lou bevacqui

Finding Purpose in Discomfort: It’s All Training


The bus is full, the air thin, and my head is pounding.  This is the bus mind you.  

Now?  Now it’s the flight.  The seven hour flight.  Baby crying, less seat room, coughing to the right, over sharing conversation to the left, no air, complaining, whining (not just my mental blathering, but literally passengers by me), and no movement.  That’s a thing for me.  None.  Well… except for “going to the hole, Boss!” (Cool Hand Luke prison movie reference).

I’m bone-travel-tired, the kind of fatigue you get from NOT doing anything.  The mental fatigue is from judging myself for my discomfort, physical and mental, and letting myself get affected by it. 

But what if I could see it as training?

You might be thinking to yourself, “What kind of masochistic training do you speak of, Lou?”  

The Buddists call it shenpa: the ‘not-so- subtle’ energy that arises in us when our uncomfortable emotions are triggered.  It is the emotional combustion that sets off our anger, our irritation, our discursive thinking. This becomes a catch 22 between the shenpa and our unhelpful feelings until we either become slaves to our passions and lash out, or shove them down inside of us only to have them come out at a later time.

But what can be done? Seriously, how can you use these everyday, simple annoyances to build your tolerance for emotional discomfort, so you can have choice over their effects on you in the truly difficult and serious moments in your life?

See your discomfort as training – look, chances are at some point in your life you lifted a weight, trained for a 5k, a swim meet, something physical right?  The more you did those hard things the more your tolerance increased for the physical and mental pains you’d endure.  When you see your everyday discomfort as training, you are training for your life.  Training to keep your emotional seat when uncomfortable, training to remain centered and open to your experiences instead of being closed off and armoring up.  Ok, now once you’ve  settled into this mindset…

Allow yourself to fully experience your feelings – Sorry.  The above paragraph isn’t instructions on how to avoid what’s going on inside of you or how you feel about it so you can dodge the ol’ discomfort bullet again (that would be respression 😊).   This is where the courage comes in, where you get your emotional hands dirty, and actually feel and label what it is that your feeling.  Why do this?  Simple – the minute you know what’s going on inside you, you go from allowing that Anger or Fear to own you, to you owning that you are “experiencing” the emotion.  Nothing more.  You have choice now whether you want to fan the flames of that emotion if it’s serving you, OR… 

Make choices to feel differently – You may not be able to get off the bus, leave the party, take the night off from being a parent, or jump off the plane (let’s hope it’s tighter security than that), but you can choose how you think about it (thinking is an action, again… back to seeing this all as training).  What would make you feel differently at this moment? What external or internal actions can you take now—right now—that will leave you in control of your emotions, your thoughts, your actions, and your life?  The choice is always ours.

I’d like to tell you that, after writing this, I became the master of my emotions and saw the seven hour plane ride as a prime training opportunity. The truth is, the screen in my seat was broken, so I couldn’t numb by watching a movie. The baby’s cries got louder, and my ability to tolerate the discomfort of the plane seat grew worse by the minute! But I know this, it was good training, and it will continue to be good training on the plane ride back, and each day during my vacation and even when I return home. My ability to go through the steps I described above will go more smoothly and will be more successful each time, so that I will have choice!

If you would like to learn tools and skills to help you improve your emotional aptitude, reduce your emotional isolation, lessen your avoidance of shame, fear, and anxiety, and enable yourself to reach your goals, break old habits, or create new ones, I can help. I provide emotional resilience coaching, so you can achieve your goals.  We can meet either virtually or in person at my office in Waterbury, Vermont.  Just click the button or the link below for a free consultation and let’s talk. 

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