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Discomfort- the habit of putting up with pain

You take action because you really want something or you really don’t want something. There is the moving towards the things you want: a promotion, better health, deeper relationships, more fulfilling work. Or there is the moving away from the things you don’t want. These things bring you pain and discomfort and you are strongly motivated to get rid of the cause. The pain and discomfort of poor diet, too much or too little exercise, financial pressure, career or relationship stagnation, feeling life is on hold. You want to move away from those things and the pain and discomfort can be powerful inspiration

The beauty of pain and discomfort

However, have you noticed how you’re willing to put up with all kinds of mild discomfort? A stone in your shoe you might put up with. You might let that go on for a while? The pain might get worse over time, spurring you to take action eventually. Do you notice that the mild discomfort points towards a potential issue that if left untreated, will lead to greater discomfort and pain later on?

On a walking trip years ago, I ignored the discomfort caused by a stone in one of my boots. Rather than deal with it, I walked on. Gradually it got worse until someone noticed I was limping. In fact, it became almost impossible to continue the trip. It took several sessions of physiotherapy to get my body back to alignment and time for the skin on my foot to heal. I wish I had acted on the minor discomfort before it got really painful.

Physical and emotional pain

This physical example could be a metaphor for any number of life’s challenges and situations. Lack of fulfilment in a career or relationship? Food and drink choices that leave you feeling bloated, drained, hyperactive or with any number of mild or less than mild reactions? Excessive exercise that leads to injury or delayed recovery? Too little exercise that leaves you lethargic or restless? Caring for others that leaves you with no energy or time for your own well-being? Putting up with stress that affects your physical and mental balance? Choosing to continue with patterns of behaviour that do not serve you?

When I speak to clients, or friends and family for that matter, what I hear people say is that discomfort seems manageable somehow. That if I keep going, things will work out. It’s not that bad. It’s nothing important. Or perhaps they feel stuck and say things like “I can’t do anything different” or “I haven’t got the time/ money/ support/ opportunity/ resources/ intelligence/ talent to change”. What I ask them in response is:

”What are you willing to tolerate or put up with?”

This often leads to an open and frank exploration of their pain and discomfort and how they want things to be different.

The truth is, pain and discomfort have a function. They tell you something needs to change. Whether physical or mental, pain and discomfort appear in your life for a reason. It’s your way of telling yourself things are not as they should be. There is a part of you saying that you want to do something different.

So why is it that you will put up with discomfort for ages? Why will you wait for it to get painful, perhaps REALLY painful, before you will do something about it? Here are some ideas:

It’s not that bad

You tolerate your discomfort. Perhaps it’s been like this for so long you can’t remember how life is like without it. May be you think this is how life is meant to be? I noticed that seeing others experience great joy for example led me to wonder why I don’t experience great joy. So I have explored that pain/ discomfort in myself. A habit of acceptance and following rather than leading and taking the initiative has meant I have done less of what brings me joy. As I lead more and take responsibility for my own joy, I do more of what brings fulfilment in my life and joy follows.

You think you deserve your discomfort?

Not feeling good enough or ‘punishing’ yourself for past mistakes can leave you trapped in patterns that lead to more pain. I see people who grew up being told by parents or teachers that they were ‘naughty’ or ‘stupid’ children, live out limitation and denial in spite of their accomplishments. Seeing that pattern in life as a projection of past indoctrination can free a person and bring about more fulfilled living.

Change is hard/ doing it differently is difficult

It can seem easier to keep doing what you have always done. Change takes so much effort. Yet maintaining the status quo takes effort too. Just different effort. Taking the time to practice life-affirming habits can change more than what you do in life. It can shift who you are being and your impact on your world personally and professionally. As I practice self- acceptance I notice how I accept others more readily. This gives them permission to accept themselves.

Everyone else is doing what I’m doing

There are things we are doing in society that aren’t working. Why are we still doing these things that harm us and cause us pain and discomfort? The reason is because this is what we have always done and everyone is doing it. This doesn’t mean it’s in our best interests. The sedentary lifestyle so many of us lead is so bad for our health and well-being yet the trend is growing not slowing. We all feel so much more alive and engaged when we move, yet the trend is to remain on our behinds. Let’s go for what we know is best for us intuitively rather than follow the crowd.

The power of community can work for and against you. Friends, colleagues and family can hold you in patterns of limitation if they support behaviours that keep you stagnant. Conversely, they can support your growth if they role model and advocate growth mindsets.

Don’t want to rock the boat

Change mixes things up. It ruffles feathers and puts people’s noses out of joint. Yet the pain of conformity can be overwhelming. I was made to conform to religious doctrine as a child. I fought it and eventually found my religious freedom. Not without causing some upset I admit. But it felt more authentic to me. I do not judge those that instilled their beliefs in me. They did it out of love. But it wasn’t for me. Balancing boat rocking with compassion is important.

It will go away if I ignore it

The immediate challenge may disappear but the inner source of the pain/ discomfort will not go away until it is faced head on. Filling your time with busyness like over- eating, binge-boxset-watching and other avoidance behaviour can create the illusion that the pain is going away. In truth, you’re just avoiding it.

