Sitting in the Muck

Sitting in the Muck

It’s been a rough week around here.  We move on Monday, but that hasn’t even taken center stage. Let me tell you why.

“Allow them to sit in the muck” is a phrase that I heard often during my training.  What the teachers were trying to get across is that after a client has done the hard work of getting to the underlying problem in part of their life, the coach needs to let them stay there.

It is important that once they arrive at the pain point that no one tries to fix it for them.  It is crucial for them to sit there and feel what needs to be felt.  Allowing them to sit in the muck, no matter how uncomfortable it is for you and them, is what allows for growth and change.

It doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?  But if you think about it, it makes sense.  The only way to change something about yourself is to face it.  If you continue to ignore it or suppress it then nothing will ever be different.  So if you want the pain to go away, if you want to find a way to better yourself– a little muck sitting (ok, sometimes a lot) is necessary.

And that is where I have been this week.  Sitting in the muck.

It all started with the mixed doubles tennis tournament last weekend.  We lost in the finals and we lost in the semi-finals. What? That doesn’t make any sense.  But, that is what happened.

It’s not necessary to go into the details. Suffice it to say that there was an unfortunate incident in the semi-finals where tempers flared.  Our court became the center of attention and we made quite a scene.  It was terrible and I believe we were all wrong in one way or another.

After the initial outburst, we were very quickly sorry and wanting to make amends.  Both teams wanted to default to the other.  We were friends and the tournament was not the important thing.  Somehow, after much “you play,” “no, you”, it ended up that we were the team to play in the finals.  Which we went on to lose in three sets.

Have I ever told you how much I dislike confrontation?  Or how much I try to avoid bringing negative attention to myself?  Or how people talking about me when they don’t know the whole story makes me crazy?  Stomach ache city.

But this is the new me, right?  The relaxed, laid back, zen, “it is what it is” Lorna.  That should have gotten me through.  That should have put perspective on the situation and helped put it behind me, right?

Yeah, not so much.

What it actually took was me having a call with my coach.    It became clear during the call that it is really easy for me to say “I don’t care what other people think” when all is going well.  But once there is something negative, something where I behaved badly and people might think ill of me—this is where things become very sticky.

And this is where sitting in the muck comes in.  What my coach encouraged me to do is become comfortable being uncomfortable.  In other words, embrace the situation. Acknowledge that it feels yucky and not try to just make it go away. Sit with it.  Acknowledge that people might be saying things.  They might even be saying things that aren’t true.  They might have changed their opinion of me.  They might have it right and they might have it wrong.

The point is that it doesn’t matter.  I am still the same person.  I am still the woman, wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend that I was before.  Absolutely nothing fundamental about me has changed. People’s opinon of me doesn’t have any bearing on who I am as a person (unless I let it).

If I have apologized and done all I can to make amends within the situation, that is all that I can do.  The rest is white noise that I cannot control.  The rest I need to be comfortable being uncomfortable about.

While I was trying to sit in this new place, two other opportunities to embrace uncomfortableness presented themselves.

By definition moving involves upheaval and turmoil.  Instead of maintaining the “I am fine, I’m getting through, it’s ok” stance–I have tried to shift more into, “I don’t like having everything around me be so unsettled, but it is temporary and things will be back to normal soon.”

This feels different because it gives me permission to say that I am not enjoying the moving process.  To say that I don’t like it and I am looking forward to it being over.  That feels different than gritting my teeth, barreling through and getting it all behind me.  It feels more gentle.  And more real.

The other opportunity was missing my Thursday post.  You know that this arbitrary, self imposed  deadline means something to me.  But here was another opportunity to practice being uncomfortable.  I missed the deadline.  I was not good to my word.  I am still the same person.

Being ok being uncomfortable is not easy.  All I can do is be gentle with myself and practice.  It’s a process like anything else. There will be progress, relapse and then more progress.  But being aware of the feelings and emotions that come up and committing to the uncomfortableness is key to getting to the place where it comes naturally.  That is the goal.

Over to you.  Is there some muck sitting that needs to be done in your life?  Or have you done lots already?  Do you find it hard to face the parts of yourself that you wish were different?

I am always here if you want assistance turning your life lessons into growth opportunities.  First calls are complimentary.  Hit contact in the upper right corner to set yours up.



Like what you read?  Please leave your name and email below so we can stay in touch. We would love to have you join our party.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /



14 Responses to Sitting in the Muck

  1. Susie Mordoh says:

    Lorna…I LOVE this post!

