“If you want to choose the pleasure of growth, prepare yourself for some pain.” – Ritu Ghatourey
Do you remember having growing pains when you were young? They weren’t pleasant were they, but who would want to stay the size of a baby? That’s just part of growing up.
However, what most people don’t recognize is that we continue to have growing pains – emotional, mental and spiritual ones – throughout our lives. However, discomfort now becomes our choice – we can avoid it, endure it, or embrace it. It’s no longer automatic.
Since our brains are hardwired to avoid pain, we often choose to avoid discomforts rather than embrace them. As a result, our personal and professional growth can become stunted.
What are some attitudes that people adopt to avoid the discomfort of growing?
- I’m happy where I’m at.
- I want to take it easy.
- I want to be comfortable.
- I don’t want to do that because it makes me uncomfortable.
- It’s too hard.
The trouble with staying in your comfort zone is that you can become self-absorbed, complacent, or easily bored. And if you have a creative nature, you’re going to be miserable.
Learning to be comfortable with discomfort is one of the most important skills you can develop. It’s how you’ll live a full and purposeful life. As Jean Shinoda Bolen said, “When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”
But why is growing emotionally, mentally, or spiritually so uncomfortable? Because it involves taking a risk. Letting go of control. Venturing into the unknown. But that’s okay. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.
When you regularly seek out fresh experiences, you become more creative and emotionally resilient. It makes you stronger and more confident as you see each success and conquer each hurtle. Can’t you look back and remember things that used to make you uncomfortable, but you can now do with ease?
How do you embrace discomfort?
- Develop a craving for something more in your life.
- Resist the pride of perfectionism.
- Be willing to make “mistakes” and see them as learning experiences instead.
- Deliberately seek out things that push your limits.
- Stop avoiding what’s hard.
Oftentimes you have to expand your understanding to overcome obstacles in front of you – understanding yourself, others, or how things work. It challenges your mental skills. But your brain is like a muscle and the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Conversely if you don’t stretch it, it will become flabby.
Make time for continual learning. Try a new language. Take a mindfulness course. Start a new hobby. You can tackle any project you set your mind to. As Calvin Coolidge said, “All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.”
If you make a practice of welcoming discomfort, your comfort zone will expand to include and embrace discomfort as a natural part of living. Then you can have a similar attitude to American writer Jonathan Lethem, “Discomfort is very much part of my master plan.”
Most things seem impossible until you do them. Remember that others have felt just as you do and they were able to push beyond that feeling. So can you.
Sometimes it helps to have someone coach you through a big growth spurt. If that’s where you’re at, I’d love to partner with you so you can more easily embrace discomfort. Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
Your approach to life is influenced by so many factors – your genetics, upbringing, culture, beliefs, values, and more. As a result, everyone has a unique approach to life that is either slightly or vastly different from your own.
Some people go through life doing just enough to get by. They’re the make doers who are perfectly happy making do with whatever happens. At the other extreme are the perfectionists who strive to do everything perfectly no matter how complicated the process is.
In the more sustainable range are the following:
- Simplifiers (who do everything the easiest way possible even if adding that little extra would produce better results).
- Optimizers (who look for the best solution even if it’s more complex and increases the odds for complications).
- Maximizers (who never cease to educate themselves and learn from others so they can excel at what’s important).
Actually, a balanced life involves all of the above, except for perfectionism, which only brings you stress from having unrealistic expectations of yourself. The trick is to know how to approach life on the terms that serve you the best in your present circumstances with the least amount of cost (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual). The good news is that you can choose to alter your approach to life whenever it suits you.
But how do you know which approach is the best at any given time?
You’ve no doubt heard the phrase about “knowing when to pick your battles”. Some things just aren’t worth fussing about. While others things matter a great deal. Often you don’t know what you’re dealing with until you’re well into the project. That’s why it’s so important to be flexible, resilient and adaptable.
However, as a general rule of thumb, whenever possible choose simplification, because it maximizes and frees up your personal energy. You’re not worn out from one task, so you have plenty of energy for the other activities that the day brings you.
Doing things simply makes it easier for not only yourself but for everyone involved. And it’s a huge time saver and keeps your stress level down. It’s best to avoid complicating something if there’s no need for it.
If you can simplify, streamline and document any system, you won’t have to expend the time and energy to re-figure it out in the future. This kind of simplification pays off in a big way. It even allows you to delegate tasks to others knowing that they’ll do the work to your satisfaction.
