Boozy to Butterfly

Getting Comfortable with Discomfort

May 18, 2021 Episode 10
Boozy to Butterfly
Getting Comfortable with Discomfort
Boozy to Butterfly
Getting Comfortable with Discomfort
May 18, 2021 Episode 10

What does it mean to get comfortable with discomfort? And why is this the key to growth and change including to stop overdrinking? Well, this week Emily does a deep dive on building this skill that can boost your progress and growth. She shares what it means to get  comfortable with discomfort, why it's the key to success in all things, and some practical tools to help build this muscle.

Looking for more support on your stop overdrinking journey? Head over to to sign up for my free 10-day training course. 

If you're ready for private coaching, email me at [email protected]

Show Notes Transcript

What does it mean to get comfortable with discomfort? And why is this the key to growth and change including to stop overdrinking? Well, this week Emily does a deep dive on building this skill that can boost your progress and growth. She shares what it means to get  comfortable with discomfort, why it's the key to success in all things, and some practical tools to help build this muscle.

Looking for more support on your stop overdrinking journey? Head over to to sign up for my free 10-day training course. 

If you're ready for private coaching, email me at [email protected]

Episode 10: Getting Comfortable with Discomfort

Well, hello everyone and welcome to episode 10. In this week’s episode I’m going to share a skill you can learn. If you’ve listened to some of my previous episodes, you’ll recall I frequently talk about learning innate skills, meaning ways to cope and deal with life without the crutch of alcohol. So, the first skill I’m going to deep dive on is getting comfortable with discomfort. Already sounds confusing, right? 

You might be thinking, Emily they’re opposite meanings so how is this possible to be comfortable when you’re uncomfortable? So, I’m first going to talk about what this means and then I’ll share why this is a key to not only stop overdrinking but to life. And then I’ll talk about some practical tools to build this skill.

Alright, so let’s start with what does it mean to get comfortable with discomfort. What does discomfort feel like to you? What is it exactly? It’s a feeling but it’s kind of a general feeling, right? You feel uneasy or uncertain. You might feel an internal conflict with your cave woman brain (aka lizard brain) telling you one thing, and your CEO brain telling you another. It might be a feeling of dread that you’re about to face a circumstance you really don’t want to face. It might also be frustration as your attempts to make progress or change are not as successful as you would like.

Well, discomfort is simply feeling one way when that little voice in your head wants to be feeling a different way. It’s when you try to quit drinking or take a break and the urge to drink arises and you don’t want to have an urge to drink. You’d like to quit drinking and never have an urge to drink. It’s uncomfortable not answering that call to drink.

Discomfort is when you are exercising and your lazy brain tells you you’ve done enough…it’s okay to stop now but your fit brain wants to keep going because you set a goal to reach and if you keep going, it gets you closer to that goal.

Discomfort is when you have to give a presentation or speak in front of others and all the doubts start running through your mind that you’re going to crash and burn.

Change is discomfort. Growth is discomfort. Progress is discomfort. Why? Because your cave woman brain likes the status quo. She wants things to remain the same, even if they’re stifling. She fears death even when there are no life-threatening circumstances. So when you approach the boundary of change, unconscious thoughts will start to become conscious. Unintentional thoughts will balloon and fill your mind like warning signs and brake signals. 

So the skill isn’t learning to never feel uncomfortable, the skill is awareness that discomfort is present but not letting it stop you from pushing past it. The skill is to recognize the thoughts telling you to quit or give in but to not take direction from them. The skill is to feel the fear or anxiety but take action anyway. And the more often you do this, the easier it gets. Why? Because you’re teaching your brain the difference between real fear and social fear. Real fear and worry. Real fear and progress. You’re teaching your brain that it’s wrong when it cues up a drink urge. It’s wrong when it tells you you’re going to die if you run another mile. It’s wrong when it tells you your life will end if you offer your opinion in that meeting. 

Getting comfortable with discomfort is simply a matter of not letting the discomfort be your beacon. Not letting discomfort make the decisions and put the brakes on change or your goal. Pushing past the internal warnings, bells, and whistles and allowing the feelings of discomfort to become recognizable and familiar. And as you become more familiar with feeling them yet not letting them stop you, they don’t feel as scary. You don’t feel so powerless. And that’s the key. You gain self-confidence and you learn to trust that you will follow through with what you say you’re going to do.

And this is my second point, how getting comfortable with discomfort is the key to stop overdrinking and to progress in life, generally speaking. Often you’re stifled by your own thoughts. You didn’t succeed because a thought stopped you. You didn’t take a chance because of a thought. You didn’t ask for that raise because of a thought. You didn’t stop overdrinking because of a thought. 

