- Elon Musk, Investor & Entrepreneur
In life, there are many times when we feel uncomfortable. Difficulties arise, seemingly from nowhere. How we manage our emotions, reactions, and interpretations of these difficulties can determine our successes or failures. Learning how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable can give us the grounding we need to move forward effectively.
Sure, indeed, we would rather things be easy. It would make life a whole lot simpler if we did not have to concern ourselves with uncertain outcomes. But to achieve some things we cannot take the easy road. Sometimes we must take risks and those risks have unknown consequences. That lack of knowledge, that uncertainty can cause us to lose track of our goals. Lucky for us, people throughout the ages have discovered ways to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Below we will share some of the best ways to improve our outlook when things look grim. We will explore the ideas and techniques that come from psychology and self-help. We will also cover topics like mindfulness meditation and yoga to prepare the mind and body to deal with difficult situations. Mastering just one of these will give you good results. Putting several of them into practice could change your life.
A FOUNDATION IN MEDITATION
Learning mindfulness meditation will teach you how to remain present when uncomfortable situations rear their ugly heads. It works by teaching us how to stay focused and on task despite the distraction of worry. We learn how to remain consciously aware of our own ability to stay calm, cool, and collected even in the face of uncertainty.
Here is how it works. When you first learn to meditate you are given two directions. Direction one is to keep a relaxed but upright posture. Direction two is focusing on the breath. You will find that it is difficult to stay concentrated on these two things. That is because the mind wants to think about all the problems of our lives.
The mind wants to think about the bill that is due, what is for dinner or that thing you said to your colleague that was a little embarrassing. The problem here is that the mind will keep going on like this until your entire meditation is over and you realize you did not meditate at all. So, what do meditation teachers tell us? Call your mind out.
When you are meditating and you notice your mind is wandering, you simply say to yourself, “Thinking.” In psychology, this is called labeling. You are acknowledging the activity. As soon as you label the thinking as thinking, you turn your attention back to your breath and posture. This is a practice. The more you practice, the better you get. But how does this translate into getting comfortable with being uncomfortable?
Well, the same thing happens in your day to day life. Perhaps you are at work and there is an uncomfortable reminder of a past embarrassment. Or maybe a co-worker has said something inappropriate, or any other sort of discomfort. You can do the same thing you learned in meditation. Simply label it in your mind as a distraction and then refocus your attention on the task at hand.
PUSH THE ENVELOPE
Meditation teaches us a foundational principle, but it does not always work at the moment. It is hard to remember to label and refocus when we are caught up in distractive thinking or an uncomfortable interaction. Sometimes all we can do is push through.
Learning how to grin and bear it is a difficult task, but it will be worth the effort. Anything you can do to learn how to function professionally, respectfully during a difficult interaction, and push through the discomfort will improve your mindset. You will come away from the situation knowing that you did not react poorly. That will boost your confidence and serve as a good reminder the next time an uncomfortable situation arises.
Yoga is a great way to learn how to mentally push through uncomfortable situations. In yoga, you are learning difficult poses and postures. You are required to hold those postures without falling. You are also required to stay focused on breathing. This is great training for pushing through in uncomfortable moments.
QUICK TIPS FOR EMBRACING DISCOMFORT
Here are some quick extras that may help you to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Let them serve as simple ways to adjust and cope when difficulties pop up. You do not have to memorize all of them but committing one or two to memory might serve you well in the future. Of course, having them all readily available in your mind will certainly seem like a blessing when you need a quick fix for an uncomfortable scenario.
- Reframe – change your perspective. Remind yourself there are no difficult situations, only learning experiences. This is an opportunity for growth and expansion.
- Ask yourself a question – how are you talking to yourself in uncomfortable moments? If you are talking yourself down it would be wise to ask yourself, “Is this true?” and “How do you know?” The answers may surprise you. They will distract you.
- Hold fast – do not run away from discomfort. The more you develop your ability to sit with uncomfortable situations the stronger you will become. That is not to say you need to tolerate abuse but being able to maintain a strong stance when things get weird is an attribute.
- Remember what it means to be human – remind yourself of the greatest of human qualities like empathy, courage, compassion, endurance, and connection. Do not let your presence of mind become hijacked by fear, competitiveness, or being controlling.
These are some simple reminders and quick tricks you can train yourself to recall. It is remarkable how taking a step back in your mind to remember the virtues of courage or patience can do to stimulate resilience in the face of difficulty. Simply put, those basic ideas we learn as children can still make a difference in our lives to this day. That is true even in hectic and uncertain times.
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Thought leaders & celebrities share their tactics for success on the Lisnic podcast by Lisa Teh & Nick Bell