Venturing into discomfort doesn’t come only from trying new experiences or exposing yourself to new ideas. Sometimes you can enter the discomfort zone in a more subtle way.
A simple change to your routine — even doing the same things you do every day, but in a new sequence — can create plenty of discomfort.
Routines ground us; they are especially helpful in a world that feels more in chaos every day. They give us consistency and reliability.
If you’re seeking increased productivity, the structures of routine and ritual create space for us to enter flow states, where we can do our work with greater ease.
When we grip too hard to our routines and rules, we weaken the muscles of flexibility, leaving us ill-prepared for the inevitable disruptions that comes our way.
Life doesn’t always go according to plan
What happens when something disrupts your routine? How do you respond to that infusion of chaos?
Or, perhaps more accurately, how do you react to it?
Do you grip even more tightly to your structure?
Or do you laugh in the face of unforeseen events and surrender to the humor of the larger force that’s in control?
The question to ask as you’re gripping is how is this serving you — or not.
What strengths go undiscovered when we cling to who we think we are?
What possibilities for improvement go unexamined when we hang on to what we “know” works?
What worlds go unexplored when we stay within the structures we create for ourselves?
Adaptability is a Muscle
The ability to “roll with it” — to adapt, to bend with the wind — is a skill. It is a muscle that we can strengthen.
Historically, I have gripped hard to what I know works: to the structure, the rules, the routines.
Ironically, my physical grip strength isn’t as strong as my mental and emotional grip strength.
With my physical therapist, I’m working on exercises to improve my physical grip strength.
Outside the gym, I work on loosening my grip and strengthening my adaptability.
Experiments in Uprooting
A core theme of my “home-free adventure” has been to experiment with the uprooting of my routine to build that muscle.
Today I packed my suitcase for the 27th time in 2019. That’s a lot of uprooting. A lot of disruption.
Each time I venture out of the regimented orderliness of my routines and rituals, I notice my discomfort and the inevitable resistance that follows.
This is a crucial point to understand:
Even though intentionally disrupting my routines, resistance still arises.
This is the discomfort of growth. You don’t get a free pass just because you created the disruption.
Beneath my resistance is fear: I won’t get everything done “on time.” If I break my rules and deviate from my regimented routine, my whole world will disintegrate.
Except: it hasn’t.
Each disruption strengthens the muscles.
Each new infusion of chaos drops into a deep well of calm.
Disruptions become easier to navigate.
In the moments when I feel like I’m out of rhythm and routine I remind myself that this is why I’m here: to strengthen the muscle of adaptability.
I slow down. I breathe. I do Yin Yoga and reiki and I breathe into the space of expanded time.