The Value in Choosing What You DON'T Want

Every day - we face tons of things that we don't want to do. It's the pre-wired channels of our brains telling us "why do that? It will make you feel uncomfortable." You'd rather respond to texts or emails, reorganise your credit cards, watch TV, or (insert any method of procrastination here). 

There are - however- two distinct types of discomfort. And we know instantly which one we are facing at any given time.

Preference Discomfort

The first type of discomfort arises from genuine preference toward specific situations (or lack thereof), and can be used to create the "life situation" that's closer to our values. Such as "I don't enjoy holidays in large cities because of the rush and noise", or "it makes me uncomfortable to watch horror films." These discomforts enable us to make low-stake decisions away from them, toward our preferences, that make life more enjoyable in the moment for us as individuals. "I don't want to go on holiday to London - I'd much prefer the Lake District or the Scottish Highlands." Or - "Let's watch Guardians of the Galaxy rather than The House in the Woods tonight." 

Uncertainty Discomfort

The second type of discomfort arises out of the brain's desire to avoid uncertainty and stick to a familiar environment, as a result of not being in full control of the situation. "I'm worried to start writing because I'm afraid I won't turn out the best possible chapter of my book". Or - "I'm afraid to change jobs job because I might lose my network and be a nobody at the new place." Or - "I'm afraid to try out boxing, or calisthenics, or netball, or touch rugby, because I don't want to embarrass myself in front of other people, and what if I'm no good?" 

The Importance of Distinguishing the Two

The first type of discomfort often relates a decision with little emotional stake. Whereas the second type of discomfort often relates to decisions with much higher emotional impact. The second type of discomfort hits us when we do in fact care very much about the outcome of a situation, so much in fact that we may avoid it rather than face the risk of facing the possible emotional consequences of disappointment or perceived "failure". 

The problem is - that the brain translates both types of discomfort into the same thought: "I don't want to do this". It doesn't distinguish between the stakes involved. So we often react the same way to both types of discomfort, and miss opportunities for personal growth where the latter type is present. 

So the next time you find yourself saying "I don't want to do this" - whether it's in the fitness and movement realm, the relationships realm, the financial realm, professional realm, or any other aspect of life - accept the thought, and just "be" with it long enough to understand which type of discomfort is the reason for that thought. If it's the latter - then build a habit of pressing on with the activity whilst still allowing the discomfort to be. Then see where this practice of courage and self-awareness takes you.