“The reality, however, is that in order to make progress in life, we have to embrace discomfort.” ― Sunday Adelaja
Lately I’ve been working on “leaning into discomfort.” Learning to face my fears rather than to back away and flee. When I’m able to face fears, there is something powerful that happens: not only does it show me (and my ever-working brain), that I can face certain situations and still come out okay on the other side, it also gives me a great sense of accomplishment.
Two big fears I have been working on facing the past few years are public speaking, and fear of heights. Repelling down the face of a beautiful mountain was one of the most terrifying, and exhilarating moments of my year. There is something really empowering about being able to control yourself as you glide down a slope. The thing about repelling is that you have to trust in your own strength, trust the equipment, and trust your ability to consciously maneuver yourself down. You get to decide the pace. If you let fear take control and you stop moving, you’ll only be stuck hovering in space. You have to embrace the fear, thank it, and then look out around you. Take in all the beauty from a new angle, and then continue moving down. Embrace the fear, but also embrace the thrill of the moment.
I have found a very similar process to be true in getting myself upside-down in headstand or handstand. It is scary to lift both feet off the ground, but then if you are able to trust in your own strength and ability, you reach this beautiful moment of hovering, almost effortlessly, in space. You are one with the pose, and you get a rush of excitement as you view the world from a different perspective.
The thing about fear is that it typically takes away from the beauty of the moment. It can cause you to freeze up in headstand, so you don’t reach equilibrium with both feet in the air. It can prevent you from actually making your way down the mountain as your repel, and it can ruin your whole morning as your prepare to give a big talk or presentation. The reality is that getting myself worked up before facing something uncomfortable is what makes the event that much worse. I have found mantras to be really helpful to reframe my mindset before tackling something uncomfortable. The mantra changes based on the event, but it is always some form of reframing “I have to do this” to “I get to do this.”
The other great part about facing fears is that afterwards, you feel really accomplished. After using a positive mantra about the situation, I also think about how strong and powerful I will feel after the event. Once I’ve been able to face my fear of heights and climb to the top of a wall, or repel down a beautiful cliff, then I realize how great the experience was. Reframing the way you think about a situation is a way of constantly rewriting the story you are telling yourself so that slowly and maybe eventually, that fear will get smaller.
What fears are you planning to face this week?