We know that the things we learn about ourselves often don’t come from comfort, and mostly from discomfort. It’s in the discomfortable where we get to experience the areas where we are not completely free, relaxed. The trigger has gone off. Some attention is needed. There is something to discover, life is telling us something.
This discomfort doesn’t necessarily have to be anything heavy, such as big loss, trauma, depression. It is just as much in the little things. I find it’s there almost in every day. What I like about utilising the little things for seeing what there is to see, is the low risk and light-heartedness. If we get it ‘wrong’, it doesn’t matter so much. We can experiment. And because it is only little, often we dare to look a little further. However, we often we arrive in the same place the ‘big stuff’ takes us to. Damn.
Putting daily discomfort to good use
Let me delve into this by using a recent ‘little thing’ in my own life. This event took me on a journey for sure, and yes, I landed in some bigger stuff. I’d like to share as a way to encourage others to use the daily little things for self reflection. And not go past them too quickly. But to stop and put the discomfort to good use.
My little thing literally was a little thing. A lamb.
I recently got a lamb, as a fun experience for my children. I knew it was going to bring me some stress. The process leading up to it already did. I started to think I shouldn’t do it. That this stress/ no-space-feeling was a sign that it wasn’t the right thing to do at the moment.
But I was committed. As there was more to this than just my children’s experience. As there are 1000 fun experiences for the girls, I could choose a less stressful one…
The week before I had seen my girls enjoying the neighbour’s lamb so much, and I thought: why am I not even considering this? Why have I never done this? And feeling into this, this underlying core belief came up: I saw having a lamb as ‘something we don’t do’. It is for other people.
And this ‘not for me, it is for others’ is an old one. An old thought, for many other things/experiences in my life. This toy, these clothes, this holiday, these cool people, etc. For others, not for me.
So, time to say goodbye to this ‘not-for-me-nonsense’. The phone rang, if the lamb could be delivered today. Ok.
Lamb arrived. And more stress arrived.
It’s not about what is happening, it’s about what the happening evokes
I felt very restless, stressed and incredibly insecure. Let’s sit with this. As a starting point for my reflection I reminded myself of this:
It (the uncomfortable) never is about that what is happening itself, it is about what this happening evokes, the beliefs or ideas we have about this happening and freeing ourselves from that.
So… if this stress wasn’t about having the lamb, what is it about? Feeling into this, a few things bubbled up.
- I am doing something so unknown to me, which in my head is so familiar and easy for others. Thought: ‘I feel so… embarrassed I guess… afraid of what others think of me handling this like an amateur’.
- I knew I was going to need help with a few things. Thought: ‘How dare you ask for help! Sort your own shit out!’
- What if it dies? ‘People will blame me for not looking after it- being the amateur.’
Overall, not confident at all, and very worried what people would think of me! I thought I had moved on from that. It was good to see this. It still pops up when I’m not feeling confident apparently.
I also had a sleepless night, stress in the background kept me awake. And feeling into this deeply, I was taken back years ago, to a time I was feeling very insecure in my work. I remember saying that I couldn’t remember a night I had slept through. Broken nights for years. The stress from this insecurity was enormous. And there it was again. It felt exactly the same.
Luckily it was one night only and not years. And that’s mostly because of the following insight I have really made my own: these thoughts, these feelings are not the real me, it’s just a layer at play. And with that it loses power. It’s all fake.
And yes, I handled it all a bit average at the start. But now I am a pro, haha. And I also had to ask for help, multiple times. And as it turned out, people love helping, and it was great to see people again, and so on. All lovely really.
But it wasn’t over yet. With the above beliefs I was only scratching the surface. A couple of days later….ouch… more surfaced through this whole experience, and I got to the core of some bigger themes, and I am grateful for seeing these too. Incredible what came from this lamb experience – and all had nothing to do with this woolly creature.
Follow the uncomfortable
Little experiences like this, I could have easily gone past it and not gone so deep with it. But that’s how I am wired now, and I see how much it brings me. If we feel uncomfortable, we may as well use it to our benefit. ‘Don’t stress about it, it’s nothing’, is something we often tell ourselves or others. Instead I say ‘feel into it, what does life want to tell you? What is there to see?’
The same week a friend had a ‘very little thing’ and we made the most of this opportunity! It regarded a minor argument with a person she worked for, over a broken item (value$20) and who should pay for it. Instead of solving this quickly (pay, just leave it, as really, who is going to fight over $20?), she felt into it deeply. And the discoveries were immense. Similar feelings this experience had evoked took her back to childhood. The past is still at play today. Seeing this now, that the emotional responses haven’t changed is a massive insight. By just seeing it, 80% of the shift takes place. On our way to a new, more mature response, to an event that is similar to something from the past.
Look out for little stuff. Don’t go past them too quickly, that’s just a way to get rid of the uncomfortable. Instead follow the uncomfortable, where does it take you? Use it. Turn it into an opportunity for seeing.
Enjoy! Really, enjoy!