By simplifying your daily life as much as you can with supportive routines and habits, you have the luxury to optimize, or even maximize, the things that really matter to you. Instead of doing it so-so, you can truly master what you’re passionate about.
This principle works in all aspects of life and business. Just get started doing what needs to be done, step-by-step, and when you have the luxury of time, come back and master what’s really important. Over time, you may find that what you thought needed careful, meticulous attention doesn’t really need it, while things you neglected need your undivided attention.
When you’re mindful about reviewing your day, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and you’re tuned in to your own feelings and those of the people around you, you develop the flexibility and creativity to make course corrections in your approach to life as needed.
If you feel like you need to make some adjustments in your approach to life, please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to partner with you as you discover new ways to live life to the fullest.
“Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Have you ever tried to talk with a person who was stone-faced, showing no facial reaction at all to what you were saying? It didn’t take long before you began faltering for words, losing your train of thought and finding it hard to carry on, did it? Why is that? Because when there’s no emotional attunement, no empathy, we don’t feel connected, understood or valued. We need to feel like people are getting what we’re saying.
Emotional attunement takes more than looking at someone or hearing their words. It means using all of our senses to understand what they’re feeling so much that we feel it too. It takes being able to sense, interpret and respond to someone so that she/he doesn’t feel alone any longer. Our eyes become moist with tears when they hurt or beam with happiness to mirror their joy. We lean in and touch their arm with a gesture of compassion. We reflect back to them their emotions with words such as, “That must have been so frustrating!”
We learn to regulate and manage our emotions at an early age from our mothers. She reacted to our emotional state and responded in a way that cared for our needs and soothed us, making us feel secure. A mother gives her child this wonderful gift – the ability to decipher feelings and learn to self-regulate them. If, however, feelings are ignored or put down, the person will carry an inability to interpret and express emotion into their adulthood. The good news is that even if this gift was lacking from your life, you can still learn how to experience emotional attunement in your relationships today.
At times, everyone struggles with emotional attunement. We get caught up in our own drama or daily pressures distract us from really connecting emotionally with others, whether you’re an intimate couple, friends or business associates. If the situation makes you feel blamed, you may fall back to a defensive mode, which makes it impossible to see what the other person is feeling. It’s easy to settle for a transactional kind of relationship, solving problems and sharing responsibilities, without sharing your emotional self and listening for each other’s emotional needs.
The magic and power of emotional attunement is that it doesn’t require a lot from you. It simply takes listening with your ears, mind and heart. You don’t have to “fix” anything or offer advice. This is a huge aha moment for many men especially. You can do so much by doing nothing but tuning in!
Here are some reminders for fine-tuning your emotional attunement:
- Be fully immersed and attuned to what your friend is experiencing.
- Remain emotionally open to her friend’s feeling even if it makes you uncomfortable.
- Use subtle bodily reactions to make powerful connections – shed tears, touch her arm, nod, tilt your head in sync with the tilt of your friend’s head.
- Reinforce your being present by saying a few words that convey that, “I’m here for you” or “Yes, I understand”.
- Keep this as your goal – make your friend feel less alone.
Emotional attunement can be learned, but it’s learned experientially. It takes time, but you can learn to sharing your emotions and to trusting your own judgment in reading other people. When you surround yourself with people who practice emotional attunement you can speed up your own progress. If closer emotional connectedness is what you’re looking for, check out the Women in Leadership Retreat I’m leading with my colleague Nando Raynolds on May 20 and 21. This can be your Big Goal that we work on together.
If you’re an adult there’s no doubt that the world has changed significantly since you were a child. We didn’t grow up with smartphones, Twitter, Snapchat…
But how have you dealt with this ever-changing world we live in? Hopefully, you learned some basic survival skills from your parents – like how to adapt, deal with change, and basically be prepared to face any challenge head on.
When I think back to my childhood I see how my parents prepared me in some important ways for life in the 21st century. Yet there were other key skills I had to learn the hard way. As you read this article, think about how you can strengthen some of these psychological survival skills in yourself. It’s really never too late! If you’re a parent, teacher, or mentor of children think about how you can instill them in the next generation.
Here are five basic skills that we need to not just survive, but thrive:
- Self-discipline. A meaningful and fulfilling life is built gradually and purposefully. There are no shortcuts. I recently shared how important making your bed every morning is – this habit requires self-discipline and I’m grateful I learned that as a young child since it has served me well ever since.
