5 Silly ways to lean into discomfort
Recently I wrote two posts about practicing Radical Acceptance - the practice of easing into the discomfort of your fears. You can read them here and here. I received some awesome feedback about the concepts I introduced and how to sit in your fears without running or hiding. But I also received some great questions like, "How do I do this when I'm really heated?" and "How do I practice radical acceptance when I want to be anywhere but here right now?" As a theory, radical acceptance feels great. Yet right there in the heat of the moment it's very difficult to refrain from giving into our emotions.
To help you cultivate a practice today I'll share 5 silly ways that I give space to this. I say silly because they are going to sound odd but they totally work! The important thing to remember with these is that you want to practice when you're not heated, not overwhelmed, not annoyed, etc.
Practice stepping into discomfort when you're comfortable. From this safe space you learn that you can be present with discomfort. Over time this will give way to sitting in full blown fear without running away, hiding, numbing, or attacking.
Silly Thing #1: Hot/Cold Shower
This is my favorite one. For some reason my shower at home, only in the winter (of course!), goes from hot to cold to hot to cold throughout my shower. Cold showers are actually quite good for the body but incredibly uncomfortable!
Try this: Next time you take a hot shower intentionally turn the temperature down until it's about as cool as you can handle then make it just a notch colder. Let the cold water run over your body without jumping away for 15-30 seconds then turn the water back up to hot.
Silly Thing #2: Traffic Mindfulness
Traffic is my favorite place to practice mindfulness. There is nothing you can do about traffic but sit there. Anger, agitation, or being in a hurry will not magically move cars for you. Surrender to the fact that you're sitting in traffic.
Try this: Next time you find yourself in traffic, either because it's rush-hour or there's unforeseen circumstances, just let it be. When you find yourself getting irritated at the person driving really close behind you - take a deep breath. When you find yourself upset because someone just cut you off - take a deep breath.
Silly Thing #3: Detox
Detox is a heated word so hear me out. I'm not suggesting you dive right into a full-fledge detox. I am suggesting you try abstaining from something you've wanted to cut from your diet for just 7 days. I recently gave up sugar and alcohol. I wasn't feeling great and thought I would try taking them out of my diet temporarily. This is forcing me to face the anxiety that can come through when I don't have my fall-back treats to rely on.
Try this: Pick one thing to take out of your diet for 7 days. Common things to try that can have a wonderful impact on body and mind are caffeine, alcohol, sugar, dairy, gluten, or processed foods. Just pick one!
Silly Thing #4: Active Listening
Many of our conversations are self-serving. They are geared at being heard instead of listening. Watch what happens when you actively choose to only listen to your friend, co-worker, or partner without relating, interjecting, or sharing. Instead listen, reflect, and ask meaningful questions. Make the conversation all about them.
Try this: For the next 5 days have 5 intentional conversations that are geared at listening only. You can initiate one too - call a friend and ask how they are, or over dinner with your partner ask how their day was and really listen to how their day was.
Silly Thing #5: Uninterrupted Down Time
This might be the most difficult so ease into this one. We are busy creatures but most of our business is self-inflicted. We fill up every nook and cranny of our day with email, texts, social media, gossip, exercise, TV, and more. We all crave more time but when we have it we fill it up. I recently started a more consistent mediation practice. The first time I went to my meditation group without music or guidance and had to sit for 30 minutes...I was crawling inside my mind! I thought, "Hmm, this is odd. I want peace and quiet but this is hard!" It brought me right to the edge of discomfort.
Try this: Take 5 minutes per day for just 5 days and do nothing. Literally sit and do nothing. Don't drink or eat. Don't read or write. Don't text or peruse Facebook. Just be there. You can set a timer so you don't even have to keep checking the clock.
Safety and security is our brain's sole purpose. Any form of discomfort the brain considers a threat to your very existence. In practicing little bouts of discomfort mindfully you can teach your brain and body that you are in fact safe. You don't need to react and it's ok to let it go.
In light and love,