Finding Comfort in Discomfort

Why are we so quick to judge uncomfortable feelings?  Why do we want to push them away so fast?  Why, when we feel fear, do we also fear the fear, thus creating an even bigger landslide of fear within us?  Perhaps you don’t struggle with this.  Perhaps you welcome fear and uncomfortable emotions like you would a guest in your house.  I bow down to those of you that don’t have to think twice about accepting these emotions.  But for those of you who can relate in any way, read on.  And for those of you who don’t struggle with this, you are more than welcome to live vicariously through me!  🙂

A very important detail of this story is that it happened TODAY.  Yes, TODAY!!!  So even though I’ve spent a couple of years life coaching myself and 7 months in Martha Beck’s fabulous life coach training program, I still can get caught up in panic.  But I’m getting better!  And that’s definitely something to celebrate.  Once my inner wise guide and coaching tools kick in, I begin to set myself free.

I sit on my yoga mat.  I feel like I have just a tad too much energy pulsating throughout my body.  It’s nervous energy.  But there’s a reason for it.  After yoga class I’m taking a turtle step towards my coaching career and it involves face to face interaction.  EEK!!  This is my first attempt at talking face to face with a business owner in hopes to strike a small deal with them to help promote my business.  Emphasis on small.  But still big enough to make my body feel as if I’m thumping techno music in a room filled with meditating nuns.  Can you say uncomfortable?  And I know this feeling – this anxious, nervous, uncomfortable feeling.  This feeling that makes me want to flee from everyone and hide Meghan in a far, far away land.  So I sit on my yoga mat and notice my anxious energy.  And if it stopped there and I just felt it and that was that, the feeling would pass and everything would be golden.  But of course it doesn’t stop there.  My thoughts about what was happening wanted to get involved.  I started to think things like: “Oh no, I don’t want this to happen.”  “Oh no, I hate this feeling.”  “Oh no, I can’t feel like this.”  “I will do anything to prevent this feeling.”  I start to re-think my turtle step.  I can e-mail her later, or I can wait until next week.  Anything to make myself feel comfort and ease again.  But I want to do it TODAY!!  I need to be able to do these things!  If I don’t do it now I’ll NEVER do it!  So I sit in my yoga class and panic (oxymoron much)?  I sit and my body is shaking, my stomach feels queasy, and I fear the fear that I’m feeling.  And then it hits me.  Wait a second.  I’m feeling so icky because I am not only feeling fear of performing my turtle step, I’m also feeling scared of having this fear!  A-ha!  Once I simply noticed what was really going on I was able to detach from those thoughts and let that dirty fear slip away. I still felt discomfort, but less.  Ok, no big deal.  I’ll just sit here and feel my fear without all those extra anxiety-provoking thoughts piled on top.  I was getting comfortable in my state of discomfort.  I sat there and shook.  I felt my heart pound.  I felt the warmth of my body against the sticky yoga mat.  I even cracked a smile in my discomfort.  I got curious with what was happening, not panicked.  After all, what’s so bad with feeling a little fear?  I was able to focus on my yoga practice.  The discomfort faded away.

If we can’t get comfortable with feeling discomfort and if we always want to put ourselves in situations that make us feel safe and comfortable, how will we lead a fulfilling life and live out our dreams?  I stumbled upon a powerful quote in Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project” asserted by Robert Browning: “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s heaven for?”  If we’re never willing to put ourselves in these uncomfortable or unfamiliar situations because we are scared of feeling “negative” feelings, we will never grow as individuals and achieve our dreams.

So if you plan on taking hold of your life and coming out as the rock star you are, expect to feel some discomfort, but don’t shy away from taking bold steps that bring you closer to your right life because you fear this.  Just be curious about the sensations of the uncomfortable emotion.  Focus on what it feels like, not on the thoughts you have about it.  This will help you get comfortable in the discomfort.

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The Turtle and the Hare

Most of us move through our day at a hare’s pace trying to get as much done as we can.  Our to-do lists are long and our days are short.  And what happens when the day is over?  We try to fit in 6-8 hours of sleep, and then we get right back up with our new to-do list for the day.  And I bet you that we’re not listening to our bodies while we do all of this.  We’re buzzing around in our numb bodies, because that’s really the only way we can overwork ourselves.  If we WEREN’T numb to feeling and we were connected to our bodies, our bodies would definitely let us know that they need a break every now and then…

Are you unsure whether you are going about your day at a hare’s pace?  Ask yourself these questions to get a better idea.  Do you ever…

  • Find your feet tapping the pee dance as you work away on your computer because you JUST DON’T HAVE TIME TO PEE!!!
  • Notice your body vibrating or feel frantic while doing a daily task because you’re thinking of all the things you HAVE TO get done today
  • Wake up in the morning and immediately log on to your computer to check your e-mails, facebook, twitter, (insert any other social networking service you use here), etc. before you even notice what day it is
  • Not have time to eat a proper sit-down meal because you have too much on your plate.  Instead, you eat snacks in your car in-between errands, you “eat as you grab” (grabbing and eating random food from the cupboards while standing in your kitchen), or not eat at all because you just don’t have time or you don’t want to waste time

