Apparently, I'm not alone in facing my demons. Yesterday, I shared my recent experience of avoiding my own avoidance techniques, and facing the demons that drive me to them. ("Dwelling in Discomfort Sucks") I asked for your input about how you deal with discomfort, rather than running away from it, or turning to numbing behaviors of avoidance. So many of you shared with me your thoughts on how we can get more comfortable with the uncomfortable feelings we may prefer to avoid. Thank you for your insights. I'll be sharing some of your comments here today.
If one of our higher purposes in life is learning, it only seems logical that seeking truth, and understanding ourselves will take us farther on our journey's path. One thing that spoke to me as a teacher in Brené Brown's book Daring Greatly was what she tells her university students at the beginning of their time together:
"If you're comfortable, I'm not teaching and you're not learning. It's going to get uncomfortable in here and that's okay. It's normal and it's part of the process."Now I imagine God telling me that very thing; that being uncomfortable is a normal part of the process of learning in this life. Embrace it. Lean into it. Discover the truth.
Brené goes on to say the process of "letting people know that discomfort is normal, it's going to happen, why it happens, and why it's important, reduces anxiety, fear, and shame." For me, being able to discuss what was happening with a trusted friend, and giving voice to my fears took away the power of the shame and the anxiety. I no longer felt paralyzed by my limiting thoughts.
In order for us to learn, we must stretch our thinking, and challenge ourselves. It's not easy, and it's not a comfortable feeling. We will be tested. That rarely feels good. We can take comfort in knowing that when we are most uncomfortable, we are being given an opportunity for growth and knowledge.
Many of your suggestions focused on prayer. I appreciate the words of comfort and encouragement expressed, and the time you took to share your thoughts.
What follows are the responses I received to my question:
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN
LIFE GETS UNCOMFORTABLE?
"What has worked for me and still does is writing out things that are true. Then eventually when I tell myself lies, the other part of me argues with the truth." (Anne P.)
"The reality is that some men do leave. (Trust me. I know this.) The danger comes in thinking that has anything to do with you or your worth or your future. Even if all of them leave - dad, boyfriend, first husband, second husband (yikes!) - it's still about them." (Kendra B.)
"I practice breathing intentionally when it feels overwhelming [and it does] and deeply rooting into True Love. I remind myself very gently that I do what I do until I don't and that the negative coping mechanisms are [were] there for a good reason ... I no longer mindlessly lose myself in sex, [one of my biggies] and I don't have to fight it ... food and busy-ness the same story. Illness, overwhelm ... same story ... " (Deborah)
"Realize what you are dealing with and make the time to deal with it. If you can't do it alone, invite a trusted friend who let you express yourself. While speaking aloud the issue, you are able to state how you feel. You mentioned you felt scared. Releasing the words, helps to release the feeling. While you verbally express yourself, many times you can come up with a solution or resolution. When I don't have a trusted friend to talk to, I find great solace in verbally pouring my soul out in prayer. I feel comforted and eventually calmed. Life ebbs and flows. Familiar situations return and we can choose if we want to deal with them the same old way or in a new healthy way. If we choose the latter, there comes a time when we hardly notice that the pesky or burdensome issue has returned because we have mastered a new way of handling it and it does not create the feelings within us that it once did." (Julie B.)
"I, like Julie, have spent time on my knees in prayer or even just wherever I am driving, sitting on the couch, in my office, even in the shower, I've poured my concerns out to the Lord, placing them in His hands. Then I get to work doing something I've been putting off that needs to be done, like ironing or cleaning or vacuuming, something that doesn't require a lot of thought, and I work out possible solutions in my mind for the problems I'm facing at the moment. Ideas for how I could handle them. Not only does it help me work it through, but I also get something done I've been putting off." (Loney L.)
"I've probably done it all, shopped, ate, drank. But in the end, prayer always get me through and God never lets me down." (Lisa M.)
"I journal my emotions almost everyday, and try to list 3 things in my journal that I am grateful for. When I need extra support I lean on my family and friends. I am slowly learning that pretending to be "fine" when I really am not is just lying to myself.....it is not helpful." (Laura B.)
There are many helpful suggestions here: writing, breathing, being mindful, talking with a friend, journaling, and prayer. All of these ideas will allow us to explore the feelings, not numb them. They give us something to do while our hearts and minds focus on the feelings. Enduring the discomfort long enough to learn from it is the challenge. With the help of my friends, I feel better equipped to handle the next wave of emotional discomfort that is sure to come. Thanks to each of you who took the time to share your heartfelt thoughts.