- Emotional literacy. This one is huge! Our emotions affect everything we do. They influence our perceptions and opinions about ourselves, and others. When we can identify our prominent emotion, we’re less likely to project that emotion onto the situation. We’ll recognize that yes we’re sad, but the weather isn’t really worse than normal, our spouse isn’t being insensitive and we aren’t lazy because we didn’t workout yesterday. Practice labeling your emotions and teach your children to do the same and you’ll be far more objective and reasonable with yourself and others.
- Stress management. Our natural inclination, as children and adults, is to avoid pain. But meeting difficult challenges is how we grow as human beings. Make a practice of looking for ways to challenge your mind with mental obstacles and your body with physical obstacles. If you have children, don’t immediately solve all their problems. Let them experiment with various solutions so they learn to tolerate stress and gain confidence in their problem-solving abilities.
- Dealing with change. Life is full of uncertainty and change. If you’ve learned how to deal with change, your attitude, outlook, and ability to function in the real world will benefit, despite what happens. So try to view life as an adventure. When an unexpected change comes your way, lean into it and embrace it. The best way to teach this to your children is to model an adaptable, flexible attitude.
- Gratitude. Most of us learned to say thank you as children and we’ve probably taught our children to do the same. But true gratitude goes far beyond a perfunctory “thank you”. Gratitude means a deep awareness of why we are thankful and appreciative. I recommend you keep a gratitude journal and daily enter at least five things for which you’re grateful and encourage your children to do the same. When you begin and end each day with gratitude, your whole life shifts in a more positive direction.
Did you see areas where you could strengthen your skills? Don’t be discouraged. As I mentioned earlier, it’s never too late to enhance these life skills. Or maybe this article got you thinking about your child? Do you see her struggling in a certain area and you want to coach her through it? Please consider joining me at my upcoming Foundations of Life Coaching and NLP class in March. This is your opportunity to work with me personally and learn life-long skills so you know how to coach both yourself and others. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about whether this training is a good fit for you personally.
Does your work make you long for the weekend so you can escape? If so, you’re not alone. Feeling trapped has caused many people to think it’s time to make a change in their lives. You may want freedom to spend more time with your family, focus on your passion and to make a difference in the world as you fulfill your purpose in life.
So, is it time for you to make a change? Perhaps you’re thinking of starting your own business. How do you know if the time is right for you to make a change? Here are five ways to tell…
Do you want to escape? This signals that it’s time to go on a journey of self-discovery and uncover what’s not working and find out what you really want.
Do your priorities match your daily activities? Are you making time for your top priorities? Consistently doing what matters most is vital to feeling fulfilled.
Do you still feel excited about life? Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If you’ve lost the spark, look for it. Do less of what drains you. Try something new. Do more of what inspires you.
Do you look at others and think, “Why isn’t my life like that?” When you’re truly satisfied with your own life, you won’t be comparing yourself to others. Figure out what’s missing and fill that personal need you have.
How long has it been since you stepped out of your comfort zone? Growth only happens when you stretch yourself.
Just the fact that there’s so much talk about creating a work/life balance proves that many business owners are struggling. Does there really have to be a clear line between the two? Not necessarily. Don’t many choose to run their own business so they can blend all aspects of their lives together?
Think about an artist who doesn’t quit thinking about form and color when she’s doing the dishes or going for a walk with her loved ones. She delights in sharing her discoveries with those she loves and later she applies them to her work! In the same way, you can blend every aspect of your life in a harmonious way. How? Your life is the canvas and you can paint on it whatever you like by becoming mindfully self-aware.
Yes, mindfulness is a powerful tool, like the paintbrush in the hands of an artist. When you are centered and have greater mindfulness, your life takes shape as you make decisive choices instead of reacting to situations. Your choices become ultra-refined as you know what will enhance your life’s vision and what will not. You create a joyful palette of “colors” (activities, attitudes, intentions, emotional states, habits, mentors, friends) that work for you. They keep you from getting sidetracked by every bright “color” that comes along. You don’t get blindsided by mistakes because you’ve developed adaptive coping strategies. No matter what happens you can handle it for you’ve mastered your emotions and can see the whole picture as a life lesson.
Life is too short to spend it without living up to your full potential. If you know it’s time to make a change, why not start reassessing your life by taking my 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment, as it will help you pinpoint areas that need your attention first. Click here to download your free copy.