A Creative Way Out Of Discomfort

Florence, Italy

As the years go by, I find that the number one cause of most of my challenges is fear of discomfort. From lack of creative impulse to resistance to exercise to procrastination, discomfort is a seedling for self-deception because unlike it’s sister, pain, discomfort it’s not something that hits you in the face. Discomfort does seem to create tremendous resistance though.

What causes discomfort varies. Anything can make you uncomfortable, from a block of time alone to a mistake you’ve made in front of others. Being uncomfortable just seems to trigger different reactions in all of us. For most of us though, being uncomfortable is so heavy that it causes us to do anything but be WITH the discomfort. Instead of being with it, we usually avoid the uncomfortable experience or quickly find a distraction.

For example, something happened recently that has made me upset. My way of dealing with discomfort is almost always to try to obliterate it. My mind wants to fix it, though deep down, I know it’s out of my control and it also wouldn’t be in my best interest to try. So, once I truly understood this, I made a decision not to fix it because to do so would rob me of peace and I want peace more than anything. I committed myself to really understanding the resistance and accepting that allowing the discomfort is the only way out.

As Alanis Morrisette sings, “The only way out is through”.  Yet, this is counter to every human tendency. So, what to do when you become aware of the discomfort?

1) Stop everything and let it be. Let it be ugly. Let it be embarrassing. Let it piss you off. Allow the feelings fully.

2) Forgive yourself for being a human being who by reflex resists uncomfortable feelings about most situations. Forgive yourself for the ugly thoughts.

3) Breathe. Breathe. Breathe again.

4) Decide that attempting to fix it or run from it gets you the same results you’ve gotten before and so, it’s time for something new. Commit to that decision.

5) Now, let it go, but really let it go – even for just a 15 minute interval. Go pick your favorite creative outlet – even if you don’t feel at all willing – and just bask in the creative outlet for a little while. You may have to repeat steps 1-5 throughout the day.

Hence these photos. I made them. I love what they remind me of: freedom, beauty and reconnecting with my love for a place that has enamored me from afar since my twenties – a place that I’ve visited multiple times and recently in my mind, reformed. The greens and blues bring me peace. Tweaking them in Lightroom makes me happy. Mood changer!

This new habit seems to work really well for me. I hope it helps you next time you feel humanly uncomfortable.

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