How to be Comfortable in the Uncomfortable

Published by Thriving Erin on

How we’re navigating life in the aftermath of losing a job

 

Seven weeks ago, my husband suddenly lost his job. There was no warning, no time to prepare, no time to process the change. Around 150 people were sent home early that day, told to come and collect their personal things on the weekend when nobody else was around, their jobs gone due to ‘restructuring.’ When Chris called me with the news, I was shocked. It didn’t quite seem real, he had been working there for eight years and been blindsided.

 

The reality is, this is life. Most people have, or will, go through something similar in their life. As we started trying to process the sudden change, it was incredibly uncomfortable. The situation felt entirely out of our control, and it felt weird to be trying to process something that had already happened. The decision was made, the change implemented, all we could do was figure out how to move forward.

 

When I talk about uncomfortable situations I’m talking about situations that:

  • arise unexpectedly
  • feel out of our control
  • push us into some realm of the unknown

 

This can look like a lost job, a failed relationship, a health crisis, a forced move, or any other scenario that unexpectedly disrupts our routines and plans. Life often takes unexpected turns. In fact, it sometimes feels like the only predictable thing in life is that it’s unpredictable. We all know this, but we don’t live this way – we put down roots, establish routines, and make plans that rely on things staying the same. Then, when they don’t, we find ourselves struggling to navigate these uncomfortable situations. The key then, is not avoiding uncomfortable situations (that would be impossible), but rather to learn how to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations.

 

Over the last seven weeks, this is something Chris has learned to do brilliantly. There are three things he has found key in this process.

  1. Separate your different selves
  2. Look forward, not back
  3. Know what you want

 

Separate Your Different Selves

We all have different selves and identities. Chris can identify himself as a physiotherapist, but he can also identify himself as a husband, son, friend, student, researcher, traveler, or avid photographer. It was only he as a physiotherapist that lost his job. The feelings of hurt and rejection that come with that need to be limited to that self. He is still a great husband, a dedicated student, passionate traveler, and many other things. By viewing these parts of himself as separate, he is able to be confident in his value as a human being and not allow this one area of his life to affect his ability to enjoy the other areas of his life.

 

Look Forward, Not Back

After losing his job, it was easy to want to ask why this happened, to look for someone to blame, or to be jealous of those whose jobs were protected. However, there is absolutely nothing positive that can come out of dwelling on these ideas. It is human nature to think this way so there are no tricks to overcoming this thinking, there is simply being intentional every day to look forward. Look forward to new opportunities, to fresh choices and new starts. Each day it gets easier to look forward, but there needs to be an intentional decision to focus our thoughts on where we’re going, not on the comfortable places we’ve been because the reality is, we can’t go back anyways.

 

Know What You Want

Uncomfortable situations can be awful to navigate, but don’t let the emotional whirlwind drive you into another uncomfortable situation. For Chris, losing his job forced him to reassess what exactly he wants out of his career. Yes, he was comfortable at his job, even happy in it. But now he has had space to dream, to figure out what gets him excited, what he is passionate about. He can be intentional now to move in a direction that will get him there. It’s not that he will only take his “dream job,” it’s that with an awareness of where he wants to go, he can make sure his first steps are in the right direction.

 

Someone once told me, before you start climbing the corporate ladder, make sure it’s leaning against the right building. So use the time as an opportunity to re-assess, if you know where you want to go, make sure you’re facing that direction, and if you don’t . . . there’s no better time than now to find out.

 

 

Categories: Musings

7 Comments

Rhoda · June 1, 2019 at 7:02 pm

Dear Erin and Chris, so sorry to hear this news. However in my heart I feel that this is going to launch you into something much more beautiful. Stan always says and we have experienced, that, when God puts us on the eject seat He has already made the perfect plans for us. Praying for His perfect peace for Chris and you as you chart out your next step. Love you dear.

Kristin Ward · May 28, 2019 at 10:54 pm

Erin, I’m so sorry to hear about this. Really tough situation, particularly when blindsided. I’m amazed by the wisdom you share in such close proximity to the event. The idea of different selves is really illuminating and something I am going to spend more time thinking about. The analogy of the ladder and building is certainly worth of further consideration as well. Thank you for sharing this and wishing you both the best.

    Thriving Erin · May 30, 2019 at 7:00 am

    Thanks Kristin, I’m glad to hear some of the ideas resonate with you. Though we’ve learned the idea of the different selves it definitely takes practice to actually be able to separate them, we’re still working on it. Good luck to you!

Rachel · May 28, 2019 at 8:27 pm

Hey Erin and Chris, I’m so sorry to hear you have been through this. It must have been a terrible shock. Have you read “Who Moved My Cheese?” The premise is very similar: a situation which we come to rely on suddenly changes and how do we respond? You have some excellent advice here and I hope Chris finds new work he enjoys soon. I really like the analogy of the ladder at the end. I didn’t prop mine up against the right building and I hadn’t thought of it like that until now. Remembering not to get too comfy is important.

    Thriving Erin · May 29, 2019 at 7:51 am

    Thanks Rachel. I loved “Who Moved My Cheese?” and the concepts of taking charge of ourselves during the change are so helpful. Hope everything worked out for you with moving your ladder!

Tyler Lowe · May 28, 2019 at 7:16 pm

Hi Erin! Thanks for the post and for sharing the changes your family is going through. I love the corporate ladder analog at the end! Have Chris thought of starting his own practice … building his own building instead of climbing a different ladder on someone else’s? (to continue the analogy)

Angus · May 27, 2019 at 6:37 am

So much good stuff here, Erin — the name of your site comes into really sharp focus. Thanks for sharing something that must still hurt for Chris and you both. But that you’re clearly navigating with considerable grace. It struck me that your takeaways, if practised intentionally, also help with the nub of the problem as you’ve identified it — that we ‘make plans that rely on things staying the same’. A few things do, but most don’t. Best of luck to Chris as he explores the space to dream.

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