Day 19 of 30: leaning into discomfort vs. trusting your gut

I am a pretty literal person. I take things at face value when I can, and often without many hues of color. It’s why I love to write. I can control what I’m trying to convey when I have the ability to type it all out, see it in front of me, read and reread and make adjustments.

I like control. At least, the illusion of it.

Verbal communication is more challenging for me because there are subtleties abound.

On my recovery journey, I’ve often taken perfectly sound guidance and sprinted to an extreme due to my literal interpretation.

My friends and I call it “Of Mice and Men-ing it” when we take a thing and try TOO hard and love it TOO much. Like Lenny. (It’s been a decade since I’ve read that book; forgive any botching of the story.)

In the self-help and healing world, there’s a lot about leaning into discomfort and doing the thing you’re scared to do.

When I first learned about this, I took it quite literally. And I took it to an extreme. Anything I was afraid of or that felt uncomfortable, I did anyway. I thought it would yield growth.

I see now, in hindsight, that my actively seeking out things I felt resistant about and forcing myself to do them anyway led me further away from myself. It lessened my self-trust. It distanced me from the subtle brilliance of my body’s language, of gut feelings, of goosebumps, of intuitive pulls.

I originally thought that doing what I was afraid to do was some sort of shortcut. It’d help me bypass all this self-trust crap and instead dive into the real growth. That somehow I was SO out of touch with myself that the things I desperately felt resistance toward must be the things I most needed to do.

Ultimately, after repeatedly forcing myself to do what I didn’t want to do… I collapsed. I was a raw exposed nerve. I was exhausted and depleted and miserable. I was lost.

I decided to set that old belief aside (about needing to do all the scary things) so I could rest and recharge a bit.

I began to listen to my gut feelings… To honor the messages from my body. If my headache tells me to stop in the middle of a movie, I stop. If someone invites me to a thing that logically sounds like a good idea but my tummy tells me “no,” I say no.

This has been building a trust within myself that has relaxed my central nervous system and transformed me as a person.

AND I THINK I’M UNDERSTANDING THE SUBTLETIES AND APPLICATION OF THE ORIGINAL QUOTE ABOUT LEANING INTO DISCOMFORT, FOLKS.

It’s not something I have to actively seek out. By living life one step at a time, one intuitive decision at a time, one gut feeling at a time… Discomfort will naturally arise.

I may feel warm and fuzzy about a book submission and then, halfway into it, start to experience fear. That’s the fear to push through, to lean into. I can look back at how SURE I was about this submission when I was in a grounded place, and I can choose to trust how I felt back then… Choose to continue on the path that past me’s gut chose.

(I can also be gentle with myself here. I can take a breather to ground and recharge and realign with my gut. That’s good too. I can choose to wait it out until some warm fuzzies return.)

Sometimes in my current relationship, an old story will pop up out of nowhere. That’s the discomfort to lean into. I can feel and express what I’m experiencing. I can do the vulnerable thing and share and be real. And then, just as it came, the discomfort passes. And I feel my heart open further.

By making the effort to tune into my body’s signals and then LISTENING to and HONORING those signals, there’s a trust built in my relationship with myself. I can now trust the decisions I’ve made during clarity and choose to continue on that path even when my lenses get dirty.

Is there something you know in your gut you should or shouldn’t do? What would happen if you listened to that, no matter how scary?

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Some days, I paint. Other days, I write. And rap. And tell stories. And do comedy. And doodle. And [attempt to] bake. And, one week out of every month, I merge with my sofa and sob about mortality and things like the existence of air and how we can't live without it and how utterly claustrophobic that is to consider. I'm relatively particular. And this is a place for me to share ALL the quirks.

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