There is a cliche saying ‘get comfortable with discomfort’
A few years ago I would roll my eyes at this saying that OBVIOUSLY does not apply to me. Now this saying is like a daily reminder about how I want to LIVE life.
About four years ago it hit me that I was living my life on autopilot. I was complacent in my health, my relationships, my parenting, my home, in everything [Running Makes Me Cry]. I just let life happen to me. Then I complained about how crappy it was [Mom Martyr].
Why was I stuck on autopilot? One part was that I never opened my eyes to my right/responsibility to be the guide of my life. The other major part was because it was familiar, it was comfortable.
When we live by default we will spend our daily life avoiding pain and seeking pleasure. It is the easiest way to get through the day.
And here is where we have let ourselves down, we think that it is normal to always be happy. Therefore something is wrong with us if we are unhappy (or even worse, when those around us are unhappy [Should ‘Happy Kids’ Be Our Parenting Goal?]). Then we feel unhappy about being unhappy so we turn to little ways to make us feel better and avoid feeling the ick. Usually we turn to the nearest available indulgence, an easy hit. We turn to social media, food, drink, complaining, judging, binging waffles, shopping.
I don’t say this to point fingers. I say this because I live this too.
What happens when we keep avoiding the discomfort of our life?
We tune out our emotional self and lose touch with how we are feeling and why (then we wonder why others tune us out).
We stop tolerating negative emotions in those around us [Raising Emotionally Intelligent Children].
We start to rely on these false pleasures to help us ‘buffer’ our negative feelings which might lead to addictive or habits we feel shame over.
We spend a lot of energy avoiding negative feelings and it burns us out. Which makes us feel even more crappier.
We just kinda stop showing up for our life because it isn’t ‘happy’ and then we are bummed out that our life isn’t what we want it to be [What is the Life You Want?].
For the past year, I have been practicing ‘being uncomfortable’. I wanted to live my actual life as it was, negative and uncomfortable feelings and all – rather than coast on comfortable.
I have made a commitment to myself to pay attention to how I am feeling and to the ways I am checking out and buffering.
I will tell you this, it sucks. It sucks realizing the things that make me uncomfortable. Try this, make a list of the things that you tried to avoid or flat out avoided because they made you uncomfortable. I made this list and it was gross to be so honest and eye-opening to the life I was avoiding.
It also plain sucks sitting with this discomfort. Just letting it be there without reacting to it or avoiding it. When this discomfort shows up my brain instantly spazzes into a fury of winces and doubts about it because it just wants to do what it has always done: stay comfortable, avoid pain.
Before I started looking for ways to let myself sit with discomfort I would have thought this cliche saying ‘get comfortable with discomfort’ was only for hustlers or bikini models. No, it is for everyone because everyday life is uncomfortable.
When your someone disagrees with you (like, my husband is allowed to think whatever he wants and doesn’t have to agree with me??!).
When you are alone at home and you feel restless or lonely.
When you are frustrated but can’t quite put your finger on it so you start looking for reasons to be mad at life.
When you are talking to someone and you aren’t sure if they dislike you or if you are in your own head and reading into everything (can I ever just assume the best? What is that about?!).
When your kids have been crying/whining/fighting and it is 4:52pm and you are mentally exhausted (every day) and want to punch the clock on parenting and just make the tension go away.
As I said, this is gross and humbling. This is the work of living life on purpose, of being intentional, of making a change – this is the work people don’t often share because it isn’t glamorous and self-promoting. . . . . But see what it is telling us? See where the light shines through the cracks? On relationships, on living a passionate life, on being responsible for your own feelings, on showing up in motherhood. The hard and life-giving work of experiencing life.
What are we turning to with our discomfort?
What do we turn to make us feel ‘better’ and ‘more comfortable’? Is it serving us? Is it life-giving or, ultimately, making our life harder?
We might be choosing ways of seeking comfort that are actually making us more uncomfortable in the long run. Habits, addictions, sneak eating the pantry every naptime (been there), pulling away from others. These things do not make our lives better, they usually make them harder.
As I wade through this mess of getting comfortable with discomfort, I am walking this journey alongside each of my coaching clients. This is where a lot of us get STUCK (I’m raising my hand too!). Because avoiding the discomfort prevents us from doing the thing, from taking responsibility, from making changes. Avoiding discomfort keeps us stuck which can sometimes be a lot more painful than experiencing the discomfort itself.
Here is the next step though!
When you are feeling uncomfortable it means you get to address it from the root cause….your thoughts (our thoughts create our feelings). SO GOOD NEWS! You aren’t stuck just ‘coping’ with an uncomfortable life, you get to teach your brain healthier mindsets to empower you and be someone who experiences peace, joy, sadness, frustration….. all the feelings, in healthier ways.
With awareness, commitment and practice you will move your mindset from ‘this sucks, I suck, I want to make this feeling go away’ to ‘well that sucked but what can I do better next time’ to ‘I did better this time!’
What does this have to do with simple living?
It is permission for you to be uncomfortable when you are faced with the tasks of decluttering your home, or setting goals, or changing your ways, or trying something new.
It is a reminder that feeling unhappy is part of living life, it doesn’t’ mean you are doing life wrong it just means you are doing life.
It is encouragement to listen closer to yourself and those areas that bring you pain, the ones that need our attention and presence.
It is hope that we can do more than just cope with life, we can live our life ON PURPOSE!
If this kind of thing feels overwhelming to you and you are ready for someone to guide you to the next steps, stop by this page and check out my life coaching services, and click below to learn about the monthly life coaching program: The Life on Purpose Academy