How to stop running from the discomfort

Maybe you’ve experienced this before: you set out with good intentions – being kind to your mom, having patience with your child, being kind and accepting of people in your life, committed to meditation every day, enjoying the mundane like washing the dishes or mowing the lawn, but something happens. 

Instead, you find yourself saying something reactive and mean to someone you care about, judging your neighbor for not picking up their dogs poop in your yard, yelling at your kid, skipping meditation for the 5th day in a row, or getting totally irritated with having to sweep the floor again for the millionth time.

Then follows a discomfort – a push and pull between the heart and the mind/ego. The heart knows your intentions, your mind/ego is doing it’s best, but it didn’t go as planned. 

The discomfort could be a knot in the stomach, a tightness in the chest, or just a general un-ease.

Pema Chodren, in her book, When Things Fall Apart, calls this The Squeeze. The squeeze between intention and reality. The discomfort that feels completely groundless and unpredictable.

It’s our nature to want to run away from this discomfort, so we typically blame ourselves or someone else in the moment of discomfort to take the edge off.

Then there might be an escape like eating sugar. drinking a beer, gossiping, venting, guilt, or exercise.

There’s no right or wrong in these situations, but an opportunity to wake up. Wake up to old patterns, wake up and create new patterns, or wake up compassion for ourself.

As Byron Katie says, “Every uncomfortable feeling, every pain, every moment of stress & suffering is for your own self-realization.”

It seems like it would be so much easier if that wasn’t true! But, our wisdom knows this truth.

How do we navigate the daily dilemma of being in The Squeeze?

How do we apply meditation practice at times when our partner leaves us, when our child has a tantrum in the library, or we’re hurt by a friend?

How do we reconcile the intention of being accepting of life while feeling frustrated with it at the same time?

And how do we face the reality of our own anger, bitterness, resentment or hatred toward ourselves or others when we long to have compassion and kindness?

All of these situations teach us that we’re not in control – we’re not in control of what emotion comes up in the moment, we’re not in control of our next thought, and we’re not in control of others.

The path is to sit or stand or be in the moments of The Squeeze, when it feels like the ground is shaking underneath, when we want to have control and run away from the discomfort, just be there – right there with it. No running, no blaming, no escaping. Just be.

When we do, we realize that life doesn’t end (as the mind/ego believes it will), that the moment will pass. 

In these moments treat yourself with great compassion. Compassion for the human experience – the full range of emotions – the ones wanted and the ones unwanted. Cry, sit, lie on the floor, scream – be with it.

Even if it means doing it 2 hours, 2 days or 2 weeks after the situation happened.

This being human isn’t always easy. In fact, sometimes it’s really difficult.

Their are daily moments in life teaching us to wake up through these moments. It’s courageous to sit in The Squeeze and just feel, just be with the discomfort. From doing so, comes compassion.

Teachers before us have gone through the same human experience. They have taught us to not give up on ourselves, and not to run away when it feels like the bottom falls out from our beliefs and noble ideals.

May we all be brave to sit in the discomfort so our hearts open with great compassion for ourselves and others.


Categories: Conflict & Forgiveness, Heart Centered Living, Inner Wisdom & Intuition

About the Author: Angela Patnode

My passion, my calling, is for you to be totally you. Through private coaching, in-depth retreats, and online group coaching programs, I help you tap into your intuition and clarify your desires and vision, I guide you to take active steps toward making your desires a reality.

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