At some point in your journey out of food, you’ll probably find yourself feeling uncomfortable. This is when you’re feeling the urge to eat rather than feel your feelings of sadness or anger and it just hurts; when your heart says, “Go to the gym – you’ll feel better,” and your mind says, “I don’t want to.” This is when you’re having a craving, and it’s an itch you really, really want to scratch….. This is when you’re staring at the fridge and you feel like you’ll die without the brownie or the treat…..
Discomfort in an inherent part of growth because we’re forcing ourselves to change. We’re changing our patterns, our habits, our ways of being. We’re choosing to do the opposite of what we typically do, and every cell in our being wants to take the easy way out and chuck this path of newness, reverting back to what’s familiar and comfortable. Change can feel all inside out and “wrong” – even when we’re making positive changes.
How can we care for ourselves when the path is feeling uncomfortable?
One of my favorite ways of doing this is to practice self compassion – in particular, to use compassionate self talk to self soothe my pain. I have a very, very active nervous system, and my fight or flight brain likes to think that discomfort means there’s something wrong. (It likes to say to me – in so many words (or feelings) – The sky is falling! The sky is falling!) That’s okay – it’s just trying to protect me. It’s just trying to keep me from being hurt; it just wants to stop the hurt.
Fortunately, when our fight or flight brain tells us that the sky is falling, we don’t have to stay in that place of panic. We can shift out of the fight or flight brain by reminding ourselves that we’re okay. It’s a form of self soothing. I do this by telling myself this phrase when I’m feeling uncomfortable: “Just because this feels uncomfortable doesn’t mean it’s wrong.” (I started using that phrase when our family moved across the country and pretty much every day was excruciatingly uncomfortable…)
Whew. That feels so much better. I don’t have to make my discomfort – or even my pain – wrong. When I don’t make the discomfort wrong, it’s doable. I remember that it passes and that it won’t always feel this way. It feels workable, and in that workability I find freedom – the freedom to respond to discomfort kindly, with love.
Discomfort is a part of life. It’s definitely a part of habit change, as your heart and mind is stretched through the growth process. I suppose it’s our own form of birth pains, our own personal birth canal.
And yet I find it so beautiful – so powerful – that we can choose to respond to this discomfort with compassion, with nonviolence, with a full heart. We can choose to say to our discomfort, “Rest in me. Let me care for you.”