Life is uncomfortable. We often get tired, hungry, thirsty, itchy… Sometimes it’s too hot, too cold, too bright, too dark, too noisy, too smelly… And that’s just a typical day. On a bad day there may be pain, anxiety, sadness, and stress.
On top of all of those daily discomforts, there are things we avoid because we fear that they might make us uncomfortable – speaking up, confronting a coworker, trying something new, or dealing with a difficult emotion.
Stop reading. Ok stop at the end of next sentence. Take a minute and notice what is going on for you right now. Even if you’re reading this on a tropical beach in a hammock, I bet you could find something making you uncomfortable (“sigh…that breeze is too warm”).
This is life.
We spend so much time (and a lot of money) trying to get comfortable and then we buy more comforts to stay there. But life is working against us. Everything is constantly changing, making it impossible to be contented for very long. It’s a battle we are guaranteed to lose and it’s not worth the fight.
So get uncomfortable, lean into it, and then embrace it.
While mountaineering a number of years back I took a bad fall and injured my foot. It was swollen and painful, but not bad enough for me to turn back. When I took my boot off at the end of the first day, my climbing partners asked if my foot, now black and blue, hurt. I replied – “It’s just part of the experience.” I wasn’t trying to be funny or tough, it was just how I decide to deal with it and what came out of my mouth was the stupid truth. I had been doing these trips for years and they were hard. Pain and discomfort had just become part of the experience. I had a choice: I could embrace the discomfort and stand on the summit or I could go home and lie on the couch and moan.
After that trip, when things got uncomfortable for me, I would say to myself “it’s all part of the experience.” That little mantra helped me do a better job at dealing with little day-to-day things. For example, it’s easier to confront a coworker, or deal with much bigger, very uncomfortable things like:
- Sitting with sadness;
- Overcoming failures ;
- Managing anxiety;
- Handling physical pain and
- Taking risks.
I encourage you to change your immediate reaction to discomfort. And instead of avoiding it, move towards it. Instead of trying to fix it, sit with it. Instead of fighting it, embrace it.
So, how are you going to get uncomfortable?