Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Have you heard this before?
I have heard it from a physical trainer in reference to working out. He meant when a workout gets uncomfortable, don’t quit, push through it and you will reap benefits later. Many times we give up or move on when things get uncomfortable and don’t see the positive changes that are possible.
Today, I heard this in reference to emotional needs. Think about your current “vice.” When things get uncomfortable, do you turn toward eating, drinking, smoking, binge watching, over exercising, or whatever you do to “check out?” I will run to my vice before I realize what is happening. I mean, when I come to the realization, it’s already too late. This is sometimes my response to being emotionally uncomfortable.
If you’ve been through a difficult health situation yourself or with a loved one, you know what feeling uncomfortable is like. While battling cancer, I had to learn ways to release my angst over loss of control, loss of health and loss of knowing my future. We like to have the illusion on knowing what the future holds.
Who hasn’t had many, many emotionally uncomfortable moments in 2020?
Even the people who look like they’ve got it all together are dealing with uncomfortable emotions. The people screaming for things to “go back to normal” are uncomfortable with change.
The people becoming agoraphobic because of fear of contracting a virus are uncomfortable.
People who insist on mingling in public in unsafe ways are uncomfortable with being alone.
People who have lost jobs and health insurance are understandably uncomfortable for so many reasons.
People who have lost or almost lost loved ones to this virus are uncomfortable with the cavalier way others see the virus or their freedoms, etc.
I am sometimes uncomfortable with working when so many have lost their jobs and I am uncomfortable with the way my work has changed.
So we all seek comfort in our vices.
But if your vice is one that is not emotionally or physically healthy for you, here is a strategy. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Just as in physical training, the uncomfortable moments can lead to stronger muscles, better agility and stamina. Emotional training may look like this, write down (or record in other ways) your feelings of discomfort. Explore why you feel uncomfortable and feel all the feelings. Working through your emotions will help you move through them and release them more quickly. Emotional problems linger and sometimes manifest physically, when we hold on to or stuff our emotions into the darkest recess of our minds.
Meditate. For some, this means reading scripture and repeating it over in you mind or out loud until its meaning permeates your soul. Meditation can be as simple as closing your eyes and breathing slowly in and out for 1 minute. This slows down your racing thoughts and slows down your racing heart rate.
Get some exercise. Get out into nature. This can be as simple as taking a walk. I’ll admit, I’m in Phoenix and it’s July and we are working on the 10th day in a row of 110 degree highs and 90 degree lows so getting outside may not sound soothing. I try to jump in the pool and float while listening to the waterfall or my breathing. Do some yoga or other exercise inside if it’s too hot or cold outside. Physical movement can help move emotional energy out of your body. Just turn up your favorite song and start dancing. More than once, I’ve had a release of tears while dancing or “yogaing.” If you are by the ocean, sit near the water and feel the power of Creation. If you love to garden and it’s not too hot out, spend time in your garden. You get the idea.
Read a book if this is relaxing to you. Cook if you enjoy it. Sing loud like no one’s listening. Play with your dog, cat or fish.
Do something that makes you happy. Look at it this way, feeling emotionally uncomfortable is an opportunity (and a signal) to release emotions that hurt and to do those things that make you smile. It has been said that feeling uncomfortable is an opportunity for growth. There are no failures in this classroom unless you give up. But as long as you’re still alive, you have the opportunity to try again.
If 2020 is teaching us anything, it is that change is inevitable and fast moving; and this makes everyone uncomfortable. But 2020 can be your greatest year of personal and spiritual growth if you can change your mind about discomfort and change, get comfortable with it and look at it as a teacher.