A couple of weeks ago, I shared a question community members often ask – wondering why they’re often uncomfortable as they progress in this work. In Part I of this series, we explored the discomfort of survival – and the difference between reacting out of habit and responding out of need.
Now, I’d like to discuss the kind of discomfort we experience as we begin to leave our old personalities – and our old personal realities – behind.
The Discomfort of Change
The unease of survival is a feeling most of us know well. The discomfort of change can be trickier to identify – especially when we’re in early stages of breaking our habitual patterns, and especially when our old selves want to convince us it would be easier to just stay the familiar course.
At first, we might be undertaking the daily practice of metacognition – of becoming aware of the thoughts we think, and not letting those thoughts slip by our awareness unnoticed.
Or maybe we’re working on noticing how we repeatedly summon a memory that causes us to feel a certain way, and how our body seems to crave that familiar feeling – even when it’s unpleasant. Or we might be learning how to override our attempts to control and predict the next moment … and the next … based on those well-rehearsed thoughts and feelings.
Or we catch ourselves acting or speaking as if we have no effect on creating a new life for ourselves.
Becoming aware of our patterns is challenging. It takes an enormous amount of energy and awareness to change from being unconscious. If we’re new to it, the effort alone to disentangle from those programs can be uncomfortable.
And then, there’s the crucial step of choosing something different each time we catch those thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. For most of us, that’s the hardest thing of all. It’s so much easier to run back to those familiar, hardwired, conditioned states of being. Or to pick up the cell phone, or the TV remote, and tune out – and escape altogether.
“I’ll start tomorrow,” we tell ourselves, eyeing the river of change – and opting for dry land.
So much of this work is about recognizing when we’re uncomfortable with the unfamiliar – and learning to sit with it. We’re constantly working to self-regulate so we can connect to the emotions and vision of the future we’re creating. To find a way to not wait for our life to change (while hoping something outside ourselves will take away those familiar feelings of emptiness and lack).
To commit to changing ourselves first ... so our life will then change ... means embracing the unknown. The unfamiliar. The uncomfortable.
Easing Into the Unknown
A simple practice for this, as we’re learning to bring our awareness to our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, is to catch ourselves being uncomfortable. And then say to ourselves: “OK, I’m in the river. A biological death is happening. And it’s really important to self-regulate and change my state – instead of white-knuckling it. To stay present, in this moment, and not try to predict the future or remember the past. To find a way to change this state – from within.”
If we can consciously remember, even once a day at first, that our discomfort itself is the sign to self-regulate – to loosen the grip and relax into the unknown – that is a measure of progress. That’s the art of going from survival to creation.
In other words, it isn’t ease and comfort that should be markers in our practice, but rather our ability to find that essential balance – where we’re relaxed and awake in the present moment. Where we can sit with our unease … and ease into the unknown.
Embracing discomfort is so contrary to how we’ve been programmed to react in survival. We’re used to seeing the unknown as scary. But finding a way to not only sit with discomfort, but welcome it, is so essential to evolving our consciousness. In fact, that’s how I define genius: it’s being uncomfortable … and being OK with it.
When we master our emotions, we master our creations. That’s the prize. If we can remember that, in the moment we notice our discomfort, we can understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, so the how – the act itself – has meaning and value.
Developing the divine aspect within has everything to do with learning how to overcome our challenges from a greater level of consciousness than the consciousness – or unconsciousness – of the life we’ve created (the one we’re trying to change). To create a new future, we must learn to view problems as opportunities … and approach them from a greater level of mind.
Relaxed in the Heart; Awake in the Brain
Whatever the source of our discomfort – be it a useful state of survival or the ongoing process of change – finding that balance where we’re relaxed and awake is the key. Every time we catch ourselves is a victory. That’s the work.
Relaxed in the heart; awake in the brain. When we find ourselves uncomfortable, we can practice tuning into our heart – our creative center – and let it inform our brain that solutions are available to us. We can pause, change our state of being, and remember there are other ways to go about whatever it is we’re facing.
Every time I remember I’m a creator, my heart opens. If we can summon that same awareness in moments of discomfort, we’ll find there’s no need to resist it. Because we’ll remember it means we’re in the unknown … and that’s where all possibilities exist.
If we truly believe we’re eternal, and truly believe we’re creators, then making that change in that moment – the unknown – literally changes our destiny. And if not now … when?