How I changed my life with one emotion (and how it will help your kids be successful too)

Adrienne pregnant with Finn
Photo credit: Dinko Mitic

When I was pregnant with my first two babies, I had the brilliant idea that since I was gaining weight anyway, I might as well eat whatever I wanted. So I gained 42 and 52 pounds respectively with each pregnancy. I didn’t exercise during either pregnancy and had trouble losing the weight afterwards. Fast forward to my third pregnancy and I had been living a much healthier lifestyle (eating a mostly Paleo diet) before I got pregnant and didn’t want to gain as much weight as before. I also wanted to be fitter so I wouldn’t have such a hard time losing weight afterwards. It was hard, as I was exhausted from working and chasing after my other two children, and was having a lot of pain and discomfort but I continued to eat as healthy as I could and worked out 5 times a week during the pregnancy.

…I only gained 25 pounds total and as of today (10 months postpartum) have lost almost all of it.

I always thought of myself as a disorganized person, but this year, I have begun to declutter, one cabinet at a time. I am finding systems that help me be more organized and here’s the newest part of the change:

…I am maintaining those systems and keeping things organized daily.

In the past, I have always worked out after 8am. This past month, I have started running at 6am so I can work during my son’s naps, and it was hard adjustment. I have struggled on the runs to wake my body up and have been running much slower,

…but today I pushed myself and ran my normal faster pace.

I would have never imagined a few years ago that I would be starting my own business. I am normally pretty risk averse and sometimes back down from challenges, so having a business sounded like the scariest thing I could imagine doing with my career,

…but here I am, working towards a goal of making $100,000 a year and honoring my commitment to myself.

I am taking on tasks around the house that I usually don’t do, like mowing the lawn, heavy lifting, garbage duty, and the big one, money matters and budgeting

…and I feel so empowered because I know I can figure anything out.

So why am I telling you all of this?

To talk about the emotion of discomfort.

Living as an upper middle class white person in today’s society had really stunted my growth. There are so many comforts and ways to distract me from challenging myself. My brain even thinks it’s accomplishing something when I watch TV or look at my phone. There’s so much dopamine, and no motivation to leave the proverbial “cave”.

As a species, we thrived on avoiding pain, seeking pleasure, and exerting the least amount of energy as possible.

And as ancient humans that served us well and kept us alive. But now that we have too much pleasure available to us at all times, it is preventing us from getting to the next level in our lives.

However, in order to live our best and most fulfilling lives, we have to purposefully put ourselves out there and seek discomfort.

Discomfort is the currency to our dreams, as Brooke Castillo says.

We have to open ourselves up to experiencing pain in order to grow. Taking action and putting our work out in the world means that we may face criticism, judgment, and failure, and that can be scary, but not putting ourselves out there is worse. It’s a slow painful death of all the things in your life you wanted to create but didn’t out of fear of discomfort.

I used to avoid discomfort until I realized it was costing me so much – my self-confidence because I wasn’t trying new things, success because I wasn’t allowing myself to fail, and happiness in creating something meaningful in my career. Once I leaned into discomfort as a positive emotion, then I began to see all the possibilities for my future. This combination of seeing possibilities and being willing to feel discomfort has changed my life.

I stopped looking to my past for evidence that told me I didn’t know how to do something and started looking towards my future and took the step to DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT to get a different result.

I ate healthier and exercised daily to have a healthy pregnancy, I took action and put myself out there with this business, and everyday, I make it a little challenge with myself to seek out discomfort, and to try new things all the time to do the hard things, and to imagine new possibilities, and do something different if I want a different result. I don’t stay in the cave anymore, and I don’t avoid pain, and it doesn’t feel amazing all the time. When I am doing my best work, it doesn’t always feel good, but that’s ok, that’s just discomfort and courage.

Courage has to have fear to exist, so it just means that it won’t always feel great.

But that’s how we create our ideal life. We change our thoughts so that we come to terms with the idea that discomfort is ok and normal and necessary. Then we can have a better result.

So in the “self-coaching model”, what if we decide that discomfort is the circumstance (or a verifiable unchangeable fact)? If we know that we need to feel pain and discomfort to get a different result in our lives, then that becomes our circumstance. It’s just a fact.

Then what will our thought need to be so we can move forward while feeling discomfort?

Circumstance: Discomfort
Thought: Discomfort is the currency to our dreams
Feeling: motivated
Action: You put your work out into the world and make hard changes in your life
Result: You have the ideal life you want

This is how we grow and this is how we thrive.

Not giving up when faced with challenges, especially ones that make us feel discomfort, is called grit. This is a learned skill, not a skill we are born with, which is really good news. And I am proof that this skill can be learned at any age.

Our children don’t need to be smart, they need to have grit and they need to learn how to feel discomfort in order to make their dreams a reality. Padding our children’s lives from discomfort and pain is only hurting them in the long run. Challenges make us step up to the plate and solve our own problems, which then in turn gives us confidence that we have the power to do anything and figure anything out, which is a skill that cannot be taken away and really separates successful people from unsuccessful people.

If you want a different result in your life, be willing to risk feeling discomfort, imagine the possibilities based on your future, not your past, and do something different.

This is what I want to teach my kids.

If you want to learn how to live your best life and not just settle for more of the same, schedule a 20 minute mini session with me. It’s FREE and is a chance for us to talk about where you are, where you want to go, and how to get there. I can’t wait to help!

Claim your spot on my schedule here!