In 2016 at this time I lived in the remote jungles of Costa Rica. Amazing experience. I would not trade the 6 weeks for anything in the world because I lived among rare, wild creatures, I immersed myself in the perfectly stable vibe of nature and felt a peace I had not experienced prior, being 3 hours away from the next human being.
I also faced sheer terror, embraced a few dark night of the soul moments and eventually realized me and my wife were torturing ourselves by spending 6 weeks in a hut without electricity or plumbing.
We had outgrown the experience after 6 full weeks being detached from humanity and modern conveniences so we cut the trip short and flew home to America. Staying longer would have been counter productive because we grew through the experience until that point but as my body broke down, I saw myself regressing, by sticking around.
Initially, I felt a twinge of regret along with a wave of excitement when me and my wife accepted the house sit. I enjoyed being off the grid and relished facing deep fears, too. But I felt averse to being 3 hours away from the nearest human. I also knew I would sleep terrible on a straw bed with a ratty, hole-filled, mosquito net. I only slept 3-4 hours most days. Fatigue crept in.
I had to sit with the emotions of trying to avoid an uncomfortable, scary experience that would also feel fun, freeing, amazing and enlightening. Most of us avoid situations both freeing and fear-filled because we shy away from discomfort. The trick is to honestly assess when you are avoiding an important experience because you fear facing discomfort or when you are torturing yourself and need to move on from an old, worn out, damaging experience
India Red Flag
I almost died in India during our 2013 trip. I became dangerously dehydrated after suffering through giardia. One quick trip to the emergency room and 3 bags of fluids later moved my pulse from feeble to strong but I took valuable lessons with me, including an intimate knowledge of when my body began to break down physically in life-threatening fashion.
I observed the same warning signs in Costa Rica at the 5 week period of our trip. After consuming only 400-600 calories daily for 5 weeks – we had no refrigeration and I had to subsist on dry vegetarian food and little else – and sleeping for 3-4 hours most nights, I became depleted, borderline anemic and my back began to give out on a daily basis.
Soon enough, I would be back in the emergency room with either dangerous levels of dehydration or some nasty illness. I immediately realized that I was torturing myself by staying and called the homeowner from town to let him know we were leaving in a week.
Benefit then Move On
Benefit from freeing but uncomfortable experiences but move on immediately when the lessons taught becomes a living torture. Honor your intuitive nudges. Your gut always knows when you avoid growth versus extending torture. Life is not punishment but prospering. Everybody slams into resistance. All people face fears and suffer sometimes. But spotting the difference between sticking around scary situations to learn freeing but painful lessons versus punishing yourself with circumstances you've outgrown is critical to your continued growth.
Learn to discern the difference between sticking around for an uncomfortable, freeing lesson and moving on from a situation you've outgrown, before you get in real trouble.