I was reading Kylie’s blog the other day. This particular line caught my eye:
“Sink into comfort. See how much you can stand.”
I was nodding as I was reading thinking, “Wow. that’s so true and that’s something I want to write about. “
Then I re-read it and realized it actually said ‘Sink into DIScomfort…”
Giggling at my inability to read simple words, I was struck by how true both are… and realized this is a topic long overdue for my blog.
Sinking into DIScomfort
When we are in pain, a very normal, natural reaction is to disconnect from the pain so that we don’t have to deal with it.
Therefore, we talk about sinking into discomfort quite a lot here.
We talk about ways to meet discomfort, how to allow it to be there, how to hold it and listen to it.
We practice techniques (like Owl Eyes) that make it easier to open to the discomfort versus running from it, denying it, or disconnecting from it.
But… what about sinking into Comfort?
Should be simple, right? Comfort feels good… right?
And yet, I’ve noticed this sneaky, insidious thing about comfort.
I’ve noticed how much discomfort begins to build when I actually begin to feel comfort or wellbeing to a greater extent than before.
It appears I’ve learned to tolerate a certain level of comfort in my daily life. When that level is increased beyond the norm, the comfort eventually becomes uncomfortable.
It’s as if the greater the level of comfort I’m experiencing in my life, the more likely I am to somehow sabotage it especially if the level of comfort is greater than what I normally experience on a day-to-day basis.
Perhaps an example would be helpful.
Let’s take a peak into my intimate relationship.
Inevitably, when things are going really well and we are feeling super close, one of us eventually freaks out.
It’s generally not conscious. Everything is great and then, just like that, we are fighting over something incredibly silly and non-important (in the larger perspective).
The fight will drive this wedge between us and bring us back down closer to our normal pattern of relating that isn’t quite so deep.
Speaking for myself, I can’t tolerate the increased comfort.
I become terrified that it won’t last and start wondering (mostly unconsciously) if I can trust it, when/if it’s going to all come crashing down, and if it’s really OK for me to feel this way with him.
Eventually, I get outrageously upset over something small.
There is a blow-up and things return to a more ‘normal’ level of interaction and closeness. Our comfort baseline is restored.
The more I watch this pattern, the more I become aware of the fears and anxieties as they surface.
Then, I am able to sink into the discomfort of feeling increased comfort… which opens the possibility for even more comfort to enter into my life and relationship.
I see a similar pattern when working with clients.
Generally, when someone first comes to see me it is because there is some issue they want help with – a pattern of pain or anxiety that is interfering with their lives.
At some point in our work together, that issue resolves.
And then, all these deeply held other fears and anxieties begin to surface.
What if the pain comes back? What does it mean to feel good? How can I maintain this sense of wellbeing? I don’t want to lose it! Why am I so anxious and afraid now that things are going so well? What’s wrong with me?
These aren’t little fears.
These are deep, core terrors just as powerful as the original pain or anxiety that brought them to work with me.
Only now, my clients are in a place of greater overall wellbeing and have more resources available to help them meet the discomfort.
The practice of consciously sinking into comfort.
Consciously sinking into comfort allows us to become aware of these fears and doubts as they begin to surface.
We can meet them as they arise and continue to sink deeper into both the comfort and the discomfort simultaneously.
The more we can tolerate comfort (sink into it) the more we will be able to appreciate and honor the times in our lives where things are flowing and filled with wellbeing.
And, over time, we learn to tolerate greater and greater amounts of comfort.
Life begins to be a bit more balanced.
Times of increased comfort become stages for growth and learning about oneself. One no longer has to sabotage comfort. Growth through comfort becomes a possibility.
Now, as I’m writing this piece, I’m wondering if learning to sink into the discomfort of comfort, of learning to tolerate increased levels of comfort, might just be ‘how’ one grows through joy rather than pain. Interesting!
It’s rather an odd thing – to be talking about comfort as something one must learn to tolerate.
What are your thoughts? Have you experienced similar moments when comfort becomes uncomfortable? How do you meet the discomfort of increased comfort? How much comfort can you stand? 😉
I found this newsletter well timed for my life. More and more I’ve been finding myself in an awareness of being in a good place internally, yet I have a habit of pulling myself out of it. As I practice being happy, I discover a deep-seeded fear of happiness and a desire to maintain an equilibrium of discomfort.
To me it’s about surrendering an old way of being (my very identity as I have known it) in the world in favor for a new and more enjoyable one. A method I’ve found that’s worked for me is stating my intention, to be in a place of joy no matter what, and asking the universe for support on this endeavor.
I still have a long way to go, but it’s nice to have it spoken to. I think the big secret to happiness is letting go of the attachment to being unhappy, funny to think about.
Really well said, Sarah. I especially identify with the piece about “surrendering an old way of being…” Thanks for your comment!
I am SO excited about this post. Have been since you told me you were writing it. Because honestly, even thought I was the one who wrote that, “sink into discomfort”, it’s often harder for me to sink into comfort.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, as I’m actively working to make this summer more comfy for myself, so I’m not a giant ball of cranky like I usually am in the heat. It is a very, very interesting practice. At the same time, I’m learning to dialogue with the DIScomfort, to see what it has to tell me.
It’s such an odd thing – finding it harder to sink into comfort even than discomfort.
Learning to tolerate increased comfort is such a rich practice, however, for learning more about oneself. And, personally, I’m rather tired of having to have everything fall apart and be really difficult in order to grow.
I’m quite enjoying the practice (at least conceptually – I still need tons of practice applying it regularly to my life 🙂 ) of learning about myself through comfort vs hardship.
Thanks so much for reminding me of this concept – even inadvertently! And, I wish you much comfort and ease throughout the summer!
Mary Jane says
I cannot help but wonder whether we sometimes resist greater comfort because on some level, perhaps unconscious, we do not truly believe we are deserving of comfort and ease?
Ah! Now that’s the million dollar observation! Who knows what beliefs and fear may be discovered as we consciously practice sinking into comfort. 😉
this is kinda poking me in the brain in a way that I don’t quite understand, but that I know means there’s something incredibly useful to be understood.
(My brain says, hey, put this through the Shivanautical Bing-o-Matic asap so that we can quit with the poking. Brain, consider your suggestion considered.)
I am so intrigued as to what will come out of pondering this…
Yes! Please do put it through the Shivanautical Bing-O-Matic! And, then, if you wish, let me know what you discover.
Great to see you here, Reba. Best of luck with your pondering and flailing!
Emma McCreary says
I have something like this where I sabotage my self-care efforts. It’s a voice that’s like, “I’m a bad person. So I don’t deserve to be happy. So I’m going to stay up late and eat whatever and not make any goals because it doesn’t matter anyway.”
So perhaps self-forgiveness is part of this. Where you allow yourself to have good feelings whether you “deserve” them or not.
Interesting! I really like where you are taking this discussion, Emma.
I’m going to have to spend some time with the notion of self-forgiveness and how it applies to tolerating comfort for myself. Similar to what Reba said above (the poking her in the brain part), for me what you wrote feels important and it doesn’t quite yet connect. Time for some pondering myself! Thanks much for your insight.
Larissa — thanks for this insightful post. The way I sabotage my comfort is by NOT doing the things that will make me comfortable. I’m the kid who is cold but won’t put on a sweater. Procrastination is the enemy of comfort in my life. No mental reservations about whether I deserve it, just delays about taking action. Obviously there’s something under this — what you wrote may be helpful in understanding it. Thanks!