“I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and
white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love,
belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few.”
There are a few things that I am certain of: we are born alone, we
die alone, and I could eat rice pudding until I explode. Other than
that, it’s all a crap shoot. The remarkable breadth of possibility in
the world is met by an equally broad range of uncertainty. In order
to embrace a life filled with expansion and growth, we must also
be able to sit with uncertainty and the discomfort of vulnerability
it brings with it.
Here are three ways to increase your tolerance for discomfort:
1. PLAY WITH YOUR EDGES
I had a boyfriend once who insisted, one night, that we sleep upside down in our bed—with our feet at the top, heads at the bottom. His point was that we would never forget that night. Many
years and lovers later, I can confirm that he was right. But something else happened that night. We woke up.
By definition, habits are unconscious thoughts and actions.
When we begin to dismantle habitual patterns, we awaken to our
experiences with a heightened state of awareness. We usually embody this wakefulness across the board, bringing new perspective
to many areas of our lives—a state of enlightenment.
Rather than wait to be passively woken up out of sleepy habits by
an accident, trauma, or other existential bump in the road, start
stretching the edges of your comfort zone when life is calm and
peaceful. Intentionally creating insignificant changes will help to
develop the muscles you need to hold discomfort when life unexpectedly takes you on a roller coaster.
- Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand.
- Forgo one of your go-to comfort foods for a month.
- Drive a different route home from work for a week.
- Read before bed instead of watching tv.
Those of us who are parents know how important it is to teach
our infants to self-soothe. It is an area in which many of us are still
underdeveloped, even as adults. When we are emotionally uncomfortable, it is easy to act out in ways that ultimately will contribute
to an increased state of discomfort and distress.
- Choose a cup of hot tea, instead of a pint of ice cream.
- Take a warm candlelit bath instead of opening a bottle
- Read a book to escape perseverating over a situation, instead
of calling a friend to vent about it into the night.
3. DELAY ACTION
As a culture, we are conditioned to focus on Doing, and not so
much on Being. When faced with challenging circumstances, we
usually will find ourselves saying, “I don’t know what to do about
this.” Very often, the doing is something that could—or even
should—come later. A better statement of inquiry would be, “I
don’t know how to be with this.” By resisting the urge to take
action, we afford ourselves the room to sit with our thoughts and
feelings. Give yourself permission to have your thoughts and feel-
ings, but at the same time, realize that your thoughts and feelings
do not define you. One of my favorite Pema Chödrön quotes is,
“You are the sky. Everything else—it’s just the weather.”
- Name your pain. Unpack it, spread it on the table, inventory
it, and write it down.
- Sit with it and get to know it.
- Draw distinctions between what you think and what you feel.
- Breathe into the part of yourself that transcends
Zoë Kors is the Managing Editor of LA Yoga Magazine, a certified life coach, writer, mother,
yogini, existential detective and vortex surfer. She offers Spiritual Core Empowerment programs for women, in which she draws on the principles of Eastern philosophy and the healing
practices of yoga, breathwork, and meditation and blends them with more process-oriented
modalities of Western psychotherapy and Co-Active Coaching to create sustainable transformation. To find more, visit: zoekors.com
PRACTICES [Spiritual Core Empowerment]
3 Ways to
BY ZOë KORS