Have you signed up to the YDB monthly newsletter?
If not, you’re really missing out 😉
But if you have, you will have read that this month that I have been practising being OK with discomfort for a few years now.
Now, before I continue I am going to be completely transparent about something: up until my mid 30s, I would say that I spent my life trying to navigate a lot of emotional, mental, circumstantial discomfort and I would have to say I failed at alot of this, because well.. I got very ill – which is the clear sign of not being able to manage everyday discomfort ( I didn’t realise it at the time but I was constantly stressed)… Only now with M.E I had added physical discomfort too!
But since recovering from M.E, I have consciously cultivated a very different kind of life – one of deep comfort! I had to rebuild my life due to M.E and so I chose to rebuild it consciously choosing comfort (stress-free living). I am very grateful to have a comfortable life. But a few years ago, I realised that although it was wonderful to have consciously created a comfortable life (isn’t that what we all want?!), something about it felt like I was just in avoidance of discomfort. Maybe I was even scared of discomfort threatening my nice cosy cocoon I had created for myself. So, this began a new phase of practicing being ok with discomfort. I decided to CHOOSE discomfort, as a way of training myself to deal with any adversity. Life is full of adversity and I wanted to be able to deal with adversity with peace and grace. I wanted to be able to deal with anything that life throws at me, and know that I have everything within me to cope. For this reason I have started to push my boundaries of comfort.
I teach manifestation and I always tell newbies to not choose something big to manifest because it has too much meaning to them and so it will be harder to manifest, instead they should choose small things to manifest first, just to get the proof that is all works first and then once they have their own experiential proof, they can work up to the big stuff. Now this is sound advice, that no-one takes! Literally no-one… Except me! I am applying this principle to my discomfort. Start small – prove to myself that I can do it, then I feel confident I can handle the big stuff in the same way.
This means being OK with uncomfortable emotions, conflicting thoughts (as discussed in the newsletter video) and yes, physical discomfort and pain!
I have covered the mental discomfort of 2020 in the newsletter video – if you missed it click Here , so here I’m going to talk about physical discomfort.
When I first learnt Quantum Touch I self-healed everything physical the moment I noticed it, just because I could and having recovered from M.E I was keen to avoid discomfort or pain for a long time! (I felt like with 4 years I had paid my dues!)
Nowadays I see pain as a teacher, and I don’t self-heal until I have learnt the lesson my mind-body-spirit system is bringing to my attention – even if that lesson takes me a year. Yes really – even though I can heal myself, I actually choose to stay in pain or discomfort until I have learnt what it is teaching me. And this is the key – you have to choose it.
I have been taking hot-cold showers for about a year now (20 secs of cold, 10 secs of hot on rotation for 5 minutes – tabata set style) – because of the health benefits (but honest -mainly for the morning metabolism boost it gives to keep my weight stable and to give me more energy in the mornings).
So, you would think that this should be sufficient already – but no – I have recently signed up to The Kion Cold Thermo Challenge to go further with my cold water endurance. There are lots of benefits to cold exposure https://getkion.com/articles/body/cold-exposure-benefits/ but I my motivation (although I want the benefits)
is actually because I hate the cold. But hating it, means that it has power over me, so I want to master the cold not be a victim of it. I know that my mental attitude towards the cold limits me, and I don’t want to be limited by it.
To give you an example – my feet hate the cold soo much that if even a toe touches a cold surface it cramps. My feet + cold surface = cramp.
I can’t tell you how many beautiful waterfalls I’ve stood by – standing on a rock wanting to admire the beauty that surrounds me, only to be bent over in excruciating pain.
Cold water and me do not mix. At least it didn’t mix… until I started training myself to CHOOSE it.
I’m a great believer in the POWER of CHOICE.
You see, when you CHOOSE something there is power in your commitment.
When you choose something consciously and then FOLLOW THROUGH WITH ACTION, it shows your mind that no matter what it says, you’re DOING IT! It’s a type of mind mastery.