    I can relate everything from finding the pain and being left to sit in it to being on the court (I’ve played USTA for 12 years) and being in the middle of unsportsmanlike conduct. Sitting in the muck and being uncomfortable is how we grow. We are at our edges and learn that we have a choice in what will be our next step is. Maybe the lesson when you playing in the finals was for you, maybe it was for your friends…but I imagine there was something in there for everyone. What I believe is that we are put in repeating situations until we learn our lessons.

    That being said, we must get on the and hit some day…it’s always safe with me! XXOO

  2. Patti says:

    Bravo, Lorna! I admire your honesty. We all have our cringe-worthy moments. Ultimately, we have to fully forgive ourselves for being human. I tend to obsess over my less than ideal behavior after (hopefully) others have moved on.

  3. Ah, the muck. I’m often found with my head stuck in it, pretending it’s not there. Brave woman to allow yourself to sit with it and feel it! I’m trying, I’m trying……

  4. This was a very meaningful post! And I can totally relate to ALL of it. I couldn’t agree more – that we have to sit in the muck and work through things ourselves, that is how we learn and move on.

  5. Michelle says:

    So this tennis match was something out of a Real Housewives of New York episode? 😉 I was recently addicted to that show. Embarrassing, but true. :-)

    Isn’t moving up there on the stress charts? Close to the top? It’s time to wrap yourself in grace, girlfriend. You are human. *hugs*

    That’s what I do when I’m stuck in the muck. Grace, grace, grace…

  6. Cathy says:

    Ah yes, there are days when I can (somewhat) gracefully sit in the muck, and other days – like today – when a glass of wine or two defer the muck for a day or two. Bravo for staying with yours and owning the discomfort, Lorna.

  7. Lori W says:

    Lorna, it is very brave of you to bare your soul with your readers. All of us have had moments in our lives where we may have said or done something regretful. Life is always teaching us lessons. We learn and grown from the depths of our pain. I hope that writing this blog was a catharsis that has helped you to heal.

  8. Julia says:

    Oh, I can so relate to this post. I also hate confrontation, and that uncomfortable feeling of having a bad situation still hanging over me. Like you said, it’s easy to say I don’t care what others think when all is hunky-dory, but whoa, it’s a whole new think when there’s conflict. I get by with this is only temporary mantra. Thanks for the reminder that it’s okay to sit with those mucky, uncomfortable situations. That’s how we grow.

  9. april says:

    i’m doing a bit of muck sitting of my own at the moment! and it’s hard. and it’s icky. and i don’t like it. and i want it to end. but at the same time, i’m okay with it. as i coach and counsel others, i coach and counsel myself. and, just as you said, lorna – “it is crucial to sit there and feel what needs to be felt.” i was also struck by this sentence: “it is really easy for me to say ‘I don’t care what other people think’ when all is going well.” it reminded me of a quote i heard this morning by c.s. lewis (not exactly the same, but along the same lines): “everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment.”

  10. Dana says:

    Lorna, I love muck, and this post! I have the boots and a shovel too 😉 I am happy to see someone else writing about it. Great process, sitting in the muck. I used to have lots of muck, have taken action and lightened the load.

  11. Cathy Sykora says:

    I love this! Being uncomfortable and sometimes in pain is usually where true growth and progress come from. It is so easy to forget this though and have self-defeating attitudes towards opportunities to grow. I absolutely love your attitude and your outlook coming out of this and that you are the same person no matter how others may think of you. Thank you for sharing this!

  12. Elizabeth MacLeod says:

    Muck sitting. Yeah. I roll in it sometimes and get real dirty!!!! And then I realize, it’s nothing a little shower and a good nights sleep won’t get me through! I have a better shovel than I use to have, but sometimes… I just sit. Sometimes it’s good to know where you are, so you can know where you want to go!!!!

  13. Lois Mariano says:

    Couldn’t comment on this quickly – had to sit with it! Makes me wonder how much I miss by avoiding confrontation the way I do – there’s a price to be paid for being so risk-averse. Thank you so much for sharing this, Lorna. Very thought provoking!

  14. I was sitting in the muck during my trip in NYC. Just for a little while. I am in the middle of a healing process and I find that I am OK with it. Because I know this is where I have to be, to become whole again.

    Thanks for being so open and honest.

© 2013 Lorna Gager. All rights reserved. Site designed with heart and soul by I AM. creative. Developed by SmartMuse Marketing. Photo art by Jo Bryan.