Welcome to Insights and Implications!
We have colleagues all over the world sharing an understanding of the mind to diverse populations. There are groups in the UK working with school children and educators, and others working in prisons and with the chronically mentally ill. There are people in Chicago working with gang youth. The list is impressive.
One of our favorite colleagues is Anna Debenham, a transplanted Brit who lives in Portland, OR and founded, The Insight Alliance (https://theinsightalliance.org/ ). Anna runs programs in both men’s and women’s prisons sharing how the mind works to inmates. She also mentors those released from prison to become mentors and teachers for The Insight Alliance.
She recently shared the following story on her blog. Read on for an amazing story on how the principles changed someone’s life.
All of us at Insight Principles
Are You Uncomfortable?
Some weeks ago, on a boiling hot Wednesday evening, I was leading one of our groups in the men’s prison. One participant, JH, was getting really restless and agitated as the room was pretty toasty. To be fair it was bloody hot. 28 men in a room with no air conditioning and 95 degrees F outside… so he did have a point. But it’s just heat. No one was going to die. And no one else was making a fuss. He was behaving like the sweat dripping down his front was out to attack him. He kept saying how uncomfortable he felt.
I then said something like, “Why do you care so much about being uncomfortable? It’s only a feeling. You don’t have to react to a feeling.” We left it at that – he wasn’t that amused by my observation and I wasn’t going to continue giving it airtime, so we moved on. He did actually quiet down.
The following week during check-in another participant (GD) who had been sitting next to JH, shared an insight. When GD heard – “why do you care so much about being uncomfortable?” – something clicked inside. GD has had a severe anxiety disorder for many years and he also has Tourette’s Syndrome, which shows up as an involuntary tic. He twitched, pretty severely most of the time.
He realized his twitching was a reaction to an uncomfortable feeling. He felt anxious and it created a twitch. The twitch relieved the anxiety and so it went on, again and again. But what he realized in that moment was – why do I care if I’m uncomfortable? I don’t have to react to discomfort, it’ll pass on it’s own if I do nothing. He saw his anxiety as a temporary manifestation of his state of mind in the moment. And left alone. With no reaction to try and rid himself of it, it passed.
And quite like magic he no longer twitches. It’s actually quite strange to sit next to him now, he seems like a different person. He’s relaxed and comfortable in his own skin. He still feels anxious sometimes but he knows now he doesn’t have to react to it. And as he said – “I’ve been uncomfortable plenty of times in my life so I realized it’s ok. And now I don’t even see discomfort I just see life moving through me.”
This is an extraordinary story about a very common occurrence – getting bummed out/pissed off/worried about a temporary experience. We all get uncomfortable. And we often react badly to the discomfort, prolonging the misery. What if, like GD, we realized that discomfort will pass on it’s own?
Be sure to check out Anna’s Tedx talk: Click Here