I believe you have to understand the source of your pain before you can be free of it. If not, new challenges will come and niggle that pain in the future. For example, needing validation from parents. I have asked for that for years from my parents and never got it. Once I faced that need, I realised the gap in myself and filled it with my own self-gratitude, acceptance and appreciation. Which is all we can do. As a consequence, my parents appreciate me a lot more now!!!

I’m too busy to change

We are all busy. It can sometimes seem like a backward step to find more time in a busy schedule. Instead, take the time and swap out something that is not serving you for something that is. Rather than sit and watch TV to relax, go for a walk, listen to music, take a hot bath. Say “no” to more time on Facebook and say”yes” to more time talking with friends face to face. It’s not about more time. Instead, use the time you do have to create the life you do want.

Procrastination

You don’t want to deal with all your pain at the same time. Putting things off creates more pressure and stress and prolongs the pain/ discomfort you feel. You might not want to face the tough stuff. I get that. The sooner you do though, the sooner you’re free of the pain you feel. Get the support you need and take it one step at a time when you’re ready. Having someone to champion and cheerleader you is invaluable. We are social creatures so having community supports us in all our ventures.

What if it doesn’t work?

There is the fear that change will make things worse. The expression “better the devil you know” crops up here. When you make a stand for a more fulfilling life you may experience more pain. It’s simply pointing the way to what you need to do differently. If you want to get fitter and you over do it at the gym or run too far your body will tell you. Or perhaps you keep having arguments with your partner when you talk about a challenging topic? The discomfort and pain deepen very time you speak about it.

This doesn’t mean stop totally. It means do things differently. What should you do instead? Run less far perhaps. Lift lighter weights. Build up over time. Healing wounds in relationships takes many conversations not just one. Perhaps taking a different tack would help like learning active listening skills or having counselling. You can learn more about active listening in this video:

It’s a process and pain/ discomfort tell you to makes changes. If the pain is less or absent you’re moving in the right direction.

I’m so used to it, I don’t notice there is anything wrong

We have a great capacity to endure. It’s a coping mechanism. It’s also a downward spiral because you’re doing more of what will bring you more pain without even realising it.

Listening to friends can be helpful here as they give you a more objective perspective on your situation. If they’re concerned about you and you think nothing’s wrong, perhaps they are pointing to something you can’t see or feel. It might be worth taking a look anyway. Before my wife and I separated, family and friends expressed their concern for my well-being. I thought I was fine. My brother finally pressed me to talk about things and it became apparent all was not well. So I sort help. I have learned that it is important to me to continue to find help to deal with any of the pains and discomforts I experience- be it emotional or physical.

Leaving pain and discomfort unchecked

Pain and discomfort are a blessing. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but they are. They tell you to “take action”. That “life can be better” than it has been. They even point you in the right direction. Your intuition will tell you where to go and what to do.

Often this means asking for help. Which is an entirely different topic I will deal with next time (see the blog here). In the meantime, please know that pain and discomfort make us feel like we want to withdraw, deal with it alone and stick our heads in the sand. By all means do this for a short time and see if you can get out of this alone if you want. But if you are stuck in this situation that causes you pain, please know you are not alone. Please know help is a question away. All you have to do is ask.

Pass it on

Please share this blog and let people know they are not alone struggling with the pain of emotional discomfort. It can make up a large part of our lives and can be inspiration for our growth if we allow it. Please give people you know and love that chance if they need it.

Am I good enough?

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When faced with the challenge of stepping out of your comfort zone do you worry about whether you are good enough? Does this worry stop you from trying and giving it your best shot? Would this mind- set help you rise to the challenge?  Would you do it half- heartedly because deep down you think that you’ll fail?

Self- limiting beliefs such as ‘Am I good enough?’ can really hold you back.  Consequently, you feel trapped in the cycle of ‘can’t do it’.  You feel like you’re over stretching your self and taking on more than is realistic. Both strategies lead to fulfilling the prophecy that you are not good enough. In a way you know it’s true.  That’s only what experience has taught you based upon the way you are approaching the situation. What I find fascinating and inspiring is that in spite of this self- created evidence, you still strive to be better and good enough.  How can you begin to build the evidence that tells you that you are good enough? How can you realise that you are full of the potential that you feel intuitively inside?

A new mind- set

What would help is a different mind- set.  A  perspective that challenges your old thinking and establishes new, empowering thinking.  As a result, you will grow and develop in the directions you choose.

Perhaps it might be useful to reframe the question? When you ask “Am I good enough?” I actually think people are asking “Can I do it perfectly?”  The answer to that, if this is your first time, is almost definitely “no!”  The expectation that you want or have to do it perfectly is the thing that stops you from trying at all. Perhaps that demand puts you under pressure.  So much in fact that the authentic and heart- felt delivery that would make it a success becomes stifled, tense and forced. You may have an idea of where this thinking comes from and that may be important for you to know.  In coaching it is more significant to notice that you are feeling that way in the moment of not feeling good enough.  This can empower you to think and act differently.

