Embracing Discomfort: The Art of Learning to Sit With Distress

In a world that often seems to prioritise comfort and immediate gratification, the concept of sitting with distress might sound counterintuitive. We’re wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain, making discomfort something we instinctively try to avoid. However, there’s great wisdom in the ability to confront and tolerate distress rather than constantly seeking to escape it.

Learning to sit with distress is a skill that can greatly enhance our emotional resilience and overall well-being. It involves facing difficult emotions and situations without immediately trying to change or escape them. Instead of reacting impulsively or seeking distractions, we allow ourselves to fully experience the discomfort, observing it with curiosity and compassion.

At first, sitting with distress can be challenging. Our instinct may be to suppress or ignore uncomfortable feelings, but doing so only prolongs our suffering. By acknowledging and accepting our emotions, we create space for growth and healing. It’s a process of befriending our discomfort rather than fighting against it.

One powerful technique for sitting with distress is mindfulness. Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. When we practice mindfulness, we cultivate awareness of our thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations, allowing us to observe them with detachment. This awareness enables us to respond to distress with greater clarity and compassion, rather than reacting impulsively out of fear or discomfort.

Another important aspect of sitting with distress is self-compassion. It’s easy to be hard on ourselves when we’re experiencing difficult emotions, but self-compassion encourages us to treat ourselves with kindness and understanding. Instead of criticising ourselves for feeling a certain way, we offer ourselves the same empathy and support we would give to a friend in need.

Ultimately, learning to sit with distress is about embracing the full range of human experience. Life is not always comfortable or easy, but by facing our discomfort head-on, we become stronger and more resilient individuals. We learn that we are capable of weathering even the most challenging storms, and that our capacity for growth and transformation knows no bounds.

So the next time you find yourself faced with distress, try to resist the urge to escape or avoid it. Instead, take a deep breath, acknowledge your feelings, and remind yourself that discomfort is a natural part of the human experience. By embracing your distress with mindfulness and self-compassion, you’ll discover a newfound sense of strength and inner peace.

If you’d like to learn more about how to better sit with distress, reach out to Elysium Psychology on 0491 709 555 today to book in with one of our psychologists!