One of the 3 key directives of your mind is to protect you. In the original mind manual, protection meant “from danger”. But in the upgrades (downgrade?!) through the centuries it’s changed from “protection from danger”, to “protection from discomfort”.
But actually there can be many benefits: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual from experiencing discomfort and transcending that discomfort.
But the modern mind just tries to avoid all discomfort ALWAYS – even if there is a benefit to you. It’s like a crazy over-protective parent! But you can change this, by CHOOSING it and taking ALIGNED ACTION.
Your mind is super clever and adaptive – if you keep taking action, it gets with the programme, stops fighting you and starts encouraging you.
People always seem surprised when I tell them this – that over a relatively short period of CHOOSING, the mind actually stops fighting you and starts encouraging you.
I’ll give you an example from my daily hot/cold showers:
When I first started, my mind was a whinging whiny baby giving me every excuse under the sun not to turn the tap to cold!
“You don’t need this.”
“ It’s cold today, do it tomorrow”
“ This hot/cold thing probably doesn’t work, just keep the tap on hot. You know how much you love hot showers”
You get the idea.
I realised that my mind associated comfort with heat because quite rationally, I have lots of experience with loving heat! I love sunshine, hot holidays, bikram yoga, I love hot showers, as a woman my hotwater bottle clutched to my belly has sometimes been my best friend.
So in my mind Hot = Happiness, Cold = Unhappiness
So I had a real fight on my hands! So, every morning in the shower, an internal argument would rage inside of me, until I said one of the following out-loud:
“Thanks mind for trying to protect me, but shhhusssh I have got this” (and turned the tap to cold)
“ I know that hot is comfortable, but I choose vitality” (and turned the tap to cold)
“ I choose this dear mind, so step aside!” (and turned the tap to cold)
It took just under a month to notice that my mind had stopped trying to argue with me so hard – because it knew that it never won the argument, so it just got with the programme!
And this is when I noticed the cool bit; some days I would turn the tap to cold, and my mind would say, “that’s not cold enough, you haven’t turned it far enough if you want the benefit. Turn the tap some more.”
I kid you not.
When I turn the tap, I often have shampoo in my hair or eyes and I’m turning the tap with my eyes closed not to a specific setting (just towards cold) and sometimes I don’t turn it far enough (where I turn it to changes from Summer to Winter because of my boiler I’m guessing) and so my mind says, “hey you need to turn to colder!” so I thank my mind for the heads up and then turn to colder!
It’s coming up to a year since I started this practice and my mind has not only stopped fighting me, it’s telling me to go further!
I can genuinely say that I really like the cold part of my showers these days – there is no resistance from my mind, just encouragement! There is no morning struggle. No argument. My choice to turn the tap to cold is so uneventful and boring, that my mind quietly sits around and just shouts encouragement every once in a while if the coldness is lacking!
And let me just say that on super cold days and when I’m super tired, my mind does occasionally try it on and tells me to have a days off, but I still turn the tap to cold – just not super cold/freezing. And by taking this action once, by the 2nd time to turn the tap, my mind is back on board with me again and saying “go colder”. I have learnt that you always have to turn the tap – if you’re struggling that day, go slow, but always go! That’s been an important lesson I have learnt from my shower experience which I can translate to all areas of my life!
And so we come to the new Kion Cold exposure challenge… now I already do 5 minutes of hot/cold showers, but I wanted to go further with this challenge and I have seen/read that ending the shower with 2-3 minutes in just freezing cold water is really good for you and I felt that my hot/cold 5 minute showers had been good training for this.
Day 1 (I started later than the course start date) I started 2 minutes just freezing cold water at the end of the shower. I turn the tap farthest and longest I have ever attempted. I made sure the radio is on (for a cunning distraction) and off I went. I didn’t read the instructions for the course, I just CHOSE to do it, and did it!
