Our brand is Pleasure First. We constantly guide people to find pleasure in their lives. So what are we doing talking about discomfort? Isn’t that opposed to pleasure? We’ll go into that a little later. For now let’s talk discomfort.
First some questions need to be explored. What is uncomfortable in your life? Do you hate arguments or disagreements and avoid them? When you get in them is the emotion overwhelming? Do you sometimes lose control of your emotions in an argument?
Something else you may find uncomfortable is having to wait. You get impatient, start to fume inside, pace or shift from foot to foot and when the waiting is over let out your resentment over being forced to wait.
Your partner has something they do that irritates you. It makes you feel uncomfortable. Do you bury that discomfort, numb yourself to that behavior and shove the feeling of discomfort down?
Your mother constantly talks over you in conversation. You feel small and she shames you for how you dress, your weight, the people you date and this makes you feel uncomfortable. You get angry, lash out or you pull your body in, make yourself physically small. Your stomach churns and your voice disappears.
It’s hard to talk to women. You get nervous, afraid of what to say and how to say it. This is becoming more and more common for men.
What makes you feel uncomfortable?
And what do you do to relieve discomfort? Drink heavily? That’s a numbing action or a submissive action. Run away? That’s avoidance or flight. Lash out? A fight reaction to push the source of the discomfort away. Fawn or submission, flight, fight or fear. These are common and understandable reactions. They are called compensatory behaviors and occur when you go into reactive mode.
Most of us learn to avoid uncomfortable situations. But life is full of them. We can’t control when they will happen, we can’t completely avoid them so they never happen to us, and we hate having to get smaller and smaller to avoid them. And just exploding at them doesn’t seem to make them stop either. So we can’t be comfortable all the time. What are we to do? Can we live in a non-reactive way during those times of discomfort?
I propose something that may seem radical. It is edgy. It’s also empowering and shifts your life in amazing ways.
Think of a weight lifter. They may have a goal: bench press their weight let’s say. So do they just throw all that weight on a bar and do it? If they are not in that kind of shape they don’t unless they want to injure themselves. That’s unsafe. They progressively lift more and more weight over time, maybe weeks or months, until they can handle the weight and reach their goal. They progressively increase their capacity to do work. Keywords here are progressive, safety and capacity.
To develop our ability to handle more and more discomfort in life we need to develop our capacity for it. Progressive training in being uncomfortable, practicing techniques or increasing our emotional muscles increases our capacity for being in uncomfortable situations. Just like lifting weights.
So our proposal? Put yourself in uncomfortable situations and learn to process the discomfort. Learn that it won’t kill you if you discuss a difficult topic with your partner or a colleague. Now we are not saying do dangerous behaviors or jump out of a perfectly good plane without a parachute. You do this progressively, slowly, in places of safety to develop your capacity. You need a training facility, a playground, someone that will spar with you in the ring. They need to understand that you are practicing, training and not judge or shame you. Confidentiality and compassion are used to create conscious awareness of what makes you uncomfortable and gives you the opportunity to be uncomfortable in an intentional way.
Let me illustrate with an example. I used to have extreme difficulties asking a woman for what I wanted. I found a partner (she was beautiful, sexy and single) that would allow me the opportunity to ask for those edgy things and say “No” to me. We did this over and over again on many occasions until I reached a point where my ego was no longer “in danger”, I could make a request in a way that was steady, without fear, from a place of self-confidence and self-esteem. This wasn’t to get my need answered. It was to practice and increase my capacity for discomfort. I then progressed to other practice partners, thus increasing my capacity.
Some action steps for you:
- Find someone that can hold a safe container within which you can practice. Contact us and we can help you with this. A coach is a great container for this.
- Start becoming aware of whenever you feel uncomfortable. Don’t do anything about it yet. Journal it and examine it in the journal. What were your body sensations? Did you react physically? In what way? What words did you use? Were there particular emotions? What images were in your mind?
- Pay attention to what you did after the uncomfortable situation. Did you grab something to eat? Go get drunk? Dive into a video game? Run away? Be aware of these compensatory behaviors and write them down.
- Discuss these with your safe container person.
So what’s so great about all of this? I want pleasure, not discomfort. And so that is the point here. You cannot escape all discomfort in this world. If you learn to increase your ability to handle uncomfortable situations in your life you simultaneously increase your capacity for pleasure. You will push out the walls of your emotional prison and gain more place for pleasure and play. Pay attention to what makes you uncomfortable and use that as a springboard to developing your emotional strength. Become the person you want to be and escape the prison within which you live.