286: Making Peace With Discomfort


Taking responsibility for your health and happiness is going to make you uncomfortable AND…

It is going to make other people uncomfortable.

How you rumble with discomfort is going to determine if you move your life to higher ground or not.

In this episode, I help you reframe your relationship with discomfort so you stop fearing it and start seeking it out.

Making Peace With Discomfort

Transcripts are auto-generated.

Courtney Townley 0:00
Welcome to the Grace and Grit Podcast made for women who want their healthiest years to be ahead of them, not behind them. Join your host Courtney Townley right now. As she breaks down the fairy tale health story, you have been chasing all of your life, indispensable action steps and lasting change.

Courtney Townley 0:27
Hello, my friends, and welcome to the Grace & Grit Podcast. This is your host, Courtney Townley. As always, I’m really grateful you’re here. And hey, if you’re a longtime listener, if you are someone who keeps coming back to this show time and time again, because you get value from it. I would just so immensely appreciate you taking the time to head on over to iTunes or whatever platform you listen to this Podcast from and rate and review the show ratings. I didn’t used to think were a big deal. But it’s actually a way that people find the Podcast people do read reviews. And as you can imagine, there are a lot of podcasts in this space of women’s health. And so if you like the show, if you keep coming back to the show, if you would like to see this show stay in production. I again would just immensely appreciate you taking the time to leave a quick review.

Courtney Townley 1:22
Now, last week, we talked about stepping into your power years, I talked about how I have coached a lot of women through the midlife transition. And when I say midlife transition, I mean a few different things. I mean, absolutely yes perimenopause, and menopause, because that’s a part of that transition. But there’s a lot of other things that boil to the surface around midlife, because we are contending with so much stress. And so few of the hormones that actually allow us to manage stress well. So there’s a lot about our life that starts to reveal itself in terms of needing some renovation. So in last week’s episode, I specifically talked about two different pathways, I really see women traveling at midlife, there’s the path of wasting power, and there’s the path of generating power. generating power is going to require that you extend yourself the grace, of slowing down and resting to restore your energy. It is going to require setting boundaries with yourself and with others, it is going to require that you lean in to doing things differently than you’ve done them in the past. And this is a really hard pill to swallow.

Courtney Townley 2:51
But generating and protecting power is going to require that you allow other people to be uncomfortable with your decisions. So all of this to say taking responsibility for your health and happiness is going to make you uncomfortable. And it’s also going to make other people uncomfortable. And how you rumble with discomfort is going to determine if you move your life to higher ground or not. So in this episode, I want to really talk about the bright side of discomfort, and how to start leaning into it with more grace and ease. Because I really do see this as such a massive barrier. In the work that I do with so many of my clients. It’s not that women don’t know what to do. It’s not that women aren’t clear on their calling or the direction they want to travel in. What is true is that they cut themselves short. Because discomfort shows up. And what they make that discomfort mean, and the stories they start to elaborate and create because of that discomfort is really what prevents them from going after the things they truly want.

Courtney Townley 4:25
You know humans like certainty, we like predictability, we like knowing how things are going to turn out. And change removes certainty. It makes things less predictable. Which is why it feels scary. When things change. It feels scary when we start to change when we start to do things differently. Again, not just for ourselves, but also for the people around us. Because we just don’t have Have any guarantee on how this is going to turn out. So today we’re going to talk about the discomfort that arises when you start deciding hard to change how you’re showing up in the world. The discomfort that shows up for you, and the discomfort that shows up for other people. If you want to infuse your life with more life, without sacrificing your health, traveling through discomfort is not an option. It’s a necessity. You can certainly infuse your life with more life temporarily, with things that do not require discomfort. But the things that promote happiness and well being over the long run, will absolutely cost you comfort.

Courtney Townley 6:05
What I mean by it is possible to infuse your life temporarily with things that don’t make you uncomfortable. This, I’m speaking directly to all the false pleasures that we can so easily buy into in any given moment, we can pick up our cell phone and start scrolling social media, we can put something in our mouth to make us feel better, we can drink alcohol to take the edge off the stress, we can online shop, there’s so many things that we can do to feel better now. But when we buy into those things, and we give over to those things, of course, the cost is ultimately that there is a steep price to pay on the front of health down the road.

Courtney Townley 6:55
So what happens when we consistently avoid discomfort? Well, you know, I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, you play small in your life. Because you don’t want to risk failure. You don’t want to risk looking silly or looking like a failure. You reach for those false pleasures that I just spoke to. And of course, this is the really funny part. We’re trying to avoid discomfort by playing small and reaching for false pleasures. But the consequences of those things, of course, is discomfort. So you’re literally creating the very thing you’re trying to avoid. But what happens when we lean in to discomfort, leaning in to delaying gratification, and showing up in new ways that feel awkward and uncertain, is that we learn and we grow and our life starts to expand and blossom. And the byproduct of that is oddly comfort. We start to feel more free, we start to feel more confident. There is comfort on the other side of leaning into hard things. So comfort zones are expanded by leaning in to discomfort.

