s had something pushing against it (whether that happens to be heat or another object) and our body basically says, “okay I predict this is going to cause us some damage, let’s send in some reinforcements!” Thanks, body! #totallybadass
In the context of the call Torrie shared it on, we were talking about following our bliss (or blisters) as the breadcrumbs that lead to your purpose. Which for some of us, yes may in fact be powerlifting, or fitness in general. Thank goodness for all the amazing and passionate fitness coaches, professional athletes and even the IG famous fitness folks who keep us going when we want to quit. But for me, although fitness is a very important part of my lifestyle, it is definitely not my purpose.
So here’s what’s been marinating for me. Because let’s face it, I’m a HUGE fan of pursuing only the things that bring you joy, the things that light you up and make you feel like time is irrelevant. FUCK YES to that. I don’t believe life is (or should be) hard. I don’t agree with hustle. And I won’t stand for anyone telling me that balance is a myth. But what I’m also not a fan of, is living in my comfort zone. So that’s why this quote is so important.
Let me share it again so you can absorb it a bit more.
Sometimes your bliss gives you blisters.
When you first learned to walk, you fell over. Scraped your knee most likely once or twice. It healed, you kept going. So yes it hurt, but only briefly. Here’s the thing though, you wouldn’t say that learning how to walk was painful.
But for some reason, when it comes to doing things that REALLY light us up, the stuff that scares the bajeebus out of us, like getting on stage and speaking our truth, or writing that book that you’ve always wanted to write, or becoming a life coach, or learning out to sing…we decide that it’s too hard, that all the stumbling blocks along the way, the blisters, somehow make the entire process too painful.
The thought of being truly honest with a loved one, just too painful.
Asking for help, just too painful.
Learning a new life-changing skill, just too painful.
Singing karaoke for the first time in front of your co-workers, just too painful.
Signing up for a half-marathon and learning how to run, just too painful.
Quitting your job and pursuing the work you actually love, just too painful.
Staying in a marriage that you’re miserable about, is painful.
Feeling like you’re all alone, is painful.
Avoiding the education you crave, is painful.
Playing small, is painful.
Writing bucket lists that you never achieve, is painful.
Working in a 9-5 that you hate, is painful.
Blisters are not hard.
They’re annoying and niggly and yes, sometimes they hurt. But really, they’re just a slight blip in the process. They physically make us stronger. We learn from them. And we grow from them. Which means they’re totally worth it! As any marathon runner will confirm, the high you get from crossing the finishing line after achieving such a huge physical feat far outshines any blisters you may or may get along the way.
You know they’re coming, so you prepare for them as best as you can, and then just allow the healing to occur afterwards.
And this why this is so important. This is not a “no pain, no gain” scenario (because gross, who wants to actively seek out ways to hurt ourselves, like that’s the only way to grow or get better?) No, this is about being realistic. The stuff you love, is definitely going to have tricky, inconvenient moments. Blisters. They’re coming, and that’s ok. You can handle it. You were born for this. Just reframe them into the beautiful little blisters they are; short-lived and designed for self-healing.
So what are the blisters holding you back right now?
Can you reframe those little inconveniences, the blips in your way, to treat them more like a blister?
And how can you seek out your bliss, your joy, the thing that lights you up, knowing that a blister is part of the process, and celebrate it with a high-five, fist bump and big smile? Maybe The Desire Map can help?