It is crazy to me to look back and see how much of my life was spent trying to avoid discomfort and unhappiness. It is scary to see how much we do this as a society. I am not sure when we arrived here, but at some point, we decided that we have to fix anything unpleasant or inconvenient, even if it is healthy. We often try to do this the easiest way we can, through distraction and intoxication and denial.
Avoiding discomfort leads to short sighted choices and situations that are not dealt with as we try to kick the can down the street just one more time. Every time an uncomfortable situation arises we tell ourselves it is the last time we’ll deal with it unskillfully. We will definitely turn over a new leaf and do the hard work next time.
Discomfort as a Part of Life
Realizing that discomfort and unhappiness and difficulty are a part of life was revolutionary for me. They are not right or wrong, they are just emotions that we are programmed to dislike to promote change. It is our wanting them being different that causes us so much difficulty because we run from thing to thing trying to hold them at bay. We never learn to just sit with them.
I kept them at bay through drugs and alcohol, of course, but also through other more subtle tactics. I re-wrote situations in my mind to shift blame or used mental gymnastics to avoid responsibility altogether. I changed my motives for doing something retroactively to make the outcomes seem more in line with something I wanted. I lied and cheated and made up stories, all to avoid that icky feeling of something being uncomfortable.
And things stayed uncomfortable as a result because I was using all these different strategies to pretend there was no problem. You won’t put mousetraps out if you convince yourself the rodents are pets.
What are you doing to avoid dealing with something?
How do you avoid discomfort?
What would it be like to just deal with the source?
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I write, podcast and make videos about living in freedom through mindfulness, intentionality, compassion, and equanimity.
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