5-9-21 Being Comfortable With Discomfort

Being Comfortable With Discomfort

I used to seek a comfortable place in my head by denying what was truly happening and trying to replace my discomfort with a drug or a behavior. So…how did that work? Not very well. It only deepened my pain, and took myself further away from the richness and amazing embrace of reality and life. I can still use old denying behaviors today, and keep hiding.

To be OK with being uncomfortable doesn’t mean we are trying to dismiss our uncomfortableness. Instead, we aspire to become aware of it, accept it, and hold it kindly and gently within a larger, compassionate awareness.

If we quit fighting ourselves, what would happen? It might make room for Peace. Then we would be happier.  At times, we may not know how to deal with that; we find we actually do fear—resist—being happy. We need to ask ourselves if it’s fear of missing the familiar discomfort, or fear of not truly believing it’s OK for us to be happy. What would it be like if we made an effort to relax and to know, without thinking about it, that we are wonderful, flawed humans who can CHOOSE to be happier?

When our aspiration is to lighten up, we begin to have a sense of humor and we find our serious state of mind keeps getting popped. We can employ curiosity about the world around us and take an interest in What Is, instead of being so wrapped up in that little soap-opera world in our heads. If we are judgmental, we can even be curious about that. The more we fight our self-doubt, the more it fights back. We can choose to quit fighting and accept we are decent, caring, sometimes confused people who care about ourselves and others. 

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face…we must do that which we think we cannot.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” —Marcus Aurelius. We choose our state of mind; choose well.

Some have the misconception that if we’re happy with ourselves, we won’t change things about ourselves. Using this line of reasoning, it would follow that the only way we’ll make changes in ourselves is if we’re unhappy. This isn’t true. We don’t have to be unhappy with ourselves to actively change things which aren’t useful or are harmful. When we stop fighting, we suffer less and accomplish more.

Acceptance does not mean we are agreeing to a situation or action. It means we are
acknowledging that the event happened and is real. Acceptance means not fighting reality.

Zen master Seng-tsan taught that true freedom is being “without anxiety about imperfection.”

This striving for perfection, this seriousness about everything in our lives (including practice), this goal-oriented, we’re-going-to-do-it-or-else attitude, is the world’s greatest killjoy. There’s no sense of appreciation for anything because we’re so solemn and tight. In her book Radical Acceptance, Tara Brach relates a friend’s observation: “Feeling that something is wrong with me is the invisible and toxic gas I am always breathing.” Brach continues, “When we experience our lives through this lens of personal insufficiency, we are imprisoned in what I call the trance of unworthiness. Trapped in this trance, we are unable to perceive the truth of who we really are.” In contrast, a joyful mind is very ordinary and relaxed. So lighten up. Don’t make such a big deal.

If we feel we need to wait until this or that is fixed, or work a little more on something that our judgmental mind sees as wrong, before we can be comfortable, we will never get there. We must realize we’ll need to take a step into trust…a spiritual opening that is beyond our cognitive judgmental processes. We can ask ourselves how our judgmental minds have worked for us so far. Will such a mindset ever allow us to be OK with ourselves? Instead of having a fixation on how things NEED TO BE for us to be happy, we can open up to how they really ARE. We then choose to promote and accumulate those thoughts and actions that bring acceptance and peace, and unburden ourselves with those thoughts and actions that bring judgement and fear.

In meditation we learn to sit with discomfort. We don’t scratch every itch; most go away on their own. We also sit with the discomfort of not DOING anything. We learn to use the breath as an anchor to touch into the stability, strength and clarity of our true selves. Even if only momentarily, through the many thoughts, we glimpse a more spacious, calm self that is available.

In our daily lives, when feeling raw or confused, we can stop, breathe deeply three times and say with each breath, “I am a good person, I am a kind person, I am a strong person.” In this way, we confirm our basic goodness, and then we can move forward in a better direction. We spend a lot of time feeling unsure about ourselves and in fear. We NEED to counter these feelings with mindful, positive self-acknowledgement and kindness. 

We can start being the people we want to be, right now! It is like cleaning all the clutter and junk out of our houses—it’s become so familiar that it holds us prisoner. We identify with our junk. What if we were to replace the mishmash with a few beautiful pieces, and have a good space to be and to live in? How would that feel? The same is true with our minds. We can keep them simple, curious, spacious, honest and kind.

In our addictions, we’ve spent a lot of time manufacturing and wallowing in misery. But we don’t have to anymore. When we’re feeling all wonked out, we can call someone, do the dishes, work on a hobby we’ve put off, take a walk outside. Nature such a rich part of who we truly are, and is wonderfully healing. It is real and can’t be manipulated or dismissed. Whatever action we choose, it’s important we take a positive action when we are depressing ourselves. We can act right through the fear and resistance we manufacture. We can choose to engage in our lives.

As we become more comfortable with ourselves on all levels, we begin being more comfortable with making decisions which promote our happiness. We learn it’s OK to be uncomfortable with the strange new behavior of caring for and trusting ourselves, because we see it’s working. 

If you wish to be happier, drop the burden of disliking and distrusting yourself, and actively promote loving and trusting yourself. It really is just that simple. What we do makes a difference.

 How do you fill your bucket? One drop at a time
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step
The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for
May you be well. May you be happy. May you find peace.

Heart Of Recovery web site  — fcheartofrecovery.com


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