It was very very cold and I had my eye on the clock for the full excruciating 2 minutes. Ben Greenfield gives a very important tip to people when starting out with this kind of challenge – and that’s to not yelp when you turn the water to cold. No shouting, swearing, screaming (which is most definitely a natural reaction!). This has actually been a very good tip, because if I chose to turn the tap to cold and scream, it might invalidate my choice in my mind’s perception and keep fighting the choice. But if you accept the cold, then your mind doesn’t fight you so much. So it was screamingly cold but I just smiled and tracked the seconds til it was over.
Day 2 – I considered watching the videos from the course about breathing to help you with the cold immersion but then I remembered Russell Brand getting in an icy lake with Wim Hof (the Ice Man) and Russell asking him, what he should do to prepare- expecting a breathing exercise or meditation or something (which to be fair, the Wim Hof Method does have! He’s got a book coming out, courses, breathing exercises and an app! Wim Hof Method) and Wim said,
“nothing, just get in!”
So Day 2 – I just turned it to freezing cold and that was that. By the end of the 2 minutes, I was quite used to the cold and would have happily stayed longer.
Day 3 – I have started to look forward to the freezing end of my showers already! So I upped it from 2 minutes to 3 minutes! It helps that it’s hot outside by starting in the Summer my mind will be trained before the Winter.
I loved it! 3 minutes of perfect invigoration! When the music on the radio ended and the dj started talking, I had a mini panic because music helps me be ok with anything – even freezing water. So with no music my distraction was gone.. So I decided to dance in the shower instead! And once I started to dance in the shower my mind thought, “hey! Where’s the party?” and joined in with enthusiasm and before I knew it, I was doing a rather un-choreographed version of the macarena in the shower and the 3 minutes sailed by! (unchoregraphed because I genuinely don’t know the correct dance moves)
(For the record, I actually hate songs with coordinated dance moves including the macarena, which is why I thought it was hysterical that of all the songs in the world to dance to in my freezing cold shower, it was this one that came to my mind! It has a wicked sense of humour).
Although, I feel like I may regret sharing my macarena story with you (I’m sure I’ll never hear the end of it!) I hope that you will see that being ok with discomfort can be more than ok – it can actually become fun!
Day 4 – it’s a very hot morning and I even considered skipping the hot/cold part of the shower and going for full freezing shower! But there are benefits from the hot/cold aspect and I decided to be patient and wait for the best bit at the end of the shower – the freezing part! I danced along to the radio and I lost track of time and ended up doing 4 minutes in the freezing water. I felt absolutely fantastic! I felt energised, awake, alert and ready to take on the world!
Maybe once we have trained the mind to stop fighting us, and even encourages us, somehow the discomfort isn’t uncomfortable any more – and from then on it actually becomes comfortable and fun!
What would life be different if we could transform all discomfort like this? What if instead of avoiding discomfort we welcomed it as a chance to become friends with it? What if an enemy (like cold water) could become a friend you looked forward to seeing?
That has been my experience …. I hope that by sharing my journey with physical discomfort, you can see how being ok with discomfort need not be challenging for long! I think people avoid discomfort because we expect it to continue for a long time – but if you have trained in any sport you will already know that what starts off difficult, over time becomes easier.
You can do this with any area of your life: when you CHOOSE something because you know what the benefits to you are and you WANT those benefits, then you can take charge of your overprotective parental mind, and re-train it to be your enthusiastic and excited friend instead!
Are you ready to take something you avoid/ hate and transform it into something you enjoy or even love?
You can do it too!
When you CHOOSE temporary discomfort for long-term gain, then you can transform discomfort into comfort!
I am already looking forward to tomorrow’s freezing cold water… hey Macarena! Hoi!
PS: If you have an inspiring story of overcoming discomfort, please share in the comments below, I love to hear inspiring stories!
If you would like help being OK with discomfort and feeling confident to meet all of life’s challenges then you might want to consider 1-2-1 sessions with Sharon?
If you are interested in 1-2-1 sessions with Sharon – you can arrange a Free Consultation Call by clicking here to see how Sharon can help. (Most clients only require 6 hours of sessions with Sharon).
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