I’m fine with being uncomfortable.

Most of us have been taught to – and spend large parts of our lives trying to – avoid feelings that make us uncomfortable. This impossible task is responsible for unhealthy habits, negative thinking patterns, destructive self-talk and physical discomfort.

In my job as a mindfulness coach and well-being consultant, I teach people to become more comfortable with uncomfortable feelings. It’s not something people want to hear when they meet me, they want me to help them to feel better, so the idea that I am going to encourage them to feel all of their feelings (yes, even the ones you’re not fond of) is not initially met with much enthusiasm.

What does it mean to be comfortable with the uncomfortable?
When you avoid a feeling you are pushing it to the ‘waiting area’ in your mind, it’s not going away, it’s just waiting to pop up again. Often we tell ourselves a story to go along with the uncomfortable feeling that in turn activates our ‘distract and avoid’ patterns and habits. However, the feeling will most certainly surface again when you least expect it; and at the most inconvenient of times. I have had clients call me while they are on holiday saying, “I’ve just had this terrible panic attack, why is it happening now, I’m on holiday in this gorgeous place?”

The idea that when uncomfortable feelings arise, as they do for every single person, we should just feel the feeling and not create a story around it, is very alien to most people. We as humans naturally seek out the pleasant without realising that the avoidance of the unpleasant can mean we are missing signals telling us we have gone off course, or that we are not meeting our physical or emotional needs.

When an uncomfortable feeling arises consider trying this:
1). Turn towards the feeling with curiosity instead of fear and anxiety.
2). Ask yourself, “where is this feeling manifesting in my body, maybe my belly or my jaw?”
3). Notice the images that appear in your mind along with the feeling?
4). Notice your inner dialogue? Is it harsh? Is it kind?
5). Try to be compassionate towards yourself, recognising and validating what you are feeling in the moment.
6). Offer yourself the same kindness and compassion you would give a close friend.

Humans are prone to holding feelings in their bodies. How many of us have stress/tension headaches, digestive issues, muscular aches and pains that are due to the avoidance of feeling? We pride ourselves on pushing through situations and experiences and accomplishing goals despite feeling depleted, uncomfortable, unhappy, exhausted and afraid.

It is of no surprise to me then when I get a phone call from a client saying that they have had a panic attack on holiday. It may be the first time all year that this person has sat down, spent a moment checking in with how they feel, what they feel and where they might be feeling it. The simple act of giving yourself some time and attention may have let the emotional floods gate open. The emotions you had managed to ignore, distract and avoided all year were just waiting for your attention.

How to help yourself get more comfortable with and gain perspective of your feelings.
The following are my favourite and what I work with the most:
1). Cultivate a compassionate and steadfast relationship with yourself.
2). Get to know your core strengths, weaknesses and values.
3). Become aware of your patterns of thought and habits.
4). Prioritise time to care for, and check in with yourself daily.
5). Learn that to rest is not to quit.
6). Practice mindfulness meditation daily.
7). Become your own strongest ally.

Being comfortable with the uncomfortable allows us to remove a lot of the fear and uncertainty that comes with uncomfortable feelings. The fantastic news is by that by beginning to remove some of the uncertainty and fear, we can naturally begin to reduce our stress, anxiety, and panic allowing us to live a more calm, authentic and fulfilled life.

Take good care,

Sara Copley, MA. IMCPP
Mindfulness Coach. Mental Health &Well-being Consultant.

Website: www.thedailymeditationlab.com
email: [email protected] gmail.com

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