There was a time in my life when I wouldn’t allow myself to feel uncomfortable. If I was in a particular situation I didn’t want to be in, I would lie to myself and try to convince myself that everything was ok, or I would simply come up with an excuse and bow out. In fact when I was a child I would constantly try to get out of going to school because being at school just made me uncomfortable. Or if there was a relationship in which I felt the other person wasn’t satisfied with me, instead of allowing myself to sit with those feelings, I would go to great lengths as soon as humanly possible to try to mend the perceived rift. I just didn’t think I could cope with feeling uncomfortable. This was extremely dangerous for me. Over the years I found myself doing all kinds of things that were self-destructive, just so that I wouldn’t feel things like loneliness, heart ache, dissatisfaction, anger, fear, shame, ____________, etc. Slowly over time I began to lose all sight of who I was, what I wanted, and how I could live into my purpose. This unwillingness to sit with any awkward feelings was one of the main reasons I ended up spending years in a downward spiral trying to hide in substance abuse and dysfunctional relationships. Fortunately when I hit rock bottom, I had people to turn to.
After cleaning up and getting some clarity, I eventually began to realize that my addiction wasn’t to cocaine. My addiction was to not feeling uncomfortable and going to any length in order to hide from any and all dissatisfaction. As I’ve said before, the problem with trying to negate what some consider negative emotions is that you end up negating all emotions. We can’t just selectively turn off part of our emotions and expect to feel the others. So when you shut out feelings like anger, sadness, discomfort, you also shut out joy, elation, satisfaction, etc. But there is another way.
It is the way of courage. It is the way of hope. It is the way of allowing yourself to fully feel any and all emotions. Brene Brown, in ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ details the power and the benefits of allowing yourself to be fully present with all of your feelings. This takes some practice and isn’t something that just happens over night. It takes constant reminders and the courage when we begin to feel uncomfortable to not shut down.
One thing that helps is to ask questions. Why does this situation always make me feel uncomfortable. What is the precise emotion I am feeling that makes me want to run or hide? Why do I think that person is unhappy with me? Are they really? Does it really matter? Sitting with these questions will yield answers. These answers won’t come from the external world… they will come from deep within you.
The more comfortable you can grow so that you can sit with the uncomfortable in your life, the better quality of life you will have. Things won’t sneak up on you as much. You’ll recognize what triggers you and sends you for a loop before it actually locks you into the roller coaster and launches onto the tracks.
So what does trigger you? What emotions do you avoid? How often do you lie to yourself and say ‘nothings really wrong’? Once you’ve sat with those negative feelings long enough, they lose the power over you that they once had. You’ll find yourself able to make clear decisions based on who you are and what you want, as opposed to making decisions based on how to avoid feeling awkward or uncomfortable.
So sit with it. Sit with it all. What once felt impossible to deal with will seem like a very little problem indeed.