How to be Comfortable in the Uncomfortable
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.
- Separate your different selves
- Look forward, not back
- 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.