Courtney Townley 8:29
Man, I wish it wasn’t that way. I really do because I don’t love discomfort either. But what I have figured out and I think you probably have too is that there will be discomfort. You are a human being living a very human life. There’s going to be discomfort. And you get to decide which kind of discomfort you experience. Do you want to experience the discomfort that comes from always gratifying your life in the moment always giving into urges always playing it safe and suffering the consequences of that? Or do you want to lean into the discomfort of the moment in order to be rewarded with freedom and confidence on the other side. So there will be discomfort but you get to decide what kind you want to play with.

Courtney Townley 9:50
A lot of you listening are probably thinking well, that’s great, Courtney. I’d like to do the latter. I’d like to do more of delaying the instant gratification and really be leaning into the work of the things that I want from my life. But how do I make peace with something that I have been avoiding or running from my entire life? Well, first, let’s just get clear on what it even means to make peace with discomfort, because that’s really what we’re talking about here is making peace with discomfort, befriending discomfort, no longer demonizing discomfort, and that looks like allowing it into your life in a very intentional way. And what I mean by that is you allow the discomfort that comes from leveling up, rather than the discomfort that comes from playing small. Get very intentional about that. And you stay very aware that life is 5050 a big part of life is feeling great, and happy and excited and wonderful. And there’s another big chunk of life. That is not that it’s feeling other things like discomfort.

Courtney Townley 11:27
You will never befriend discomfort if you don’t acknowledge the benefit of it. And most of us don’t have a practice of acknowledging the benefit, we have a practice of reminding ourselves all the ways in which discomfort sucks, and why we should avoid it at all costs. Making peace with discomfort also means taking responsibility for what you make it mean. Because what you make it mean, can cause a tremendous amount of unnecessary suffering. So let me give you some really clear practices that you can start engaging with in order to start improving your relationship with discomfort.

Courtney Townley 12:19
The first practice I recommend is to start looking for evidence for how discomfort has actually enhanced your life in the past. So how has discomfort infused your life with more life? Over the course of your life, what are some of the benefits that you have reaped by leaning in rather than running away? I’ll tell you, for me in my own personal life, I have moved a lot I have lived in. You know, I’ve lived in Canada, I’ve lived in the US within the US, I’ve probably lived in eight to 10 different states. Even within certain states, I’ve moved around a lot, I’ve taken a lot of different jobs. And there was a lot of discomfort to that, because I never knew how it was gonna turn out. But here I am, so many years later looking back, and seeing clearly how much resilience and competence and openness was generated from leaning in to that level of discomfort. I moved a brick and mortar business to an online business seven years ago, and I knew nothing about online business. In fact, I always joke that moving from a brick and mortar business into the online space can feel like moving to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. I didn’t know most of the terms that are used in online business.

Courtney Townley 14:13
When people talked about opt in pages and lead magnets and you know, the email list and all these things, I had no idea what any of that even meant. So much discomfort. And I learned and here I am seven years later, still having so much to learn. But also having proven to myself that with focus and with consistent effort. I can figure it out. Birthing my son so uncomfortable. I know there’s like those unicorn women out there who have these birth experiences where they feel no pain. I was not one of those women. It was so painful. It was so intense. Pregnancy at times was so awkward, and so uncomfortable. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world. So, where in your life have you been willing to lean into discomfort on purpose, because there was something you wanted on the other side. I wanted to taste living in a lot of different places. And just having that sense of adventure. So I can really decide what I wanted for my life, which is why I moved around a lot. That’s why I was willing to lean into that discomfort.

Courtney Townley 15:49
Moving my business online, gave me so much opportunity to be flexible in my schedule, as I raised a young child, to call my own shots to scale my business in a way that I didn’t feel was possible with a brick and mortar business. So I was willing to lean into that discomfort. The other practice I talk about a lot, if you’re a client or a student of mine, or you even listen to this Podcast for you know, a few a few times, you’re probably aware that I talk a lot about strategy. And one of the things about strategy that I’m always encouraging is that you ease your way into things.

Courtney Townley 16:39
When you’re developing a new practice, when you’re going after a new endeavor, when you’re trying to build a new skill set, it’s probably not the smartest thing to do, to apply everything you know about that thing all at once. Why? Because it overwhelms your brain and an overwhelmed brain feels threatened. And a threatened brain will encourage you to take no action. So my dear friend, Irene Lyon, who I think a lot of you have probably either heard her on this Podcast, I mean, dear Lord, she’s been on the show five times. But Irene Lyon does a lot of work around helping people to better understand how to heal and optimize the nervous system. And she uses the term titrate a lot. And titrate is a term used in chemistry. That basically refers to continuously measuring and adjusting the dosage of elements that you’re adding together. Because if you add too much of something in a chemistry lab, that can go horribly wrong.

