Take the Highway Through Your Discomfort Zone
How often do you promise to make a change, do it for a few days or weeks, and then revert back to your old ways, abandoning your noble intentions?
If you’re like me, and most of the people I encounter who are trying to make a change, it is probably pretty often. When you are trying something that requires consistent discipline, energy, and feeling like a novice way out of your comfort zone, it is natural to seek refuge back in old habits when it gets hard and you aren’t experiencing the euphoria of immediate results.
So you abandon the effort with a hundred excuses about why you didn’t follow through. Usually our rationalizations blame circumstances to help us save face with ourselves. We create whatever excuse we need to make us feel less like a failure and more justified in our abandoning ship.
The reality is that as much as we say we want something, we often want to feel comfortable and avoid perceived “pain” more. The need for immediate results and euphoria to take away the pain of the effort needed overrides us and we choose to remove the feeling of discomfort instead of persevering.
Dieting and fitness regimes are perfect examples of this point. How often do you begin a “diet” plan only to abandon it when the pain of not eating sugary delights creates intense discomfort?
You get the point…
Here’s a case in point from yours truly.
I, like most of the recovering high achievers I work with, used to have trouble relaxing. My mind was always moving and I would take on way too many things, evoking a self-induced feeling of overwhelm when I would try to do them all at once. That tendency, combined with the other stressors presenting unannounced in our lives, would leave me in a state of over-the-top stress—sometimes manifesting in physical symptoms like difficulty breathing or heart palpitations.
Yoga was the solution recommended over and over again by numerous doctors, friends, and stress-reduction articles I would read so diligently. It seemed like a perfect fit for me, as the mind-body-spirit connection underpinning of the practice resonates perfectly with my personal philosophy of living.
But here’s the thing.
It was hard.
And I didn’t leave the class with a sudden life-changing breakthrough and reduction in stress like I kept reading about.
So after a couple classes—I was left wondering.
What was the point?
Maybe I was doing it wrong?
Or better yet—maybe yoga just wasn’t the “thing” for me.
And I would abandon ship—going back to my more comfortable, tactical ways of handling stress like taking a day off or getting a massage.
Until I would try it again. Sometimes for a month.
Still no immediate result.
This went on for years—the push and pull of wanting to make a change—and the resistance and ultimately the abandonment when I didn’t “feel” the result.
Until I decided to choose to commit to the discomfort itself.
I would go to the class, feel the discomfort, let my mind do its judging thing, but keep doing it anyway.
I would not be attached to an immediate outcome, and just let the process unfold. The only goal I set for myself was to keep at it.
And there it was.
I know that pushing through the discomfort takes time. It is hard to do when you are a novice and feel inept. Everything in you wants to stop. You doubt why you are doing it in the first place and are ready to abandon at the first excuse you can give yourself.
That’s when pushing through it is the hardest…but reminding yourself of the commitment overrides the discomfort.
Yes—I have gotten to the point where the yoga practice is no longer something I force myself to do but something I seek solace and refuge in. I have learned a lot from the practice, but that is the subject of another post. This one is about pushing through your discomfort zone by riding on the highway of commitment.
Making a commitment to yourself to feel the discomfort of whatever it is you are trying to change or do and to do it anyway.
To not abandon ship or make excuses.
To get through the storm of your own making and trust that you will get where you need to be.
So as you travel on the highway through your discomfort zone—remind yourself of your commitment to feel the discomfort and do it anyway. For however long it takes to get somewhere.
You may just be surprised at how far you will go…
As always, drop me a note with your thoughts and experiences. I love hearing them.