Pamela Chapman, LCSW, Therapist
What does it mean to
Embrace the Suck?
This phrase has been around for decades, possibly originating in the military but the concept is universal. Learning to Embrace the Suck in life is important when we need to work through uncomfortable things without the expectation that it will be unicorns and rainbows right away. Let’s face it, any kind of change is usually uncomfortable in the beginning.
You may be asking, why is it so uncomfortable? Because it can be scary that’s why! It can be terrifying to stop looking at everything out there and look at what’s really happening inside. When we stop and look, we can be introduced to the most unpleasant part of ourselves, the ugly, angry, and worst versions of who we are. This is not for the faint of heart, it takes bravery and compassion to sit with things we’d much rather avoid. A Buddhist nun named Pema Chodron, is not afraid to call it like it is. In her book When things fall apart, she writes “Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look. That’s the compassionate thing to do. That’s the brave thing to do… We can know the nature of dislike, shame, and embarrassment and not believe there’s something
wrong with that”. We all experience pain, stress, feel overwhelmed and generally feel beat up from time to time. This is what it means to be human we don’t need to feel ashamed or hide this version of ourselves. Let's face it together!
Over the years I have been asked a version of this question by almost all my clients “Why should run headfirst into the crap I’ve worked so hard to avoid, what do I get out of facing myself”? At first? Usually more of the same, feeling reactive, irritable, and overwhelmed. Tho, over time, when we stop avoiding and distracting ourselves, we begin the necessary process of change. We can learn to be more patient, less irritable, and feel less overwhelmed.
What does change look like, the answer? It's different for everyone and is usually gradual. In the book Atomic Habits, author James Clear stresses the concept of “Mastering the art of showing up.” What does this mean? It means doing small, incremental things which can over time lead to big changes. This could look differently to everyone. It could mean choosing to take a walk when you're in the middle of an argument with someone and you don’t want to say something hurtful. It could mean asking someone for help in a moment you're feeling overwhelmed and stressed rather than trying to stubborn it out. It could mean taking some time for yourself in a moment you feel you're at the end of your rope or your fuse couldn't get any shorter. And it could mean saying NO when you're asked to add something to your already full plate. These are all small examples of ways in which you can show up in your own life and begin the process of making change.
You may be asking, and rightly so, how in the hell do you change? The answer is simple, we re-wire your brain. Together, we discuss what has been happening, for example, “every time my boss talks to me I get mad.” We discuss why this is, what you feel emotionally and physically when your boss talks to you and what you’re telling yourself about that. That is mapping your brain my friend, we look at what is happening and why, then we work to change what is happening in the brain by using a variety of techniques depending on the stage of therapy you’re in. For more information on the states of therapy and what interventions we’d be using click on the My Approach page!
Bottom line, people can do hard things, you can do hard things. Whether you would like to feel happier, less anxious, and irritable, stop yelling at your kids, work through trauma or just be a better version of yourself, it takes time and the willingness to embrace the suck and face what is coming up. Once you do for the first time, the hardest part is over. I can help you every step of the way. If any part of this resonates with you, give me a call!