Getting Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

So this week I’ve had all my clients going around an assault / obstacle course outdoors when the weather permitted. It opened up an interesting train of thought…

People’s response to seeing the course varied from big smiles to horror but the response as they got moving was more interesting.

There was a lot of crawling involved and for some people their facial expression relayed their discomfort, others were verbal and still others quietly detached themselves from the group. A few did that and then looked for validation from other group members.

But it hurts

The verbal was interesting to start with as “My knees hurt”, “My knees don’t like it” were common phrases. The thought that perhaps hurt was not the correct word for skin and joints that have just been exposed to a whole new set of sensations that they hadn’t experienced perhaps since babyhood, crossed my mind.

Our willingness to let our thoughts go down the path of hurt and then use that as a barrier to carrying out that movement again was also interesting to explore.

People will often be very happy to tell me their abs were sore for days and their butt hurt after a session and that hurt is just fine, but put them in an unfamiliar movement pattern that is loading their bodies in a new and stimulating way and suddenly that hurt is not so acceptable.

Its a conundrum that I struggle with as a teacher. My personality finds it uncomfortable to put people in an uncomfortable situation but I also know that by putting myself through discomfort I’ve grown stronger mentally and physically and I want that for my clients.

Learning to be tough

Not giving in to the whining, for want of a better word, is a challenge. Learning how to get other people to be comfortable with a level of discomfort that will pass and will bring rewards is something I’m still working on.

I wonder why we are all in many different ways so happy to quickly erect barriers that stop us experiencing discomfort even though perhaps a tiny part of us knows the benefits would be worth it?

With movement I wonder if there is an element of fear attached, not wanting to look stupid if you can’t complete the course, feeling a failure if something isn’t easy to do, fear of just being asked to move in a way you know you should be able to do but actually can’t?

Finding your new comfort zone

What if you could find a way to cope with the uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable? For me a physically uncomfortable situation always causes me to hum softly, it’s almost a subconscious way of calming myself down and focusing on the task in hand.

Whenever I’ve used that strategy I’ve got through something and then been happy to do it again but whenever I’ve felt constrained by the group I’m with and kept quiet, I’ve sometimes been the one that quietly detaches.

My naturally introverted self prefers to tackle a hard task in private but learning that I can’t always do that and the moment of challenge is just that, a moment, that will pass and become yesterday has been one of the greatest gifts I’ve experienced.

So next time you’re uncomfortable, explore what strategy you can use to get you through it and make you comfortable with the uncomfortable.

You never know, your knees might just thank you for it as they grow stronger