I often say that one of the biggest things I learned from Circling and personal development is getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. My life is not necessarily easier than others’, but over the years I have built my capacity to take in, and hold, more. And that, more than anything, has given me a stronger stance in life, where I get less easily overwhelmed and less strongly triggered than I used to.
You can call it resilience.
In my own work and my work with clients I have seen over and over that a wide range of experiences can make people uncomfortable. For some there is a lot of shame, others struggle with vulnerability. Or anger is hard to be with – both in ourselves and others. Different people, different ways.
One of the things that has stood out to me is that positive experiences can be just as uncomfortable as negative ones. Joy, happiness, ease, turn on. Love, safety.
We really get attached to a certain preference in experience and other things can threaten that ‘status quo’. In my life, sadness has been a dominant preference. I felt at home in there. So honouring, allowing and fully enjoying joy has been a whole journey for me.
It is not so much about being okay with everything, and not getting impacted. It is about building your bandwidth, step by step. It is about learning to stay present more with the intensity that can occur when you get triggered or encounter something in yourself you find hard to be with.
Instead of running away, getting defensive or distracting yourself.
This process takes time, but it so worth it. As I said, I think it is one of the biggest transformations that has occurred for me that allows me to enjoy and trust life more, day by day.
It is easy to take the first step, but, it requires some bravery. To make a different choice. To create a different future.
The next time you encounter something uncomfortable, in yourself or in somebody else; pause. Take a breath. Feel. And stay present with whatever is occurring for you; strong sensation, thoughts, judgements, emotions. *And do not act on them.* Just explore, feel, stay present with whatever is happening for you.
You give yourself permission for having that experience. And the longer you stay with it, the less intense it will be. Sometimes that can take a while, sometimes it goes quick. Just acknowledge it.
And next time you can recognise this state maybe a little earlier, say hello to it as an old friend, and practise again. And over time those experiences will become less threatening, and you will find a little more ease.
Just try it. And let me know what you find.
PS: getting comfortable with uncomfortable experiences is one of the core practices in my upcoming Find Your Flavour – Circling Leadership Training. We will build those muscles by practising staying present with whatever is arising in us and in relationship with others. We practise those muscles in a safe space so you can then bring them into you world; showing up more fully as leaders in your life and relationships.
*CAVEAT: if you have experienced strong trauma in the past; reliving that on your own when it gets triggered might not always be a good idea. If things get too much and you feel you cannot handle it anymore, I’d advise you to get professional support in processing this. There are amazing skilled people out there. If you live in the Netherlands I’d be happy to refer you.