Dolphins and Betas: Why choose a daily dose of discomfort?

For the people in the world who spend their lives seeking comfort on all levels, the concept of  "doing what is uncomfortable" as a daily practice is such a puzzlement.

And, what is uncomfortable for one may not be so for another.  But why push through fear or discomfort?  Isn't it a goal to secure all exits and  bank accounts, as well as to ward off lurking danger?  But is that enough to keep living life in technicolor?  Is that all there is?
I found a metaphor while discussing this topic with a friend, and I think the visual will serve many.
Imagine a beta fish. They have beautiful plumage for fins and a tail, remarkably vibrant colors, and are housed individually in tiny little bowls.
They require fresh water with a certain ph, food, and no guests. If you put them with another, they fight mightily. Even a mirror held to the glass will provoke an attack. They feel safe and secure all by themselves. At least, they always look calm enough. The tinier the bowl, the less stress is required to guard this territory.  Betas occur naturally in calm little bodies of water when not domesticated.  How catastrophic a large body of water might seem!  There would be no rest for the weary, our precious beta, as it valiantly fends off all threats!
Now imagine another marine species. The dolphin. The dolphin cannot bear to be contained. It loves ocean adventures, diving low and breaching the waves- playing with other dolphins, while risking its life swimming near sharks. Every day holds some new opportunity to meet other marine life and to chase boats, whales, scuba divers and other dolphins!  There is always food and fun somewhere. It is all play. When captured, life in a small water tank squelches its spirit. It is a cell block for their playful heart.
Can you even imagine the conversation these two characters might have?
To the beta, the dolphin behavior must seem confounding, bizarre and extraordinarily dangerous.  The beta could not handle the rough surf and all the lurking danger, real or imagined. The beta may try all day to convince the dolphin to become more cautious- but good luck with that!
And the dolphin!  Trapped in a tiny enclosure, with no other dolphin or stimulation? Safe, but bored out of its little dolphin skull with no outlet for its curiosity?  The dolphin would never agree to such conditions- and would most likely swim as far from this crazy beta as possible!  The mere suggestion is too much to bear!
These may be extreme examples, but I am noticing how many people in my life are committed to exactly this dynamic in their intimate relationships. Opposites do attract, and they do not always find positive  ways to collaborate.  This shows up in work relationships, as well as parent child dynamics as well.
When you find yourself unable to communicate with someone as to why you need to explore and live a risk filled, uncomfortable life as a daily practice, you are welcome to cite my example.  
The beta cannot be the dolphin, and the dolphin cannot be the beta.  The beta and dolphin will never meet, but we as human versions do.   We can always find a way to connect without making each other wrong.  I work at finding a point of entry,  so as to have a deeper, less judgmental relationship with the people in my life who matter most. It is a challenge and an opportunity.  (Admittedly, I work with my own life coach to keep me accountable.) I encourage you to do the same! 
 A Dolphin in Disguise!

Kathleen Troy, ICF Certified Life Coach specializing in relationships, deeper purpose, and times of transition. Email Kathleen at    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or visit her Second Spring Coaching website at secondspringcoaching.com for a complimentary discovery session. 


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