Get comfortable with the uncomfortable, because it is the key to realizing happiness.
The popular writer Pema Chödrön, who was born Dierdre Brown in New Jersey (but, hey, that’s another story) put it this way:
“. . .the pain that you’re resisting cuts you off from understanding other people and your self. . .The problem is that we have so little tolerance for uncomfortable feelings. I’m not even talking about unpleasant outer circumstances, but that feeling in your stomach of ‘I don’t want this to be happening.’ So, you try to escape it in some way, but if somehow you could stay present and touch the rawness of the experience. . .”
Somehow, then what?
(1) We would begin to feel more confident and less anxious.
(2) We would begin to know more clearly who or how we want to be, and be less anxious about seeking it.
(3) We would feel less alone, less misunderstood, and less anxious (or depressed) that it’s “always” going to be this way.
So somehow if we could just stay more present. But just how do we do that?
It begins by doing the opposite of our impulses. Like, yes, resist your fight or flight or freeze instincts. It also begins by taking a more active role in speaking directly to ourselves about what’s really going on in our heads.
You might call this self-awareness, but it’s useful to just say “Stop kidding yourself.”
If that’s too plainly put, Chödrön writes in her book When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times:
“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”
Here’s a quick jump-start:
Close your eyes and picture how you want life to look before you die. And, while you’re at it, maybe take another picture of how you want to feel about yourself, too.
Okay, now this:
Take a snapshot of how other’s see you? (Are you sure?) To be more certain, how do you make others feel about you and about themselves?
This is different than what you want them to think of you. It’s also different than what you hope they think of you. Rather, how do they actually feel when they are with you? I know, I’d rather delete these uncomfortable snapshots, too.
The thing is it is only by getting used to the uncomfortable snapshots of ourselves that we can we get closer to the life we imagine. We need to see how our own behaviors and beliefs are what most get in our way, not how others are or are not treating us.