Sitting in Discomfort

Filed under Blog

I talk a lot about inspiration and motivation on this blog. I post what I hope are uplifting pieces that my readers find useful in their daily lives. Of course, life isn’t always uplifting and inspiring. In fact, a lot of the time life can be downright challenging and hard. That’s why it’s so important to learn to sit in discomfort.

Sitting in discomfort is a means of mindfulness. It’s allowing yourself to be in the moment, when the moment is uncomfortable. Usually, when we experience emotions that are difficult, we try to avoid feeling them and experiencing them. When we feel anxious, our inclination is to avoid the bad feelings by seeking out a distraction. An example most of us can relate to is having a task that is due and we distract ourselves by cleaning our desks, playing video games, checking out Facebook, etc. The task might not even be that diffcult, but it makes us anxious and we try to avoid it.

Avoiding negative emotions can limit our ability to cope with the challenges we face in life. It is extremely important, if we are to practice mindfulness, we must learn to sit in our discomfort. Like any muscle, it can be developed and strengthened with repitition and practice. Sitting in discomfort might be uncomfortable, but think of all the things you could do if you weren’t afraid to be uncomfortable – you could change careers to something more rewarding, you could leave an unhealthy relationship, you could write a book, jump out of a plane, start a non-profit – the list is endless. But, you can’t do any of these things without getting out of your comfort zone and to do that you’ll need to sit in discomfort for a while.

Here are some tips for sitting in discomfort. There is no right or wrong way, do what works best for you. Just remember, it’s supposed to be uncomfortable.

  1. Don’t Judge – We try to avoid feeling the bad feelings because we are judging ourselves. Stop judging yourself. Don’t assign blame or justification to what you are feeling. Simply feel it.
  2. Observe – Don’t try to analyze your feelings, but do try to describe what you are feeling. If you’re feeling hurt after an argument with your significant other think about how it makes you feel. Do your muscles feel tense, is your breathing rapid, do you feel helpless, angry, or tired? You don’t need to write anything down, but make a mental note how you are experiencing the emotions.
  3. Acceptance – Often we’ll negate what we are feeling by way of brushing the feelings aside. We rationalize our negative feelings like anger and sadness. Don’t do that. If someone hurts you, you deserve to feel the way you feel. You are not weak or less than because you feel negative feelings when someone hurts you or something bad happens.
  4. This to Shall Pass – Remember that all things ebb and flow and that the discomfort you are feeling will pass. While sitting in your discomfort remind yourself that you will not always feel this way and that it is a temporary state you are currently in.

Sitting in discomfort can make our lives so much more rich and joyful. Experiencing intense pain, instead of avoiding it with food, alchohol, sex, or whatever it is you use to avoide feeling bad, helps us to become stronger. Knowing you can get through difficult times without resorting to avoidance, can help lessen the anxiety that is produced by the negative feelings.



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