Feeling uncomfortable may not be a pleasant experience, but it can be an opportunity to manifest positive change and personal development. Whatever caused the uncomfortable feeling may serve as a sign that something’s wrong. When you feel uncomfortable for no discernable reason, it’s unconscious—it may even manifest physically, for example, in the heart or the gut.
Negative emotions can reveal things of which you may be in denial, and with that revelation, you can empower yourself to maximize your potential. Not engaging with negative feelings is one thing, but ignoring them is quite another. So, let your watchword be “curiosity” rather than “fear.”
“Everything of which I have been afraid was based on nothing.”— A Course in Miracles
Accepting Negative Emotions
Negative emotions naturally impact our sense of well-being at the moment, and that’s only natural. But they also have a purpose: they alert us to the fact that something isn’t right.
Often, the thing that needs correction is thinking itself. However, it’s not easy to examine your own thinking. It’s a bit like tickling yourself—it just doesn’t work. Thoughts are wedded to our experiences, perceptions, beliefs, and prejudices to the extent that they are often irrational.
“Feeling arises from thinking.” —Michael Neill
So, rather than just wanting the feeling to go away, use it as a tool. You can disrupt the auto-responses in your thinking mind and think differently—think “outside of the box” of your conditioned perceptions and limiting beliefs. Ask yourself why you are feeling uncomfortable and examine the rationale behind that feeling. You will open pathways to different perceptions including the acceptance of not being certain.
Making a Friend of Not Knowing
Emotional discomfort is borne out of uncertainty which, in turn, arises from not knowing.
The human has historically strived for a state of “knowing,” from the ancient world to the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, secularization, and the Technical Revolution. Spirituality and wisdom have been supplanted by science and knowledge. “Knowing” has become synonymous with safety, and as animals – albeit highly intelligent ones – what makes us feel safe will always seem like a good option.
So, why, with all the facts and figures at your fingertips—just one click away—do you still experience unaccountable unease from time to time?
The answer is evolution. Despite the exponential development of the human way of life in the sense of form—especially over the last few centuries—you are still an animal. Although technological inventions have rendered redundant many of the physical skills of your forebears, your visceral feelings lurk just beneath the surface, ready to bubble up at any time.
As children, we were taught that not knowing is a bad thing. The word “ignorance” has become almost exclusively a pejorative term, whereas, in truth, it simply means “lack of knowledge or information.” Certainty blinds us from new ideas and perspectives. It limits potential both for ourselves and others. Most of all, it cramps our creativity.
To a young child, every day—every moment even—is an adventure, a chance for new experiences and discoveries. Compare the child’s experience to that of an adult who has made their mind up about everything and is sure that they are right. Boring, right?
Why Judgement Is Okay
You might feel uncomfortable in a situation where you are judging someone based on their clothes, their accent, their demeanor, their words, the car they drive, or maybe the house they live in. But that’s okay. You are designed to make instant judgments all the time because it’s another natural way of keeping yourself safe—it’s common sense, and you can’t help it.
However, there may be times when you feel a judgment come up and you question it:
- Why do I feel uncomfortable about that person?
- Who do they remind me of?
- What is it about them?
- What am I assuming?
The danger then is that you judge yourself for judging, but there’s no need for that. You have already disrupted the primeval reflex action thanks to your awareness, and so you can make an intelligent choice based on this. This is how feeling uncomfortable serves as a sign of improvement—an opportunity to grow.
Some people feel uncomfortable around others who have learning difficulties or physical challenges, but where does the feeling come from? Is it fear of the unknown perhaps? Or fear of the possibility of being disabled oneself? Or maybe just the unpredictability of someone who is “different”?
Imagine that you’re in a supermarket and a mother is scolding one of her three children. First, she shouts, then she swears. Eventually, at the end of her tether, she slaps the child. How does the child feel? How does the mother feel? What could she be feeling to behave like that? Most importantly, how do you feel, and why?
How Discernment Promotes “Response-ability,” Not Reactivity
The ability to respond rather than to react is synonymous with consciousness. Blanket acceptance of and reaction to primeval responses consigns Renaissance Man to the dark ages. The trick is to have the awareness to choose which feelings serve you and which do not.
For example, there exists within humans a tendency to trust those who live nearer to them than those from other regions or countries—not just neighbors that they know by contact or sight but also people who look like them, sound like them, and act like them.
This knee-jerk reaction is based on fact since before the security of the “rule of law”—which we take for granted these days—misdemeanors were indeed more often perpetrated by strangers rather than locals. Without discernment, a tendency to distrust can all too easily develop into xenophobia or outright racism.
By analyzing your feelings, you can rationally choose how to respond to situations rather than simply react to them.
Feeling uncomfortable can often be the precursor of a breakthrough. For most humans, the preferred default position is control. Control—or rather the illusion, thereof—is the plaster we stick on fear because we don’t like this feeling.
There are several potential triggers to feeling uncomfortable.
- lack of authenticity
- a conflict of values
- lack of self-worth
- lack of fulfillment
- lack of purpose
- lack of control in one’s life
- sacrifice – playing a role
Lack of congruency between our values and our actions will always show up somewhere, whether it be conscious or unconscious, and one way is through a feeling of discomfort.
Self-Improvement—Where Am I Versus Where I Want to Be
Many people start their journey of self-improvement by expressing an aspiration for things to be better—a better job, a better social life, and better relationships. However, somewhere along the way, they realize that at their core is their desire to” be” better.
When you look in the mirror—literally or metaphorically—what do you see?
If you want to be the best version of yourself, then you have to be your real self—your authentic self. Your real self is not necessarily the version you have created, which may include many negative aspects. Your real self is your inner being, your higher mind, the version that came into this world innocent—and who still is.
So, the next time you are feeling uncomfortable, try moving towards that negative feeling rather than running away from it. Examine it, be curious about it, and in doing so, you will disempower it, thereby empowering yourself.
Next, identify the thought that created the feeling. You and you alone get to choose with which thoughts you want to engage and which to recycle. By recognizing the discomfort as a sign to improve yourself, you grasp the opportunity to be the best version of yourself—to “be” better.
More About Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Featured photo credit: Mael BALLAND via unsplash.com
|||^||Psychology Today: Living in Uncertainty…When Not Knowing Is the Only Answer|
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