If these scenarios sound familiar to you then you probably are spending most of your day scurrying around at a hare’s pace.  (If it makes you feel any better, I’ve done it all and still do it, many, many times!)  If you have said a loud and proud “YES MA’AM” then you are in dire need for some slowing down in your life!  Yes, I know it feels good to get a lot accomplished in the day, and you might not want to or be ready to slow down to a turtle’s pace, and that is just fine.  Even slowing down for a couple of minutes a day can greatly benefit you.  The amazing Life Coach Abigail Steidley likes to describe this slowing down process as flipping your toggle switch.  When you slow down, you are flipping your toggle switch from the sympathetic “fight or flight” response to the parasympathetic “rest and digest” response.  When you consciously flip that switch to this restful state by giving your body and mind a rest, healing in your body can occur.  Your digestion improves so it’s easier to maintain a healthy body weight, inflammation reduces so oxygen can circulate and your body can heal faster and you get sick less often, your heart rate and blood pressure decreases, your brain chemistry is affected so you’re more creative, and much, much more.  It’s very unhealthy to be running around with the toggle switch on the “fight or flight” response all day.  Our bodies are not designed to live this way.  Making sure you take the time to flip the switch to the “rest and digest” or healing response and enjoy the life of a turtle every now and then will be vital to your health and well-being.  And guess what!!?  When you do this, you actually feel like you get more done and have more time in the day to do the things you want to do, and I bet you’ll have more fun, too!

So how can you add a couple of minutes of turtle life into your hectic life?  Can you take one minute out of your entire day to just stop everything and focus on your breath?  Can you slow down as you fold the laundry and stay present and out of your thoughts as you do this?  Can you take a couple of minutes to enjoy a good stretch in the morning before you check your emails?  Can you spend one extra minute sitting on the loo to just rest, breathe, and enjoy the silence (only if it’s your own beautifully clean and sensually smelling bathroom, of course)?  Embrace those moments that you can fully give to yourself.  Notice what it feels like to give your body a little rest.  Notice if you feel a bit less antsy, less irritated, and just a little bit more relaxed and content.

So what will you do today to promote your own healing?

That “Feel Good” Feeling

In my 25 years of experience with alcohol and drinking, no, wait, 12 years of experience…I definitely wasn’t tucking a flask in my pull-ups to take with me to my Chuck E Cheese parties…I have made some observations worth noting…

Drinking gives you that “feel good” that we all want.  Your body relaxes, your spiraling, stressful thoughts disappear, your body lightens up, your confidence skyrockets, and everything is funnier, just to name a few.  Wow, pretty good stuff!!!  Why wouldn’t everyone drink?  Unfortunately, there are repercussions, depending on how much you drink.  An achy or pounding head, a tired body and mind from a crummy sleep, an upset stomach, perhaps some vomiting over the toilet…ok, you catch my drift!  So here is one of my observations…drum roll please… you can get an even better “feel good” without those awful repercussions AND increase your overall health at the same time!!

Since I’ve been on my life coaching journey I’ve been able to re-connect to and feel my body and emotions WAY more than ever before.  I can now feel the difference between the artificial “feel good” that alcohol gives you versus the natural “feel good” that you can cultivate within yourself when you simply practice mind-body awareness.  For me, the alcohol-induced “feel good” gives me feelings of happiness, excitement, and confidence, but I now recognize it has a bitterness to it.  It’s not a clear “feel good”.  It feels fake and cloudy, and I can physically feel the detachment of my body and mind.  My body feels relaxed, and my mind may be more at ease, but my mental clarity and focus is not there, and my creativity is nowhere near as creative as it is while on my natural “feel good” high.  Now that I have strengthened my mind and body connection, I can look inward easier and faster.  To be honest, I’m not sure I ever “looked inward” before I started on this journey.  Checking in with your body and emotions becomes habitual the more and more you do it.  And the more and more you do it, the easier it gets, and the more peace and joy you can feel in the present moment, without alcohol!  This natural “feel good” tastes of freedom.  It’s clear, it’s focused, it’s authentic, it’s the truth.  It relaxes your body, it calms your mind, your confidence increases, you’re more loving towards yourself and others, your patience increases, you laugh easier…!!!  Do you want me to keep going?  🙂 The benefits are endless…you can navigate your life much more effectively in this state.

 

I am not preaching sobriety!!!  I am only asking you to notice your habits.  I love to drink wine with friends, but my craving for alcohol is far less than it used to be.  I invite you to take a moment to notice your drinking habits and why you drink.  What are you trying to escape?  What are you trying to feel or not feel?

…ok, now go pour yourself that glass of wine!!!  🙂