Part of making positive progress is being willing to feel unpleasant feelings, such as nervousness, anxiety, fear, stress, shame, irritation, or guilt.
Now that I have much more free time on my hands with my new job, I realized how much I wanted to spend some of that time creating more connections with others. Which would require me to go out and seek new friends—for the sole reason of making new friends. Not because they’re my classmates, or my coworkers, or because it’s just convenient for me. I have to go out there. And that scares me so much. I’ve been putting this off and making excuses for weeks. There have been multiple meetups I could have gone to, but chose not to because I fear the feeling of being vulnerable and alone in these social situations.
Stretching out of our comfort zones is hard. We all know that. But what if we simply reframed the nervousness, anxiety, fear, stress, shame, irritation, or guilt into a general feeling of “unpleasantness” or “discomfort”? In doing so, we diffuse some of the power these emotions can have over us.
See it as like being in a cold room. You’re shivering. You’re balled up. And you’re a bit uncomfortable. Are you going to sit and criticize yourself for feeling uncomfortable in the cold room? Are you going to sit and whine about why this has happened to you? Or, are you going to simply walk up to the thermostat, see that it’s at 65 degrees, and calmly turn it up to 70, and be on your merry way, knowing that the heater will gradually kick in?
Sometimes, we get so wrapped up into what our thoughts are, why they are here, and how awful we are to have them, that we don’t realize the simplicity in the solution.
The equivalent of turning up the heat would be acknowledging the uncomfortable feeling, feel it in your body, and surrender it. Knowing that it will gradually fade away on its own. Like turning up the thermostat, you didn’t need to get so involved in how the heater works or go into it like a mechanic and start moving some parts around, it just works on its own.
What do I mean by feeling it in the body? When you sense a feeling come up, try to see where in your body that you feel it. For me, fear and anxiety form as tightness in my chest and throat. Stress manifests as tension in my back and forehead. It will be different for everyone. So when a feeling arises, try to feel out where it’s residing. And when you’re doing this, focus on the physical feeling of it and let go of all chatter or thoughts in your head regarding the process or the situation you may be in. Concentrate on the physical side of it. Feel it. Acknowledge it. And when you do that, you’ll realize you’re just dealing with the feeling of being uncomfortable. The feeling of tension in your chest is uncomfortable. The feeling of tightness in your forehead is uncomfortable. And you stop cycling the endless stories and dialogue in your mind that continues to feed these emotions. And you realize that the fear, anger, or nervousness is not some big monster you need to fight. You realize that simply dealing with the physical feeling can be all you need in order to push past them, and get out there to do something great. Like make new friends, or write a blog post, or start a project.
In the end, I like to think of feelings as just feelings. All feelings, no matter how uncomfortable they may seem, are temporary and will pass. Don’t let it take over and hijack your goals, ambitions, and dreams. These feelings of discomfort will always be part of life, and the best thing we can ever do about them is to notice them and learn to smile at them with faith.
Kisses & Meows,