Courtney Townley 17:55
And the same is true of your life, the same is true of the strategies you’re using to improve your life. It is very, is a very Grace filled act to titrate. Our strategy, so we slowly build our capacity for discomfort by starting small. And as we prove to ourselves that we can handle a small level of discomfort, we can up the game, we can add new challenges, we can take bigger risks. I’ve used the example in the past of teaching my son how to read, which by the way, I did not solely do that job. There were a lot of people who participated in the development of my son’s reading abilities. But the reason I’m bringing this up, is because when my son first started the learning process of reading it give him a you know, a novel to start dissecting. He started with sounds he started with learning the alphabet, he started to string words together, and then sentences and then paragraphs. And then we graduated the books, right from just picture books, two books with you know, one page had one word on it, and an illustration to show what that one word was. And then the books got a little more complicated. And now at 12 years old, he’s reading novels, no problem. But in order to be successful, we had to start small.

Courtney Townley 19:43
I’m a big believer that starting small does not mean that you’re not smart. It means that you’re very serious about succeeding. So how can you start leaning in to your discomfort to your Hollings without overwhelming yourself. I’ll tell you just with the invention of this Podcast with the creation of this Podcast, I knew nothing about Podcast creation. I liked the idea of it. But I didn’t really know everything I was going to have to do in order to make it successful, which honestly is a blessing. Because I think if I knew everything I had to do, I might not have done it.

Courtney Townley 20:30
So instead of thinking about all the things I had to do in order to have a successful Podcast, I really asked myself, Where do I need to start. And of course, I had a lot of guidance in that I hired people, I asked a lot of friends who were already podcasting, how to help me get clarity on the foundation. And really, it started with creating content, I had to come up with an idea. In terms of the things I wanted to talk about, I had to brainstorm those ideas.

Courtney Townley 21:07
So it wasn’t just one idea, but lots of ideas that fell underneath that main umbrella. And then I had to get more clear on how to communicate those messages. And it’s over time I stack these things together. To the point that now seven years later, I can dedicate a few hours a week to publish a Podcast that seven years ago, took me I felt like an entire week. The third practice, I’m going to recommend in terms of making peace with discomfort, is building a practice of arguing for the bright side. All of my students are very used to hearing me say that I encourage them to argue for why something’s a problem. Go ahead, argue it out.

Courtney Townley 22:02
Tell me all the reasons why this is a problem. Tell me all the reasons why this sucks, why it’s hard, why you’ll never succeed. I give them the space to do that. And I asked them to give equal bandwidth. To the bright side. Why is this awesome? How is this going to change you? How is this going to help you? What are going to be all the benefits on the other side? Because what most humans do, most humans focus on the downside of the argument, why it’s a problem. While they’re never succeed. All the obstacles in their way, why they don’t have time. We spent a lot of time in that argument. But if we spent equally as much time arguing for why that things on the table at all, we would have so much more motivation and willingness to do the work.

Courtney Townley 23:09
The other day I had scheduled to go to the gym at the end of my work day, which was probably around 330. And I did not want to go there was not a fiber in my being that wanted to go I was exhausted. I was playing a very hefty tape of all the things that needed to get done. And I was arguing for why I should sit at my desk and keep working. And I let myself go there. I let myself go all in on the argument for why I shouldn’t go to the gym. And then I spent an equal amount of time arguing for why it was even on my schedule. I remembered the space I was in when I wrote it on my schedule. And there are compelling reasons I have for putting it on my schedule. I reminded myself that rarely, if ever do I leave the gym feeling worse than I came in. I don’t regret going to the gym. Ever. I reminded myself how much I love moving my body, how much energy it gives me how great it makes me feel. I reminded myself of the promise that I made to myself, and the energy from which that promise was made. I made that promise to myself from a space of integrity from a clearer understanding of who I wanted to be in the world. I made it from a very peaceful and intentional space. And so breaking that promise to myself was literally going to give up my piece I will is not going to go to bed that night feeling good about how I showed up, because I negotiated my way out of my workout.

Courtney Townley 25:08
So argue for the bright side, you can argue for the dark side, absolutely. And fiercely commit to giving equal bandwidth to the bright side. The next practice I highly recommend is to stop contributing to your own suffering. In other words, manage your brain.