Once you identify with a thought, it comes with baggage. Those thoughts are tethered to feelings and emotions. You really have thousands and thousands of thoughts every day but once you pluck one out of your mind and identify with it, it creates a feeling. This is why you feel anxiety…you feel worry…you feel fear. It’s energy passing through your body from your anxious, worrisome, fearful thoughts. And when you feel this energy, it feels real. It feels believable. So you confuse it with your CEO brain, you confuse it with your intuition, you confuse it with your instincts and allow the cave woman worry to drive the bus. You allow the status quo to remain unchanged. You accept that this thing you’re striving for is not a good decision because of a thought and a feeling.

You feel a drink urge and accept that this means there’s something wrong with you when you try to take a break from drinking. You feel powerless to this drink urge because you don’t understand where it’s coming from and it’s strong. You think the drink urge is never going to go away.

Or you get in an argument with a loved one and rather than feeling angry or sad, you drink to wash it away. You’re stressed at work and you want to wipe it away when you come home. Your kids don’t appreciate everything you do for them so you want to calm your nerves so you don’t say something you’ll regret…which you might end up doing anyway once you get enough liquor in you.

Negative emotions are uncomfortable. By learning to accept them and let them flow through you and rise and fall like the tide, you can learn to cope without alcohol.

When you learn to accept that at mile 3 on your run, your cave woman brain is going to want to stop but you’re going to push past it, soon you’ll be running 4 miles with ease.

When you learn to accept that you will have butterflies in your stomach before a presentation or asking for that raise, you can turn those butterflies into positive energy rather than negative energy and let it propel you forward.

When you feel defeated and your brain is telling you to stop trying, you can learn to get up, dust yourself off, and try again. You can learn to take defeat as a redirection. Failure is just feedback. You took action and you’re getting a response…it might be a slap in the face but now you know to tweak your approach next time.

Getting comfortable with discomfort allows you to fall and get back up stronger. It allows you to get knocked down and come back up fighting. It teaches your cave woman brain that she does not get to drive the bus. She does not get to stop your CEO brain from accomplishing goals, large or small. And this learning process is the feeling of discomfort.

Imagine how much money you could be leaving on the table if you never ask for a raise because of fear. Or what if you could start a lucrative business but confusion, which pretends to be useful, is stopping you? Get unconfused. What if all it takes to stop overdrinking is to master these drink urges and then you’re set free? What if all it takes to lose those 10 pounds is to master emotional eating?

These are all things you can master. It’s all within your reach. You can learn to do hard things. And it starts with allowing yourself the space to feel discomfort but not allowing yourself to use it as an excuse. Don’t let it stop you.

So how do we build this muscle? How do we build this skill? Well getting comfortable with discomfort actually has two layers: the thought and the feeling. As I stated before, your brain generates unintentional thoughts all day long. And when you identify with one, you accept it into your consciousness, you believe it and then you feel it in your body. 

So we can learn to dismiss the thought or make our counterargument thereby dismissing it or we can learn to feel the feeling but take action anyway.

So let’s start with ways to dismiss the thought. And I want to differentiate this with ignoring the thought. Ignoring it does not make it go fact, it makes it louder. Saying, it’s not there, it’s not there, it’s not there, does not work. What does work is saying, “I see you, but we’re not doing that today.” So dismissing obstacle thoughts is recognizing that they’re present but it’s your fortitude and strength today that’s not going to listen to that garbage.

And shifting to a state of inquiry can help combat these unwanted thoughts. Asking yourself “is this really true?” Byron Katie has some great thought work on how to challenge your thinking, in fact it’s called The Work. But questioning your thoughts and beliefs is so valuable. 

It allows you to see your conditioned mind. It lets you peak behind the curtain at what’s causing your fear-based, limited thinking. A thought like “I can’t do this” is not true. You can do this. And when you do, take the proof that you pushed passed that breaking point and you can do it again. It might have been hard, but you did it therefore you can do it again. And this is what leads to increasing self-confidence…when you reflect on wins, not just losses and show your brain the proof of all the things you’ve accomplished that you once thought you couldn’t.

The brain likes to focus on the falls, the spills, and the knockouts so you have to consciously focus on the wins. You have to bring the grit and determination to counteract the programmed workings of the mind. And, in the beginning it’s a little clunky, it’s very conscious. You have to redirect your brain consciously and repeatedly as you build this muscle. 

For each negative thought try and balance it with a positive thought. Try and keep the scale at a net zero in the beginning and eventually the scale will be tipped more toward the positive but it takes time. 

