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Why We Should Lean into Our Discomfort

Learning Lessons from Our Habits

“Know that one day, your pain will become your cure”
~ Rumi

Distractions, we put in place to divert us from our pain.
And, yet, years on, and it’s all still there with just one thought.
Feeling too much to face, even still, in our thought storm.
So we settle, back into our human distraction, waiting for the truth to come to us.
When we, already, are the truth.
~ Nicole

I wrote this poem from what felt like a place of pain. It channelled through me, as I scribbled it into my journal – seemingly coming from nowhere – as my thoughts tried to catch up with making sense of it.

As it turns out, it came from my wisdom. Even in a place of sheer, messy, blackness; in the dark night of my soul, there was a beauty that I couldn’t see at the time, until the moment passed. In this time, I didn’t realise I was ‘in my wisdom’ (because you can never not be) as I was also in my habit, you see.

We all have habits. When we are in them, they are very good at seemingly shrouding us from the true light within. Habits are distractions. On their most simple level, they are patterns of destructive thinking; that is all. I believe that we are always operating via ‘thought in the moment,’ as humans; so, actually, everything we see is a projection of our own thinking about the world. Whilst I knew this, from some profound insights I had experienced on my spiritual healing journey (mentioned in previous article), something still didn’t quite click for me in relation to seeing my habits, though.

What I did recognise is this: habits often become mechanisms which stop us from identifying with the truth about the pain underneath them. Through habits, we avoid identifying with our pain. Habits are great at masking the truth, as they suddenly become all we can see.

When we are in this space, we can also begin to feel stuck, caught in our thinking about it. We forget that we are whole and perfect, and that we can drop our habits at any time by tapping into our truth. In my pain, I forgot that I had a continual flow of wisdom, and this poem was a nice reminder of that (once I figured out what it meant)!

Habitual Thinking: An Inside-Out Job!

My biggest habit is thinking that I can be abandoned. The last few weeks have been excruciatingly uncomfortable, because I have felt an urgency towards these feelings. I was convinced that everything external was about abandonment, because that is the lens I was seeing the world through. Initially, I didn’t even see this as habitual thinking; I just saw it as part of my ‘story’.

When we are in our habits, it can feel uncomfortable to stay there, but it can also feel uncomfortable to try and get out, too; actually, it can feel uncomfortable to just do anything… So often, we will try and change the external to avoid our habit. We might think we can ‘control’ it, that we can stop or the pain. We may try to push it away with more habits; ones we don’t even realising we are using to mask it. Mine were over-work and eating! It was only through self-enquiry into the outward patterns that arose out of this habitual thinking that led me to some profound learning. The first thing that I realised was that no matter what we change externally, habit still feels messy, and this just proves that the pain actually comes entirely from within. Which, of course, means there is always something to learn.

Staying Curious: How to Learn Lessons from Our Habits

Based on my own understanding of how life operates, I would find myself explaining to clients to “sit in your discomfort and just be comfortable with it until it passes.” When I was in it myself, this time, I regretted every time those words had passed my lips; when it came to dealing with my painful thought-storm about abandonment, it felt far too much to face.

Of course, that was just thinking too. What I did, though, was stay curious. Often, when we hit against such painful experiences, there are always lessons to be learned; as Rumi said – “one day, your pain will become your cure.” So, as I did sit in my discomfort, beautiful insight began to drop into my heart. I realised that I had forgotten just how easy it is to actually settle into our human distractions, as well. Whilst feeling the feelings arising in my chest from my habitual thinking about being abandoned was totally heart-wrenching, it was actually strangely quite comfortable there, too. I realised, I had often frequented this space, simply rolling around in the comfort of my familiar pain, almost waiting for the truth to come to me. Eventually, because it is a familiar feeling, we can feel safer within the discomfort, getting cosy there. It felt like my ‘story’ to be abandoned; it began to feel safe.

What I realised, from seeing this thinking floating around in my head, though, was a wider insight: it isn’t so much about sitting comfortably in our discomfort, so much as curiously leaning into it, dipping our toes into the raw and excruciatingly painful waters of our messy emotions, only to learn something new, and see it for what it really, truly is.

