A couple of weeks ago on Instagram, I asked the question: As a child, were you taught to sit in discomfort? Seventy-five percent of people responded no and 25% said yes. If I were to answer, I would have been part of the 75%. To be honest, most people are not taught how to sit in discomfort. We are taught to follow our natural instincts, which is to bury, dump or pretend it is not happening. Basically, fight or flight.
Mid March when we first started sheltering-in-place, I pulled out my Wifi Fit. It quickly became my new best friend. During my last workout, I injured my ankle. That evening, I noticed it was sore when I applied weight to it. I thought I would stretch it out and everything would be okay in the morning.
The next morning, I sat on the edge of my bed, stretched and attempted to stand up. I couldn’t stand on my left ankle. I tried to force myself to stand and walk. Mind over matter; right? Wrong, I toppled over. I sat on the floor in disbelief. My ankle wasn’t swollen or tender to the touch, I should be able to walk. I quickly realized that should and being able to, are two different things. I crawled to the bathroom then to the kitchen to get an ice pack. I hobbled my way through my kitchen with ice and cloth in tow to the couch. I knew the next 24 hours were going to be challenging.
I pouted for a moment, then devised a plan on how to collect my work items and bring them to the couch. I decided to use my office chair to roll around my house gathering all needed items. It was a success. Fast forward by the end of the day, I was exhausted. Rolling to the bathroom, kitchen and to the family room was a daunting task.
By day two, I was over it. I honestly thought the pain would have subsided and I would be on the mend. I called my friend and he inquired if I had ever sprained my ankle. I responded with a resounding NO! My friend stated a sprained ankle takes time to heal. You have to sit in the pain and allow it to mend. Forcing your way through will disrupt the healing process. "Rhaea, you can’t will your way through everything."
I sat in silence. Discomfort, whether it is mental or physical, doesn’t magically go away. If you choose to bury it and pretend it’s not there, doesn’t mean it's not. It festers and grows and leads to behaviors that do not align with who we are. According to Rising Strong, a book by Brene Brown, when we don’t acknowledge hurt it shows up in different ways. She compiled a list of 5 ways our emotions come out:
Chanderling: When we think we packed the hurt so far down it's impossible to resurface, then all of a sudden a seemingly innocuous comment sends us into a rage or crying fit.
Bouncing Hurt: This involves a good ole ego. Our ego-the part of us that cares about status and what people think - doesn’t allow room for discomfort or self-reflection. The ego likes blaming and finding fault and making excuses. The ego likes to say, ‘I don’t care’ rather than ‘I am hurt’.
Numbing Hurt: Taking the edge off by using sex, alcohol, drugs, work, and caretaking as an distraction.
Stockpiling Hurt: You firmly pack down your hurt and you continue to dismiss it until your body decides enough is enough and shuts down.
Hurt and the Fear of High Centering: The fear of recognizing fear or anger would eventually lead to you becoming stuck. You know if you acknowledge it a little, you can’t move back. But if you move forward it will open the floodgates
It is important to acknowledge and sit-in-the emotion; feel it. What are your emotions saying to you? Write the narrative you are telling yourself. What situation is causing the discomfort?
Secondly, challenge the narrative you are telling yourself. What do you know to be true? A lot of the time, we believe the first narrative our minds create. Our first narrative is filled with of shaming, negative comments and untruths. It may take awhile to sift through these feelings. The process is definitely not always overnight, but it’s important to create a narrative of truth.
Lastly, accept your new truth. Learn from it and release the emotion. Guess what? You are learning to embrace the messy parts of life.