I was lunging with 8 pound weights at a bootcamp that I decided to join this summer. The trainer I’ve been working with (who is Doug Jones and amazing on so many levels) looked at me and said, “Those are too light for you, huh?” I gave him a sheepish grin, squinted my eyes and said, “But I’m comfortable?” knowing too well that that question/statement was inviting challenge and perhaps even a snarky comment..DJ just looked at me and pointed to the weights. “Go get yourself two 10 pound weights.” A kid who overheard my statement mumbled mischievously, “Get comfortable being uncomfortable,” and kinda laughed. He was obviously repeating Doug Jones’ words from an earlier time.
I was thinking about “getting comfortable being uncomfortable” later when I was walking into town (I am living in the woods this summer which is a whole other incredible story). “How true that phrase is” I didn’t want to admit to myself, “both inside and outside a gym. “Grrr.” I am a walking cliche in that regard. Physical exercise gives me a certain amount of incredible humility, patience, and mental clarity (among many other virtues).
So the “outside gym” application that I came to was that “I am uncomfortable being imperfect.” I didn’t like that at first. Yuck. I don’t like being uncomfortable and I don’t like being imperfect. I liked my 8 pound weights. I was graceful with them. We were successful together. What if I make faces in the mirror because 10 pound weights are harder? What if (God forbid) I make a complete fool of myself and those 10 pound weights show all of my vulnerabilities and failures? What if I can’t do it? What will everybody think?
But then I chose to risk being uncomfortable. Outside the gym that discomfort with imperfection just leads to a horrible internal beating that turns into judgment of others whether it be “I am better than that person because…” or “I am worse than that person because…” and that leads to a whole set of unhealthy, resentful, self-righteous thoughts. As I was walking, I suddenly realized that it’s okay to be uncomfortable! (Dang it, Doug!).And actually if I don’t get comfortable in discomfort I just get more uncomfortable. So then maybe it’s easier just to sit it in it and take that risk. And then maybe that acceptance of my own discomfort in my imperfections frees me up to see and love others’ with more clarity which then I can turn towards myself…
and maybe next time make faces in the mirror as I lunge with 12 pound weights.