You don’t have to like being uncomfortable. You don’t have to enjoy it when things don’t go your way, when people don’t meet your expectations, or when life throws you a major curve ball.
You don’t have to do anything, really.
But if you don’t start getting comfortable with your discomfort, I can promise you something worse will happen: you will suffer.
If discomfort is a part of life (and you don’t have to live long before you realize that it definitely is), and we spend all of our time trying to avoid it like the plague (which, admittedly, would be pretty uncomfortable), think of what a waste of life that would be.
Trying to avoid all discomfort is like trying to make every day sunny. It’s just not something we have control over.
So the next time life gets painful, be it physically, emotionally, or spiritually, consider the following ways to allow yourself to be aware of your discomfort without trying to get rid of it or fix it:
There is more wisdom than you know in the beautiful Beatles song Let it Be:
When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom: Let it be.
So often, we hear the message “let it go,” when dealing with something painful. But, as I was reminded at the self-care retreat a couple weekends ago, it’s often impossible to do so.
How do you let go of the death of a loved one?
How do you let go of chronic illness?
How do you let go of a painful breakup?
You don’t. You simply let it be. You allow whatever painful circumstance you are going through to be there, as part of your present moment experience. You create space for the pain you are feeling but you do not make your ENTIRE experience the pain you are feeling. If you’re willing to be honest, you can acknowledge that while the pain you feel is PRESENT, there are many other things to feel in each moment too. Ask yourself the following questions:
Is it possible to be aware of deep sadness over the death of a loved one while still noticing small moments of joy throughout your day?
Is it possible to feel the pain or discomfort of chronic illness and yet be able to enjoy moments of peace here and there?
Is it possible to experience heartache over a breakup and manage to be present at your job or with your other daily activities?
The answer is yes, it is possible. It’s possible if you are willing to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, if you are willing to allow space in your experience for both positive and negative feelings to exist simultaneously. The question, therefore, isn’t is it possible, but rather, are you willing?
“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable” is actually an oft quoted phrase by the U.S. Navy seals, and for good reason.
If you’re in the military or a special ops program, you will be uncomfortable in so many ways. You have to realize that there is nothing you can do about it except let it be a part of you. At SEAL training, we were wet and sandy every day. It honestly felt weird after training when my pants or even my bed did not have sand in them. Getting over fears of heights and water are huge to building mental toughness and confidence to advance in life. – Military.com
Think about it. If every Navy Seal in training just decided they couldn’t stand the pain or discomfort of every uncomfortable moment, they would never make it out of basic training. There would be literally zero Navy Seals. Because although they signed up to be a Navy Seal, they couldn’t have really known what it would entail, even if they were told.
Likewise, we can’t really know the degree to which life will not go as we planned, though most of us are aware of its uncanny ability to veer off our perfectly designed course.
But let me let you in on a little secret: you are tougher than a Navy Seal. You are. Even if you don’t FEEL like it, I promise you have a reserve of strength within you that will allow you to be uncomfortable – perhaps more uncomfortable than you ever dreamed. And yet, you will somehow use that strength to carry on day by day – if you are willing to.
There are a few things I know of, that when practiced regularly, can help you build mental toughness, or the ability to tolerate discomfort. They are not earth-shattering. You’ve heard them all before. But perhaps, for someone out there, they are worth repeating.
Pray. Meditate. Exercise. Journal. Repeat.
Oh, dear friends, I know it won’t be easy. I understand that it would be a much better read if I could promise you “3 Simple Tricks to Never Feel Pain Again.” If it were in my power, I certainly would.
But then, I would surely be robbing you of an experience which could teach you something, make you stronger, and build your character.
You see, if every day was sunny, there would be no plants to enjoy, no air to breathe, and definitely no rainbows. The truth is we need both sunny and rainy days. We need both comfort and discomfort. And we can make space to be present with and tolerate both, if we are willing.
My hope for us is that we would enter into a willingness to be present with whatever we experience today.