Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski, psychiatrist and founder of the Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Pittsburgh, offers a fascinating insight into this phenomenon from the life‑cycle of the lobster. The lobster is a soft animal that is encased in a rigid shell.
Now, that rigid shell obviously does not expand, so how can the lobster grow?
Rabbi Twerski explains that as the lobster gets bigger, that rigid shell becomes confining, to the point that the lobster feels a great deal of discomfort. In response, it seeks shelter from predatory fish under a rock, casts off its shell, and produces a new one.
Eventually, this new shell also becomes uncomfortable for the lobster and it repeats this process a number of times, whenever it needs to grow.
“The stimulus for the lobster to be able to grow is that it feels uncomfortable,” says Rabbi Twerski. “If lobsters had doctors, they would never grow! As soon as they felt uncomfortable, they would go to the doctor, get some Valium or a Percocet, and they’d feel fine and never cast off the shell! Times of stress are also times that are signals for growth.”
With every challenge comes the potential to climb ever higher; to access greater inner powers. Instead of trying to numb the discomfort, we need to realize that happiness comes from knowing and experiencing a multitude of stimuli. Even something that is initially uncomfortable is often an essential part of our unbridled capacity for personal growth.