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Winter Discomfort and Emotional Pain

Winter Discomfort, Emotional Pain: Hate, Accept or Embrace?

At this time of year, I hear so many people say “I hate winter”. They’re booking their vacations to Florida, and Mexico and Costa Rica. Retired snowbirds pack up to head to their winter homes for the next few months. Anywhere but Canada; and especially Manitoba. BURRRR!!!

I think it’s valuable to look at this pattern of choosing to get away from the cold as a reflection of our current culture. We have a tendency to want to avoid anything that makes us uncomfortable.

In today’s society, we seem to do the same thing with feelings. Any situation that may make us uncomfortable is to be avoided at all costs. When we do experience emotional discomfort, we reject those feelings, try to escape them, hide them and “hate feeling this way”.

It takes a lots of energy to hate and avoid something. Hate is not neutral and actual requires ongoing attention to find evidence of the reasons why the hate exists. “I hate winter.” It’s cold. I have to wear a hat and it messes my hair. It takes so long for the car to warm up. The streets are slippery. It’s so dark. It’s too hard to go out. There’s nothing to do.

This expending of energy also applies to hating and rejecting uncomfortable feelings. It takes energy to stuff an unwanted emotion into a metaphoric box. It’s draining to constantly seek out the reasons why we shouldn’t experience certain feelings. When we judge our feelings as “bad” or “negative”, we can sometimes judge ourselves as bad or in a negative light. That’s so depleting. It not only zaps our energy when we experience hate but it also spreads negative energy to everyone else around.

Hate is not all negative. It raises our awareness of the discomfort that exists within us. But the healthy strategy in dealing with these uncomfortable feelings, if we hope to grow from them, is not to avoid or deny them. It’s to accept them…as they are. To make space for the fact that we, as humans, have a wide range of both physical feelings and emotional feelings. Some are comfortable and some are uncomfortable.

Acceptance doesn’t mean you have to like something. It just means you are aware of the reality of something existing and are willing to make space for the presence of the discomfort.

If you accept that the winter is cold and the streets are icy, you can make a conscious decision as to how to manage it rather than just hibernating to avoid it.

If you accept that you’re stressed, you will likely have more energy to find the source of the overwhelm rather than using the energy to avoid facing the reality.

Hate has a way of taking up lots of space and doesn’t allow for new perspectives or alternative possibilities. Acceptance is a giant step away from hate.

Acceptance is space. Space to breathe. Space to just be. Space to be open. Space for new ideas. Space for creativity. Space for love.

The step beyond acceptance is to embrace. When we embrace something, it’s the conscious decision to do something different, from a place of love.

From my own experience, I can say that I embrace and love winter. Is it uncomfortable for me to be cold? Yup. Does the wind chill me to the bone sometimes? It sure does. Are there days I wrap myself up in a blanket and stay in rather than take my dogs for their much needed walk? Guiltily, yes.

What I’ve learned from my discomfort is that I can do something about it. I can wear warm clothes and let go of what I look like when I’m bundled up. I’m ok with spending money on good quality winter clothing and outdoor toys (skis, snowboard, snowshoes, winter sleeping bag) because it allows me to get to a space (mindset) of loving winter.

I love the beauty of the snow and the contrast with a clear blue sky. I love the glide of cross-country skis over the rolling terrain of the Whiteshell trails. I love the flow of riding a snowboard down the runs at Asessippi Ski Resort. I love the shared experience of joy with my dogs as they play and frolic, wearing their built-in winter coats. I love saying that I have slept outdoors, under the stars, in -30 temperatures. I love that it’s bug-free.

I’ve also learned to accept and then embrace feelings of sadness, loss, and grief. I used to avoid these feelings, doing everything I could to deny that these emotions were part of my human experience. I would avoid taking about my uncomfortable feelings and judge them as being bad and me as being weak.

I now appreciate all that these feelings teach me about myself and that by accepting these feelings in myself, I am more open to accepting the range of feelings that other people experience. By walking through the Grief Recovery Method myself and becoming a specialist to facilitate the process, I’ve learned the power of embracing, not just accepting, emotions. I think this has been the key to me becoming a much more effective coach. I don’t expect people to grow without experiencing discomfort and I’m happy to walk beside women when they’re willing to be go on this journey of inner exploration.

It’s a brave choice to accept your discomfort. But in my opinion, I believe it’s a necessary choice to grow from where you are. When you accept, you are opening the door to love.

So go on winter getaways! Not because you hate winter but because there’s space to love  wherever you are.

 Upcoming Retreats

Explore Life Coaching has two retreat offerings in the new year to journey with you through your discomfort and create more space for peace and love. One is intended to embrace winter and the other is intended to embrace feelings related to loss. Both will take place in Pinawa, at my Nurtured by Nature Retreat and Playhouse.

Details are still being sorted out but if you want to be added to the “notify me list”, just send me an email. You’ll be given the earliest opportunity to register. Space will be available for 4-8 women.

The Camp KidAgain Playful Retreat: Winter Edition

February 14-18. (This is the Louis Riel long-weekend so we’ll have 3 full days and 3 nights of winter fun.)

Possible activities will include:

  • Snowshoeing
  • Tobogganing
  • a small town concert at the Pinawa Community Centre (traditional east coast music)
  • sushi making
  • crafts
  • indoor and outdoor games
  • backcountry cook-out
  • quinzhee building  (and maybe sleep outside
  • cross-country skiing
  • quiet time by the fire
Heal Your Heart Retreat: Learning to Let Go

Tentatively scheduled for March 15-18



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Comments (1)

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    Audrey smith


    Hi i’m Interested in the heal your heart retreat.. could you please keep me post where and what the cost is? Thank you


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