One daily practice you can start is a daily challenge. Every day start noticing your cave woman or fear-based brain stopping you. Notice how often you’re getting talked out of something internally. Each day find something your cave woman brain is trying to put the brakes on but do it anyway. Challenge yourself to create a tiny win every day and build that awareness around how often your mind puts the brakes on your everyday life.

When I started this practice, I noticed it frequently with communicating with strangers like in the store or something. I noticed there were times when I wanted to say something to someone but my cave woman brain stopped me or I wanted to offer my cart to someone and stopped. So I started with these little interactions and pushed past the dictator in my head. It really can start with something this small. Say hi to your neighbor when they’re outside or offer your idea in that meeting or tell someone No. 

That’s a big one. Telling people no. It’s not a bad word and it is a complete sentence. Or maybe it’s saying yes. Saying yes to something you would normally say no to. So if you feel like your overextending yourself, say no. If you feel like you would normally say no out of fear, say yes.

So, the first way to build the skill of working through discomfort is by challenging and dismissing your thoughts. The second way is by accepting feelings as just energy in the body. So at this point, the thought was able to get passed your first offense and now you’re feeling it in your body. The fear feels real, the anxiety feels real, the worry feels real, the drink urge feels real. Now what? 

You let yourself feel it. In fact, revel in it. Imagine a wave building and approaching the shore, dive in. Breathe through it. It will go away. I notice this most often on the Peloton. During the pandemic, I invested in a Peloton and it has been the best investment. For those of you who don’t know, it’s basically a stationary interactive bike with a computer screen and classes you can take. It’s like spin class at home. I love it but it was hard at first. 

I’m an avid outdoor cyclist and going indoors on a stationary bike was a surprising challenge. I notice when I’m doing intervals on the Peloton, my brain wants to slow down or stop before the interval ends and I can feel a rush of emotions pleading to stop so I close my eyes, inhale, and breath the emotions in. It’s uncomfortable. It’s borderline awful but I get through it and when I’m done with the ride, it feels that much sweeter. 

Think of your drink urges in this way. There is an endgame here just because you think you can’t see it. Know that each time you have a drink urge and breath it in and don’t respond with a drink, you’re retraining your brain. You get to see when you work out you build a muscle…muscle that you can see. Or when you do cardio and lose weight, weight that can be measured on a scale, so you get that reward or satisfaction as motivation to keep going.

But when you try to stop overdrinking, you don’t have the gratification other than a successful night of not drinking or not drinking too much. You don’t really have anything tangible to look at or see to know the struggle is worth it. So you have to find a way to consciously remind yourself of the wins. Some people like to put money in a jar or little colored stones in a jar for each successful drink urge they overcome…this way you can physically see your progress. And after a while you’ll see your skin look better and your eyes brighten, too but some method of tracking these small wins can be beneficial as you measure your progress.

And one of the best ways to push through discomfort is as simple as an affirmation or two or three. Affirmations are literally just chosen, intentional phrases to say to yourself when the going gets tough. It’s a way to put positivity, motivation, and momentum consciously into your brain. When those limiting thoughts start swirling or when your body feels like giving up, start repeating an affirmation like, “you can do hard things” or “this is when the change is happening.”

The best way to find an affirmation that works for you is by finding out what it is that you need. When I mentally want to give up on a tough cycling class, I sometimes will notice my legs aren’t tired. So I will repeat “you’re legs are strong” over and over and then the power of my legs propels me to actually pick up the pace when I wanted to quit. The energy was there all along. 

“You can do this” is simple but effective especially in situations like asking for a promotion or applying for an advanced position. “You’re not going to die” is always one you can fallback on as a reminder to your cave woman brain that her fear is irrational and we’re not being stalked by a tiger.

Affirmations simply help you overcome self-sabotaging negative thoughts and emotions. Those negative thoughts and feelings will become self-fulfilling actions but if you balance the scale with intentional affirmations, you will find your success rate significantly improves.

Some other favorites of my students include, “I will figure this out,” “I am the earth and this storm will pass,” “tomorrow will be better,” “this will not define me nor defeat me,” and “this is happening for me.”

So experiment with a few and find the right affirmation for each obstacle you encounter on your journey to not just stop overdrinking but any obstacle getting in between you and your dreams. You literally can accomplish anything you put your mind to. I know this is cliché but it’s true. Anything you put your mind to…it doesn’t say it’s easy and it doesn’t say it’s not going to perhaps be a bumpy ride, but you can achieve any goal. Just remember the feeling of change is discomfort. And every goal and achievement requires change. So learn to get comfortable with discomfort.