How to Sit With Discomfort

Let’s be real, a lot of things in life are uncomfortable. We all experience discomfort, both physical and mental, frequently throughout the day. This can range from mild discomfort, like an itchy sweater, to extreme discomfort with anxious thoughts. It’s also important to recognize that mental discomfort can even manifest itself with physical symptoms - the two go hand-in-hand! Holding a difficult yoga pose for an extended amount of time, for example, can bring about more than just physical discomfort, but mental discomfort too. If you’re anything like me, you have an internal battle in your mind to hold the pose for as long as you possibly can. The mental game here is to decide how long you are capable of holding the pose for, as you grapple with the pain and the motivation to keep going. The same game applies to mental discomfort, as we try our best to last as long as we can in an uncomfortable situation and try to make it better.


The first step in sitting with discomfort is to notice the feeling. Once you notice that you’re uncomfortable, you get to decide what happens next - you can numb the feeling, or acknowledge it. If you choose to numb/ignore the feeling, you’ll never address the underlying problem and the feeling of discomfort will ultimately persist. Trying to avoid the painful sensations will only result in more pain in the long run. However, resisting the feeling of discomfort is natural, as no one likes being uncomfortable - humans naturally avoid pain and seek pleasure, so it makes sense that we would want to simply avoid the feelings of discomfort when we can. Next time, try acknowledging the discomfort and resistance. After noticing your resistance to this sensation, take a deep breath and remind yourself that it is only temporary.


However, if you choose to acknowledge the feeling you can eventually move past it. Simply acknowledging discomfort gives you the power to make changes. Next, really feel the discomfort, and notice how it makes you feel in your body. Does your head hurt, or is your heart racing? Or are you in pain anywhere? Acknowledge these sensations as temporary, and remind yourself that you CAN get through this. Tell yourself that you are fully capable of doing what you put your mind to. For me, the biggest feat of continuing on through something uncomfortable is believing that I can get through it. As time passes, your anxiety and stress will decline, as you gradually get more comfortable. Sit with it, and notice how you’ll slowly accept it. Practice pushing yourself to your limits of discomfort, and try to push those limits a little more each time. Set goals to sit through your discomfort little by little. Your tolerance for discomfort will gradually increase as time passes, and getting through it will get easier.


The key to sitting with discomfort is to focus on the present moment. Remind yourself that everything passes, both pleasant feelings and unpleasant ones. Welcome these emotions with open arms. Every feeling and emotion is temporary. As author Haruki Murakami says, “pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” You have the ability to choose to dwell on your pain in the past, or to recognize it as temporary and move on from it. Know that the future is full of pleasant things, and this painful, uncomfortable moment will pass. Your body and mind will relax over time, and you will get used to the uncomfortable sensation. It will become less unbearable, and you will become more resilient!




Check out this infographic from @heyamberrae! It shows the process of sitting with discomfort and getting used to the sensations that come with it. This image also demonstrates that the process is not linear - it’s not an easy process that carries upward momentum at all times. Try to embrace the process of sitting with discomfort!



Thanks for reading,

Lauren


583 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All