Courtney Townley 25:34
Last week again, I talked a lot about generating power on this Podcast. And I see an awful lot of people generating suffering instead of power, because of what they make things mean. Think about this for a second. We fear discomfort. We hide from discomfort because of something that we have complete control over. Which is you have complete control over what you make discomfort mean. You, my friend are a meaning making machine and you get to make discomfort mean terrible things or you can choose to make discomfort mean wonderful things.

Courtney Townley 26:33
So, acknowledge where you may be contributing to your own suffering. By way of how you’re thinking about discomfort. I always say discomfort is unnecessary suffering is optional. But man do we suffer? We don’t suffer because of discomfort. We suffer because of what we make discomfort mean.

Courtney Townley 26:58
Okay, last thing I want to speak to here is the practice of managing your brain, specifically around other people’s discomfort. Ladies, I get people pleasing. I have been a people pleaser. I work with a lot of people pleasers. And people pleasing, ultimately, is trading your piece to make other people feel more comfortable. It is an attempt to in trying to get other people to like us. And the cost of it is that we ultimately don’t like ourselves. Because when we are in a state of people pleasing, we are often being very inauthentic and going against the grain of what feels true for us.

Courtney Townley 27:56
So remember this, who you are today is a byproduct of who you have practiced being. Now some of your practices are awesome and serving you really well. And some of your practices are depleting you and costing you integrity with yourself. I think of clients I talked to who, you know, like every week, they’re talking about their need to get more sleep and they need to put themselves to bed earlier. And they consistently stay up late at night, rationalizing that it’s their opportunity to spend quality time with their family or with themselves or whoever they’re arguing it for right? Which is so interesting, because when we really dig into it, that’s not quality time. They’re watching TV, they’re spacing out. They’re half asleep. It’s not really quality time. And then they’re making it worse because they’re arguing for why they can’t possibly put themselves to bed. They don’t want to make their husband uncomfortable. They don’t want to upset their kids. Right.

Courtney Townley 29:23
Another example is lots of people going to parties or dinners or social events where people put food in front of you or a drink in your hand and you feel compelled to drink it to make them comfortable. It’s okay not to drink it. It’s okay not to eat the food. It is not your work to manage other people’s opinions about your decisions as you do your own In your work, and you start to identify the practices that are not serving the version of you that you want most fully expressed in the world, and you start changing the way that you show up, people are going to be uncomfortable because of uncertainty, and because of what they are making your decisions mean. And, you know, this sounds so obvious, but man, we need this reminder, you do not have the power to manage other people’s brains. Not only do you not have the power, but it’s not your work. It’s their work. I talk a lot about integrity. And I believe that improving our life improving our health is always an exercise in aligning ourselves with our integrity. And integrity is liking who you are, what you do, and why you do the things you do. And you are going to make a lot of decisions in your life, that helps you to like yourself more that allow you to like how you move through the world.

Courtney Townley 31:22
And you’re going to do things where you really like the reasons for doing them. I hope you do, right. That’s the point. And when you do, it’ll take some people off, it’ll rub some people the wrong way. It’ll make some people uncomfortable. I’ve had clients pissed off at me so many times in my life, because I’ve changed the way I was doing business. Because I closed a brick and mortar studio to evolve myself as a coach. Because I ended a conversation that I no longer wanted to have around certain topics to allow more room for the conversations that I was really compelled to have. I loved my reasons. And I had to be okay with other people’s discomfort. I’ve had to ask my husband, for things that, you know, I wasn’t really sure how he would react needing to spend some time by myself. A lot of you know that I travel quite a bit by myself, because it’s a way that I refuel myself. And early in my marriage, when I first started having those conversations with my husband, it felt really risky. I didn’t want to hurt him. I didn’t want to upset him. And simultaneously, I had to ask for what I needed. Otherwise, I wasn’t going to show up in the relationship in a way that helps the relationship to stay healthy. So we have to be willing to stand in the space of other people’s discomfort with our decisions.

Courtney Townley 33:07
As long as you like your decisions, and you like your reasons for your decisions. It’s okay that other people are uncomfortable. Today, and this has not always been the case. But I can say that today, I’m more committed to my opinion of myself, that I am committed to the opinions that other people have of me. And I’m a better coach for it. I’m a better wife for it. I am a better friend for it. Because I finally decided to put down work that was never mind to do. And when I put down the work of trying to manage other people’s brains, other people’s thoughts about me, it opens up so much time and energy and resources for me to manage my thoughts about me. And I show up in such a more powerful way as that person. So I hope this lands I hope this was helpful.

Courtney Townley 34:18
Once again, if it is helpful, please consider leaving a review. It matters. And I appreciate it. I thank you in advance. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week and I’ll see you again very soon. Take care

Courtney Townley 34:39
Thank you for listening to the grace and grit Podcast. It is time to mend the fabric of the female health story. And it starts with you taking radical responsibility for your own self care. You are worth the effort and with a little grace and grit anything is possible.


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