Lean Into Discomfort
Change requires discomfort.
By it's very nature, change puts us in the space of acting in ways we normally would not, feeling things we try not to feel, saying words that feel like foreign languages dancing our tongues. Because these are not our habits, they feel uncomfortable, unnatural.
I feel the most ungrounded when there a lot of change happens simultaneously. Even when the change is a positive one, like relocating for a dream job or getting a promotion, when I don't know what happens next, my fear response kicks in. Routine gives me the feeling of stability. So when things are shaken up, when I lose the comfort of routine, things feel out of control.
Since discomfort is the fertile ground from which change springs, if we want to evolve, if we want to continue to grow into the most magnificent versions of ourselves, if we want to fully realize who we are, discomfort is inevitable. So how can we lean into discomfort?
Reframe the Mindset. Being in the tornado of change can put us in survival mode. That means only the essentials become part of our life. We don't have time to waste placating everyone. Recognize that discomfort is giving us an opportunity to decide what's important. Discomfort allows us cut the bullshit. When we no longer are able to go on autopilot, we start to realize all of the ways in which we give away our time and energy to things and people that are no longer serving us. Simplify. Reduce. Use all of that extra time and energy to navigate through the unknown.
Find the Breath. Whether you’re in the middle of a crazy workout or yoga class and it feels like the world is spinning around you because everything is so challenging or you can’t tell up from down because shit has hit the fan in your life, your breath holds incredible power. That world spinning experience is a symptom of losing connection to the present and the ground. Discomfort can do that. It can disorient us because there is so much overwhelming sensation, so many stimuli. Our circuits are overloaded and the ground disappears. Chances are, the situation is not going to change. You can exist inside the space of discomfort by using your breath. The breath can only exist in the here and now, the present moment. When the mind starts to move faster and the thoughts turn into a storm, focus on evening and lengthening the inhale and exhale. Physically when our breath slows, our heart rate does as well. That tells our brain that we are doing okay, we are alive, we will make it.
Soften. Soften. Soften. When we perceive that we're being attacked, it’s natural to harden, to brace for impact. Here’s something I learned from Alexander Technique: if you get hurt, your body tenses up to protect you. Most of us hold on to the tension, clenching our fists or squeezing our shoulders long after the incident. In the case of trauma, the tensions stays with the body and mind for years after the experience. We feel the initial pain over and over again because the body still acts as if it's happening. So, what would happen if we softened after the initial incident instead of hardening? This is the work of many "non-traditional" forms of therapy. I'll refer you to The Body Keeps Score by Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk and Freedom to Change by Frank Pierce Jones. If we give ourselves permission to relax into the sensation, the discomfort, slowly the feeling normalizes. Softening, to some extent, means relinquishing our control over the outcome and allowing what will happen to happen. When the world is spinning around, our instinct is the exact opposite. We fight and cling to any semblance of control we find. Instead, breathe. Soften. Relax.
If there's one thing I've learned from watching thousands of bodies move in space, it's this: just because it feels not shitty, does not mean it's okay. Sometimes, we are so familiar with using ourselves, emotionally and physically, in such bad ways that the bad feels right. Over time, though, these continued ways of being create wear and tear on the self. Change is uncomfortable. Change is scary. Change is necessary. Remember when you are in the throws of discomfort that this is your opportunity to see who you are on the other side of adversity.
I believe in you.
Ready? Set? Grow.