Do you have to turn on the air conditioner once it reaches X degrees? Maybe you break out your hat and gloves as soon as the temperature dips below 50°. Or you can’t be without a whole laundry list of items when you travel.
Whatever your comfort needs are, I’ve noticed that we seem to be growing less and less comfortable with discomfort. We are slowly insulating ourselves more and more against what we perceive to be threats to our well-being.
And all of our modern-day conveniences make it really easy. We have well-insulated homes with screens to keep out the bugs and HVAC units to keep us always at the temperature we choose. Online shopping keeps us home when we could instead be getting to know our local merchants and keeping ties with those in our communities. There are plenty of medicines at our disposal to keep us from feeling every hint of an ailment. And on and on.
Now, I’m not knocking these conveniences or saying that we shouldn’t use them at all. I have my own temperature thresholds for my home, I do buy some things online, and I will occasionally use an herbal medicine to feel better. The problem happens when we are always comfortable, when we can’t tolerate anything outside of our comfort boundaries. Then our low tolerance for physical discomfort bleeds over into our mental state as we find other ways to keep our mental body from any kind of distress.
We end up numbing out from our emotions and feelings. We use alcohol, drugs, games, work, and general busyness to keep from feeling emotional discomfort. Our bodies become sicker and weaker when we don’t listen to their wisdom to rest when we need it, instead we use caffeine or sugar to override our energy levels. We don’t let that headache tell us something in our body needs our attention, instead masking the pain with an ibuprofen.
The Power of Discomfort
Your power lies in allowing yourself to start experiencing small discomforts and slowly building up your tolerances to them. As you let yourself feel the cold by getting the mail without a jacket when there’s snow on the ground, or resting when your body is signaling you through a headache or brain fog, a magical thing starts to happen. You simultaneously become more comfortable with your mind body and its thoughts and feelings.
Once you can sit with that discomfort, you often find that it wasn’t as bad as you were making it out to be. You also will find that issues that were bothering you have disappeared. You will find solutions to your problems. Comfort leads to more comfort.
Start with small steps to allow your body to feel uncomfortable, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Then slowly increase your levels of physical discomfort. Don’t push yourself to pain, that’s not the point of this. You just want to start feeling into your body more, connecting with it.
Once you are not numb to your physical body, you start thawing out your mental body. This process is circular, too. You may find that you were eating to cover your emotions and feelings, but once you are more comfortable with them you don’t have the desire to eat as much. You might find that your constant low-grade headache just disappears. You will for sure find yourself happier and healthier.
Give it a try. Work at your own pace, but challenge yourself a little as well. You have nothing to lose.