Making it Better Makes it Worse

By Brandon Alter:

Last week, I had an ingrown hair in my nose, or a pimple, or something unpleasant and uncomfortable. I gave it a day or two to get better on its own, and then I lost my patience. I decided instead of continuing to put Neosporin in my nose, I would put some Arnica gel in there to reduce the swelling. Big mistake. Huge! Did you know Arnica gel is only to be used topically? Did you know it’s actually TOXIC? Did you know your mucous membranes are one of the quickest gateways to your blood stream? I didn’t. So essentially I poisoned myself. Isn’t that cute?


My nose immediately reacted and began to swell to comedic proportions; the burning was next level, and I considered going to the emergency room. Keep in mind I didn’t put together that Arnica was toxic until almost a week later, when this whole situation had died down. So there I am, in a mild panic, unknowingly self-poisoned with some weird ailment in my nose, which I have now made considerably worse because I couldn’t just leave well enough alone.

And that my friends is a perfect example of when trying to make something better makes it worse.

Often in our lives, we try to fix something that just needs to run its course. We want things to happen in an accelerated way, and that just isn’t how nature works. Nature takes its time. Healing has its own agenda. If we are committed to our own natural process of healing and growth, we have to be in it for the long haul. When we try to manipulate, we end up muddying the waters. So the best course of action is surrender. Yes, discomfort sucks, and it’s never pleasant or fun; but the tunnel of discomfort is the only gateway to actual transformation that I know of.

Learning how to sit with the uncomfortable is the price we pay for personal expansion. If you want a bigger, better life, you have to learn how to ground yourself in the eye of the storm, without fixing or modifying, without trying to make it better or easier. Because the only way out is through.


May you continue to pass through whatever tunnel of discomfort is currently presenting itself to you— and whatever you do, DO NOT put Arnica gel in your nose.

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