Out is Through

Growth is UncomfortableWho likes being uncomfortable? Anyone? Didn’t think so. We all have different thresholds, triggers, and definitions of the word uncomfortable. Companies make millions coming up with ways to help make us more comfortable. Eradicating all physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual woes is an impossible task but shifting how we view discomfort may be able to offer some relief.

There are many approaches to soothing ourselves when discomfort strikes. Our personality, life experience, and mindset are all factors influencing how well we handle the chaotic or unexpected moments in our lives. How we respond when we are feeling uncomfortable plays a significant role in how quickly we move through it.

Although you may not always have a say in what happens, you always have a choice when it comes to how you respond.  Let’s look at the most popular responses. Avoidance. Recoiling from things that make us squirm is a natural reaction. Thank you fight or flight.

No one I know would happily run at full speed, without their clothes on, to jump on a pile of knives. Sidestepping may seem easier in the moment, but pressing the pause button or pretending like it does not exist can compound whatever the problem may be in the future.

The flip side of this coin includes immersing yourself in the discomfort and becoming consumed by it. I lovingly refer to this as the get stuck and suck the joy out of life approach. If the goal is to give fear a full access back stage pass to your thinking and emotions then this is the method of choice. Not really a sexy choice is it?

A third approach includes examining the cause, feeling the emotions, and moving through it. Is this hard? Yes. Is it fun? Not always. Is it necessary to eventually feel peace? Yes. While this may sound very similar to the get stuck approach, there is a big difference between sitting in it in order to process it and feeding the monster to the point of exhaustion.

Option number three sounds like nirvana on paper, but putting it in to practice takes patience, wisdom, and a willingness to stop fighting the things we cannot control. It requires the ability to separate how something feels in the moment from the reality of the situation. Also included in this approach is letting go of the idea that all discomfort is negative or bad.

In the last five years I have felt uncomfortable more times than I can count on the cumulative fingers and toes of my household, dog included. Some moments I claim full responsibility for, others were outside of my control.

A year ago I sent the final draft of Switching Teams to the publisher to be printed. I know this because Facebook reminded me of it. The decision I made to share my very personal story with the world was terrifying. I lovingly refer to this day as the day I officially lost my mind.

The day the first copies arrived I could not even look past the cover. It took me 6 months to read my own book. When I finally put on my big girl pants and read my own story it was not pretty. Translation: ugly cry, swollen face, snotty nose, full on emotionally wrecked. I knew reading the story would trigger the emotions I set aside while I focused on the task of writing.

Getting a full blown case of the feelies while writing would have stopped me in my tracks. Guaranteed. My choice to avoid the emotions jacked up my anxiety and made me question myself on a daily basis. The fear of finding poorly worded sentences and sounding stupid was strong. Allowing myself to process the emotions was the only way I could heal, grow, and continue moving forward.

The bad news is there are no quick tricks or magical remedies to skip the hard parts. The good news is difficult moments can also be beautiful moments where our strength, courage, and truth about who we are shine through.

These moments remind us that staying in unhealthy situations for the sake of keeping the peace or avoiding change may seem noble or considerate but often creates a bigger mess. They remind us of our authenticity and that the only way out is to go through. They also remind us that we are in control even when everything around us feels out of control.

In the spirit of practicing what I preach, I have a confession to make. A story about Switching Teams is included in the latest issue of Curve Magazine. I hear it is a great read. I would not know because I have not actually read it.

I am a private person and knowing there is one more place someone can get a glimpse of me and my story presses my fear button. I am a work in progress and will find a quiet place and time to read it so I can continue to grow.

Instead of avoiding discomfort, learn to view it as a precursor to growth. This week spend some quiet moments thinking about your default method for dealing with the uncomfortable. Pay attention to how you respond to your thoughts, emotions, or situations and ask yourself if fear is in the driver’s seat.

If the answer is yes, my newly created Be Fearless Weekend may be something worth considering. Program information and details about how to register is available at www.befearlessweekend.com.

No matter where you are in your journey, know you are exactly where you should be and you are capable of getting through whatever is thrown your way.