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 six 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?
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.
THE COST OF AUTOPILOT LIVING
When we are on autopilot we are asleep to where we have control in our lives and how we can use this control to build up the life we want to live.
When we live by default we will spend our daily life in a cycle of avoiding pain and seeking pleasure. It is the easiest way to get through the day.
We are making decisions to stay comfortable, but in this comfort, we are also not really pursuing the life that we crave, the things that would be fruitful in our lives. We aren’t taking action that we would feel deeply proud of. We are just getting through the day.
And so, we aren’t doing much to feel deep satisfaction with.
We aren’t feeling happy.
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 (we double down on unhappiness). At this point, most of 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 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.
Living a life that fulfils us, feels authentic, feels life-giving is an uncomfortable thing to get. In my experience, it is uncomfortable to muster up bravery, to make hard decisions, to operate commitment rather than comfort, and to do the hard work rather than look for the easy way out.
But as we go through the motions, what we learn is that avoiding discomfort keeps us stuck which can sometimes be a lot more painful than experiencing the discomfort itself.
What happens when we keep avoiding the discomfort of showing up for 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 develop a very low tolerance for negative emotions in ourselves (and those around us [Raising Emotionally Intelligent Children]).
We start to rely on these false pleasures to help us numb out 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 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?].
Over the past few years, 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.
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. Things you avoid in parenting, in relationships, in your health, in your heart, in your home.
I made this list and it was gross to be so honest and also, so 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 (stress and negative self-talk) or distracting from it (give me all the sugar and quick fixes). 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 hustling mega-preneurs or professional volleyball players. No, it is for everyone because everyday life is uncomfortable.
When 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 your life, your work, your marriage, your motherhood. The hard and life-giving work of experiencing life.
The truth that we need to remember
What it all comes down to, what I tell myself and my coaching clients is this truth:
You can stay where you are, and that is uncomfortable.
Or you can make a change, and that is uncomfortable.
So choose your discomfort.
One is familiar and keeps you on this path of status quo. The other is new and intimidating but will lead you to the life you want.
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