The Art of Distress Tolerance

Photo by Rodrigo Soares on Unsplash

Hello, beautiful minds! Let's discuss an essential aspect of emotional self-regulation, distress tolerance. This skill, the ability to withstand and navigate through emotional discomfort without becoming overwhelmed, is vital for emotional health and resilience.

I'd like to share a story that Shinzen Young, a renowned meditation teacher, once shared during a retreat. Shinzen explained that while he was on a meditation retreat himself, in the dead of winter in Japan, he was placed in a cabin with no heating. The cold was so intense it was virtually impossible to ignore. At first, he was consumed by the discomfort, his mind filled with thoughts of escape. But then, he chose to turn towards the discomfort. He focused on the sensations, experienced them without judgment, and surprisingly, found that they began to lose their power.

This is distress tolerance in action. It doesn't mean denying or repressing uncomfortable feelings. Instead, it involves accepting them, becoming more aware of them, and realizing that we can coexist with discomfort without being overwhelmed by it. By consciously increasing our distress tolerance, we gain an essential tool to manage difficult emotions, ultimately enhancing our emotional resilience and mental health.

How can we cultivate distress tolerance in our lives? It begins with the understanding that discomfort is a natural part of life. Then, like Shinzen, we can practice mindfulness and acceptance, gently turning towards our discomfort rather than away. In doing so, we empower ourselves to live more balanced and resilient lives. How will you build your distress tolerance? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

If you're not aware, I created a 13-month guided meditation program. One goal of which is to teach distress tolerance. If you'd like to check it out, click here.

Wishing you abundant health, happiness, and prosperity,


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