The Dance of Discomfort
Last week we started a series on vulnerability. You can read Part 1 on the blog.
We Need to Be Able to Tolerate Discomfort
This one is tricky. Even when you’ve done the internal work, even when you intellectually know that no harm can come to you from opening up and sharing, there is a certain amount of discomfort associated with bearing your heart to another.
It’s not easy to show our “weaknesses,” and it can feel scary to ask for what we really want.
“Hey Honey, it seems to me like you’re distant, and maybe you’re needing space, but I was hoping to connect”
I notice a tightening in my belly paired with a contraction in my chest when I’m about to share in this way. I notice how difficult it is for me to get the words out, or to choose the words I want to get out. It’s like I’m back to being a fumbly middle schooler. Sometimes my eyes swell with tears, other times I just feel like I want to wiggle around. But it never feels “good” - it’s always an emotional stretch.
Learning to be okay with this discomfort is essential to becoming more open and vulnerable.
There are a number of different strategies, and often it’s good to practice in a safe space. For instance, I once received a “homework assignment” from a mentor to go home and evoke as much fear inside of me as possible and to just sit with the fear, to get comfortable with it, to learn how to be troubled without feeling terrified. It was a strange yet liberating experience, a realization that I didn’t have to react to my emotions or let them take the reins. I could manage to stay in control while in inner turmoil.
Having techniques to help feel grounded amidst emotional discomfort is important. Often simple things that help us stay aware of our surroundings and our bodies can be helpful. Bringing awareness to the sensations of the clothing on our body, or to background sounds, or the way the light hits the wall, can be calming for our nervous system. It's a way of orienting to the physical space that helps us feels safe (it goes back to our days living in the savannah or jungles).
Learning to be in the discomfort makes vulnerability more possible. And if and when you need a break, you can always dance...