Updated: Jun 26, 2020
There are times when we all feel a bit agitated, snappy, short tempered, fidgety, sad, sluggishness or a sense of dissatisfaction. You can even sense a feeling of 'not being quite right' but you don’t know why. These emotions can lead to cycles of negative self-talk and, rather than pausing to try and understand what is going on, it is easier to ignore them.
We avoid those ‘sticky’ feelings so we don’t have to face them. We numb them with alcohol or drugs or binge eating. We distract ourselves, choosing ‘busyness’ over stillness. Busy with tasks and to-do lists, with endless episodes on Netflix, with mindlessly scrolling on our phones or throwing ourselves into exercise.
We distract ourselves from the discomfort because deep down we know that facing it may lead to more discomfort. Those feelings are trying to tell us something, but we avoid them so we don’t have to listen. Listening means we hear something we don’t want to. It means we have to acknowledge something about ourselves, change a behaviour or act differently. We might have to do something.
But have you noticed what happens if you don’t listen to that discomfort? Those feelings become magnified, the fidgeting gets worse, feelings of sadness and dissatisfaction get bigger, and there is more negative talk.
"Whatever makes you uncomfortable is your biggest opportunity for growth" - Bryant McGill, Author
Recently, I found myself in this cycle. I knew I had loads of important things I wanted to do to get ahead. I had a head full of things I should be doing, but I wasn’t doing any of those. I was distracting myself with the small things that really didn’t need doing but I couldn’t find focus. I felt heavy in my head and tummy, and lethargic. I was snappy and short tempered and lacked any motivation. That all quickly turned into negative talk, berating myself for being lazy, for achieving nothing, for wasting time. It was driving me mad.
I couldn’t take the negativity, so I made myself sit still for a short while and just breathe. It was hard to stay focused, and for the first five minutes my mind wouldn’t settle. I was fidgeting in my seat, my back ached and I kept telling myself off for not doing it ‘right’.
But it passed. And I became still.
I noticed things I hadn’t noticed when I was busy doing nothing….things that were going on in my body, in my mind. I listened to the discomfort and I could sense where it was coming from. When I understood, there was nothing to do or change, but understanding meant I was kinder to myself. I let myself off the hook. I knew what was going on and that it was OK.
Do not underestimate the power of simply taking a few minutes to be still to listen to your own discomfort. You hold a lot of wisdom within and simply allowing the discomfort to rise, rather than ignoring it, can bring you comfort and peace.
Try it now. Stop. Sit. Close your eyes and breathe.
Gemma Brown is a certified coach who works with successful women, 1-2-1 and in groups, to identify their strengths and build confidence which enables them to have the self-belief to fearlessly bring their whole being into all areas of life. Gemma is based in Cambridgeshire and carries out face to face coaching in the area as well as 1-2-1 coaching via Skype and Zoom. For more about Gemma, visit her 'About' page.