How comfortable are you with being uncomfortable?
The reason I ask is because there’s been times in my life when I’ve felt very uncomfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable.
My experience of being uncomfortable
When I was at school I used to have to catch two buses to get home. On cold, wet, winters nights it got very uncomfortable. Often I’d be soaked to the bone, freezing wet, carrying my P.E. kit and my violin case (and if timetabling was very poorly thought out, my cookery basket too)
After 5 years of that I got very fed up of weather full stop. Once I passed my driving test I was able to avoid the discomfort of waiting for the bus altogether.
Nowadays I’ll still think twice about going out if it’s raining because I hate the thought of being that uncomfortable again. In fact on rainy days you’ll still find me sitting under a blanket with a good book and a cup of tea by the fire, rather than getting soaking wet outside. If possible that is.
Not just physical discomfort. I’m not comfortable with being emotionally uncomfortable either!
But comfort doesn’t just cover staying warm and dry in my car. It’s more than that. There’s been times in my life when I’ve not wanted to be uncomfortable so I’ve avoided social situations or situations that I’m not 100% sure of the protocols.
I’ve not invited people to do things in case I had to face the discomfort of them saying no to my offer. I’ve avoided interviews in case the interviewer asks me something I can’t answer or asks me to perform a task I’m unfamiliar with.
I’ve not tried certain foods in case I don’t like them and avoided pubs and social events if I’m not sure whether we’re buying rounds or not. Or what the dress code is. I’m not averse to buying a round, but I want to get it right, so I don’t have to deal with the discomfort of doing the wrong thing.
In the past I’ve felt the need to hide out of the way of people, just in case they decide they don’t like me.
I’ve learned now not to do this so much as I’ve realised having the marmite effect on people can actually be really helpful.
If people love me, then great but if they don’t then it’s probably helpful for them to run away screaming (perhaps silently, we don’t want to upset the neighbours now do we?)
They’re not going to add anything to my life are they if they don’t like me. If they don’t like me, don’t get me, don’t want to spend time with me, the best and most comfortable thing I can do with them is set them free and concentrate on those who do want to spend time with me!
Have you tried being uncomfortable though?
It can be quite liberating. When my children were younger, I was dragged out a couple of times during thunder rain and got soaked to the skin then, but in a safe way.
As I wasn’t having to wait for a bus and then go to school in soaking wet clothes, it did feel a bit safer to be uncomfortable. It felt bizarrely quite nice listening to the splash of the rain as it hit the pavement, to smell the smell of the rain as it connected with the earth. It felt good to have the rain blash against my face, soaking my hair to my head. It felt even better when I came back inside to a change of clothing and a steaming hot cup of tea. I almost enjoyed it.
It was like the time when I did my sky dive. On my very first flight (as you do!) During the 25 seconds that it took me to fall at 125mph I couldn’t breathe. The wind was flapping my cheeks.
There are still things I find a challenge, like recording videos but each time I do one it gets a little bit easier and a little bit easier until I imagine it will just become second nature in the end.
Moving from uncomfortable to comfortable
So how do we make that transition from not wanting to feel uncomfortable to being comfortable in that given situation? It boils down to taking baby steps.
So instead of jumping in the deep end straight away, take a smaller step. I could record a short video, edit it a little if necessary and then post it online. I could record a podcast or I could just record myself for my own eyes until I got better at it. But if at first it’s really hard, it’s important not to get too disheartened. Be gentle with yourself and if you find it tough, just try again a different day.