Where do you go from here?

By giving your self permission not to be perfect, you are setting up the opportunity to make mistakes, reflect on them, learn from them and act differently next time around. This is part of the growth mind- set that I have spoken about in another blog.

The iterative process of stepping out of your comfort zone, making mistakes, learning from them and altering behaviour accordingly drives you towards ever increasing excellence.

In my experience, this takes away some of the pressure I have placed on my self that actually leaves me stagnating and instead able to take action. I see clients empowered to try, cognisant that they may not be perfect (and to be at peace with that truth).  That those mistakes will be the stumbling blocks they will turn into stepping stones in the future.

With this mind- set, “Am I good enough?” becomes “I am good enough to start and get progressively better as I learn and improve”. My belief is that you are good enough, as are we all, to do excellently at whatever you choose. False expectations from out- dated beliefs will only keep you stuck and struggling to move forward and grow. Find ways to step up and grow your self. Believing that you have what it takes to be good enough goes a long way to allowing you to grow into that role and realise the potential within that lies dormant, untested, until you step up.

Over to you

Feelings of “Am I good enough?” are normal and natural. I hope this perspective has given you some food for thought.  That it challenges that question and gives you room to explore how capable and powerful you are.  As ever, I would love to hear from you.  I invite you to share your experience, observations and insights.  Fellow readers and people that share this path of uncovering their full potential will benefit. Please leave your comments below.

And if you’ve enjoyed this blog and think someone you know would benefit and enjoy reading it, please pass it on. You can also sign up to the monthly Potentiality Coaching Blog Newsletter here and be the first to hear about what is evolving in the world of Potentiality Coaching, including newly published blogs, new packages and coaching offers.

Breaking Habits

Habits are entrenched behaviours- we are simply digging holes for ourselves.

Habits are entrenched behaviours- we are simply digging holes for ourselves.

Habits can be tough things to break.  We make New Year’s resolutions and have tossed them away by the middle of January.  We resolve to lose weight or give up smoking.  Then stumble under the insistence of cravings or peer group pressure.  We try the same methods over and over again.  Confident that THIS time we have the resolve, the commitment and the desire.  It was Einstein that said that foolishness is doing the same thing time and again and expecting different results.

So let’s start by dispelling a few myths about habits that might make it easier to understand what is happening and therefore empower you to greater success.

Habits are entrenched behaviours and like any hole it takes time to dig it.  The longer you dig it the deeper and wider it becomes.  Every time you repeat your entrenched behaviour you are working to make the hole a little larger (like our little friend here in the picture).  I have struggled all my life with being over- weight.  It was not until I received a real health scare that I forced myself to look at the reasons behind my over- eating. Boredom was the main culprit.  A habit that had developed from childhood of reaching for food when I was at a loose end.  Mostly during adverts or waiting for something to start like my workout class or a meal!!!!!!

Mind- Framing

Before then I had tried to lose weight, and had framed it around eating less.  My mind- set was one of denying myself, scarcity, negativity and incredibly difficult to sustain.  What worked for me was framing it around better health.  A much more positive mind- set built around empowerment.

I educated myself about the healthy things I could eat, reducing cholesterol, paying attention to levels of saturated fat in food and recognising the craving for food when I had a gap in my day. That was the hardest part, made easier by my commitment to healthy living. I did not want to have the heart attack my elder brother had had and have stents fitted to keep me alive!!!

A Little Self- Compassion

Over time, I have dug myself another hole- new entrenched behaviour based upon positive, healthy living.  Every shovel- full of earth from this new hole goes to fill in the old one, reaffirming every success.  I congratulate myself on feeling lighter, more revitalised and energised, more productive and generally fitter and healthier.  It also allows me to have compassion for myself when I go back to the old habit.  It’s a huge hole that I sometimes fall back into.  This gets me back to my new mind- set quicker and easier, without the baggage and chastisement that used to go with the odd trip up.

Shifting Mind Set

In this world of instant access, we are used to having things now.  Habit breaking does not work that way- it takes time and effort.  A slow gradual process of unlearning the old habit and entrenching a new habit that is better for your health, productivity, career prospects, personal development and progression is the only sure- fire way.  It requires a shift in mind- set and life- style choice.  The feeling of empowerment and success when you achieve your goals is second to none. Good luck and I hope this helps to break the habits that may be barriers on your road to achieving your goals and dreams and fulfilling your true potential.

Over to you

What entrenched behaviour have you overcome?  What habits are you struggling with?  How have you achieved success in breaking habits?  Do you have any tips that would help others overcome habits that limit their potential?  If you do, please post them in the comments section below and help build an on- line resource to empower people to achieve their full potential.

Why not………..

If you found this article useful and interesting please pass it on to other people you think would be interested and spread the word.  I would really appreciate it.  And if you are new to Potentiality Coaching, why not sign up to the e- mailing list at https://www.potentialitycoaching.co.uk/ and get an e- mail straight to your in box when I post my monthly blog and be first to hear about news, information and insights at Potentiality Coaching.  I’d love to have you be part of the community.