There are times in life when I seem to get a series of messages around the same topic and when that happens I know it’s time to pay attention. My most recent one is discomfort.
I’m not talking about the type of discomfort that new shoes rubbing or eating more than we should so our clothes feel tight would create, I mean feeling uncomfortable physically, emotionally or mentally about something; an event, situation or someone’s behaviour for example.
Discomfort in this context was first brought to my attention by a good friend who is studying yoga and meditation and it was a topic that they found interesting and were working through and shared with me.
The second time was during a meeting I was attending which moved from being businesslike and polite to direct and challenging without warning; my role was to observe and not comment which I found very difficult.
The third time was when I came across something unexpectedly which, while it didn’t altogether surprise me, it did disappoint and concern me.
With similar situations in the past typical strategies might have been to dismiss or avoid, say or do nothing, blame myself or react without much forethought; as you might imagine none of those strategies is particularly effective.
So, by the time the third message came up, I chose instead to sit with my discomfort, acknowledge my thoughts and feel what was happening in my body. My mind was racing, my heartrate increased and I was distracted, confused and uncertain about what to say or do. I continued to sit and really experience what was happening rather than do or say anything
It took me a while to settle and what that time in discomfort provided was a breathing space for me to find a way to respond rather than react; an opportunity to start a conversation that was necessary and important and to be able to do that from a calm, respectful and loving centre.
I acknowledge that it was still a difficult conversation for both of us and we found a path through it, exploring each other’s perspectives without judgment, blame or being on the defensive. While it felt uncomfortable at the time, we were able to reach the other side with an acceptance and greater understanding of one another and what was happening for each of us.
So the next time something happens to you or around you that has you feel uncomfortable and wanting to run away, blame someone, get defensive or go on the attack, recognise you have a choice. When you choose to sit with your discomfort, you create the opportunity to find a new way to a different result; a more positive and constructive one that achieves so much more.