Getting good at being uncomfortable
Push it down, run away, distract, drug, dull and even detach...
These are common ways we deal with painful/uncomfortable thoughts. Sadly this rarely works and only fuels the pain further.
There's a funny thing that happens with your subconscious. The more you tell it not to think about something, the more it does.
- "Don't think about the doughnut"
- "Don't think about feeling anxious"
- "Don't focus on the blemish"
It's what is sometimes referred to as the Romeo and Juliet effect. The more forbidden a love the more desired and craved it becomes.
The key to reducing the stress and power these thoughts have on our lives is:
1) Realise we all have them. They are supposed to be there. They are a survival mechanism designed to keep us safe. The celebrity you think has a perfect life has them, the billionaire who can buy anything has them, we all have them.
2) Allow them to be there (this is the tough part and where training is necessary). Did you know positive affirmations will make over 50% of the population feel worse?
Our goal instead is to become really, really good at feeling our feelings, letting them be there, allowing them to sit, acknowledging that this is how we feel and it's ok. Then we need to use our slow breath work and mindfulness skills to train our brain to be calm when we feel these thoughts. Thoughts can't hurt us when we don't hold onto them and realise they are just thoughts (neither true or false).
3) Once we are at this stage, we have now created space between stimulus and response. Instead of reacting to uncomfortable thoughts and choosing 'emotional pain strategies' that aren't helpful in the way we want to live, we get to choose. And that's where the real power is.
So try it:
- Feel the feeling, connect with the thought. Allow it to be
- Slow your breath and connect with the present moment. Create space.
- Chose your next action by what is most important to you.