One of the lessons I’ve learned repeatedly in 15 years of training on the flying trapeze is the concept that
If it feels wrong, it’s probably right.
Why Change Feels Wrong
The idea is that when we change something it feels wrong because our body has acclimated to a certain way of moving. That way might be poor form, but it’s the way our body knows. These physical patterns, or habits, are the obstacle to our progress.
When we say “if it feels wrong, it’s probably right,” it doesn’t mean that the new thing we did is in proper form. In fact, sometimes the new thing we do is also poor form. It might be the “wrong” action.
But at least we did something different.
That’s the win.
As Tony Robbins says, “all progress comes from breaking patterns.”
Our bodies habituate to certain patterns. Anything that takes the body out of its patterns feels “wrong.” If we use muscles we aren’t used to using, or in ways we aren’t accustomed to, we instinctively label those feelings as “discomfort.”
This labeling is itself a habit — a pattern of emotion, thought, and language.
This is why it’s so hard hard to change: habits come bundled together. Physical habits, thought habits, emotional habits, plus language habits.
What We Mean When We Use the “Discomfort” Label
When we say it feels “wrong,” or “uncomfortable” what we really mean is that it feels strange, foreign, unfamiliar.
It feels different.
And if it feels different it’s because we did something different. That’s a win. We broke a habitual pattern.
The “discomfort” is simply the feeling of moving and being in a different way. The same way walking barefoot on gravel feels different from walking barefoot on sand or on the floor.
It creates physical sensations that we may not have previously experienced.
It feels different because it’s new. We don’t know what it’s “supposed to” feel like.
All we know is how it compares to what we know from before.
Comparison is another entrenched habit. It’s a mental habit; a way of making sense of the world by relating new things to things we already know.
How to Eliminate Discomfort
The fastest way to get comfortable with change is to relabel what you perceive as discomfort.
If we had no basis of comparison, we wouldn’t label a sensation as “wrong” or “uncomfortable.”
We would call it “new.”
Change is counterintuitive in this way. If it feels wrong, it’s because you’re doing something different from how you did it before.
You’re breaking the pattern.
That’s a good thing.