In my recent post, Lean Into Discomfort…How and Why, I addressed the trap of sometimes falling into the mundane patterns because they are ‘safe.’ And as life changes, sometimes those ‘safe patterns’ are not even an option so we even have more of a reason to lean into discomfort.
I received great feedback on my recent posts and people said they found it empowering and made them want to get off the sofa and live.
So what are the biggest barriers to leaning into discomfort and experiencing a full life and what can we do to break them down?
Here are a few that I have personally battled myself:
CATASTROPHIC THINKING – This is a huge one. It is defined as:
..can be defined as ruminating about irrational, worst-case outcomes.Psychology Today March 28, 2011
Anxiety about life does manifest with this type of thinking. This one is a tough one to fight. Here are some examples of this and yes, they look absurd when written down, but not so absurd while they ruminate in our heads:
If I go to place X (some sort of event that you want to attend), I might:
- die in a car accident
- Something horrible may happen at the event (fire and other crazy things)
- will have some health issue during event and I won’t be able to enjoy it (although you really have no health issues that are incapacitating)
- My e ticket won’t work or something int he process will be broken and I’ll end up having to go home
- Something physical will happen, I might sprain my ankle, collapse, get drink spilled on me, etc.
When you write these down, you can see how absurd some of them are. Can these things happen? Yes, they can. Are they likely to happen? No. Do unlikely things happen? Yes. So now what? Going into new situations is not like going into a battlefield. While bad things can happen, this type of catastrophic thinking should not stop you from living your life. Yes, we read stories about someone not taking a flight because they had a bad gut feel about it and the airplane ended up crashing. Catastrophic thinking is not the same as that, but it can be crippling.
Solution – How to fight this horrible pattern? Assess the risks against the gains. And just do it.
I recently fought the many reasons why I shouldn’t do something (e.g., it will be too crowded and the worst weather forecast). I decided to practice what I preach on my blog and not be a hypocritical blogger. So I went to a dark techno show and had a superb time. I knew I would love the music and the experience, but…there were buts. I had a great time, danced for 4 hours and was completely uplifted and recharged. Can’t wait to do something similar again.
Outcome: Did it snow? Yes, in fact had THE worst Uber ride ever where we literally had to leave the Uber vehicle in the middle of the ride because her car went sideways in the snow. Quick thinking on someone’s part, we left the Uber and stood in the snow and called another XL vehicle. We got to our destination.
Coming home was also a challenge with the snowstorm but we made it.
For many reasons it was a great time. Sitting at home or close to home was the easier choice, but the experience from that night was far more superb in so many ways. So yes, I leaned into discomfort and LOVED it.
JUST NOT THE RIGHT THING FOR ME
What does this even mean? Typically this come from imagining that whatever this event is, you will be the one who just doesn’t fit in. For example, you imagine that everyone at the event will be 21 and all on romantic dates. Or they will be 70 and on romantic dates. And they will all know each other and will look at you weird because you are not in the clan.
This thinking is fairly crazy too. The goal should be enjoyment and personal growth. These imaginary scenarios are typical fears but need to be fought because you deny yourself opportunities and experiences in life.
Solution: First think through these crazy scenarios, how likely are they? Not very. But take the worst case scenario, the ones with the fears that for some reason you will be an outsider…just not belong or be odd. This is common for people who aren’t part of the ‘mainstream’ and often feel like they are not in. Why, many reasons, maybe from another country, ethnically somewhat different, dress different, etc. That is even more reason to go. Don’t let society’s expectations of whatever you are limit your experiences.
Again, referring back to the recent dark techno event, I decided, who cares, I want to dance and hear and experience the music. If I don’t ‘fit in,’ I will just tune that out and enjoy event.
Outcome: I enjoyed the event, no, it was not a homogeneous crowd of one type, age, etc. Everyone enjoyed the music and dancing and got lost in the great experience. What a great way to spend 4 hours. Not only that enjoyed it but it helps me move forward with my life, and stop the rumination of why I should not do this or that. Did I feel like an outsider? Not at all, I felt very much like I was in the right place.
When you do things for authentic reasons, and turn down the noise of why you should not do it, you will find that you will indulge in certain activities that make you happy and you grow from. Hopefully you find others to share these experiences with, if not, don’t limit yourself. And sometimes you find that by leaning into discomfort, you discover your real self, like in that one ad, “when you were you.”
This same approach can be used for big career decisions as well. What career path should I take and so forth. I will post about this in an upcoming post.