Our Habits Aren’t Our Truth: They Simply Point Us in the Direction of the Beautiful Truth

Because, really, no habit is the truth. Our habits and our pains are not who we are; they are simply human mechanisms which facilitate great opportunity for us to learn about who we are, really, underneath all that we think we are.

You see, we may even think that our discomfort is who we are. I was convinced it was my story that I was worth abandoning, but everyone around me – I bet even you, and you don’t know me – could tell me that it isn’t. We so often see that our habits, and the thinking under them, is who we really are. But, it isn’t.

If you’ve ever been told to ‘get comfortable with discomfort’, you may have experienced the same. We settle into our human distractions, often seeing them as a safe space to be, becoming friends with our pain, allowing our feelings, honouring the mess of the emotions, waiting for it to pass. But, there is more to it than that. I heard that I needed to feel my feelings, and I did, but there’s no need to feel stuck there. In our habits, we simply forget that we are always ok!

What Is the Truth? The True Nature of Life Via Thought and Universal Guiding Energy

None of it is the truth. You see, whilst we can sit in our mess whilst it is there, and we can know that it will pass, we don’t have to try and work it out, and try to find the truth. We don’t need to stay in the habit, waiting for the truth to come to us. Why? Because we are already the truth. Our habits and our discomforts are simply beautifully creative thoughts that mask the truth of who we really are.

Firstly, I see that we are all living in the feeling of our thinking in any moment. The only reason that our habitual thinking can ever hurt us is if we believe it to be truth. It is human nature to live life via thought in the moment. As long as we ‘think’ and believe, in the moment, that we are <unlovable, controllable, not enough, empty, depressed, anxious, add your own>, this is the only time that any thought can harm us. The lesson I learned was that in some of my ‘moments’ I believed I was unlovable, and so I was living in my painful thinking of unlovable thinking, and masking it with habitual behaviour. Underneath everything, though, we are all whole, perfect and complete. Anything we think otherwise it just a believe system that doesn’t serve us, other than as a very useful learning opportunity.

Secondly, I believe that there is something bigger – a universal energy – that guides us through life, that we are all part of one greater whole (namaste, and all that!). As we are all part of this beautiful, whole and complete universal energy, how can we be anything other than perfect? There is no separation; we are all one. I thought I was able to be abandoned, but how can I be abandoned when the truth is that there is no separation? All that had happened was that I experienced habitual ‘abandoned’ thinking based on my early experiences in human life, which led to years of ‘abandoned’ feelings – which later became a safe place for me to hang out because it was what I was used to. In that space, it felt easier to stay in the familiar playground, becoming comfortable with the discomfort, allowing me to think it was part of who I was – my ‘story’ – even adding layers and layers of other habits in to mask the pain of it – over-work, over-eating – more and more distractions. But none of it was the truth.

Curiously Leaning Into Our Discomfort Points Us Back to Our Truth

Layer through layer, I leant inquisitively into my discomforts, dipping my feelers into them, self-enquiring into each habit as a layer of thinking. Seeing my thinking for what it was – just thought – and noticing the true nature of life – that we are always connected, that there is a universal, spiritual, guiding energy glittering through our souls – was all I had to do for them to release.

The thing is, habits – and their associated discomforts – are actually positive in this way; there is always information in the feeling, which offers us truly beautiful insights about who we really are. Seeing our habits and thoughts for what they are is like looking in a mirror – and we can embrace that because it offers us the gift of evolution!

Eventually, I learned to see my habits for what they are, and I enquired: what is underneath the feelings of needing to eat, needing to work, eventually getting to feelings of abandonment. I realised, instead of seeing the truth, I had been waiting for it to come to me. Years of pain, waiting for an ‘answer’ to arrive externally, and the truth was within me, all along. There is no abandonment; and, if there is no abandonment, there is no habit! Once you see it for what it is, it all drops away.

The truth is, we are not our habits, we are not our pain; we are not our distractions. We are who we are before we thought we were who we were. Our habits and our pains are just stunningly beautiful lessons, there to remind us that we are humans, experiencing life via thought, via habit, and that underneath everything, we are all part of the perfect oneness. All is well – there is nothing to do, but gently lean into the messiness, remembering to use it to help us return to the truthful wisdom within our hearts.

Infinite wisdom,

Nicole x

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