Throughout my Army career, I had been told to, “embrace the suck,” or “suck it up,” countless times when dealing with frustrating or harsh conditions. For pretty much all of it, I thought they meant the same thing. I finally realized they do not. Both, however, are great pieces of advice. I had meant to write this article on my own blog but I decided to write it for you here instead. This isn’t just advice that can help you if SHTF, it’s advice that could literally change your life.
Let’s break this down.
Preparing for emergencies, disasters, or even SHTF takes several avenues. Most people understand that you need to continually work on:
- Gathering supplies
- Learning survival skills
- Learning how to defend yourself
- Becoming/staying physically fit and healthy
- Building a team you trust
- Coming up with a way to communicate with your team when comms are down
- Coming up with contingency plans
Did you see the most important thing on the list though? It’s preparing yourself mentally.
Sucking it up
Another way of saying this is to just push through the pain. Sucking it up is great advice for most situations, and it’s something that’s kind of an acquired skill. What it basically means is to just quit b*tching and get back to the problem at hand.
It’s what an EMT has to do when they come across a child who was hit on their bicycle or what a soldier has to do when their buddy has been hit and is starting to bleed out. You’ll have the rest of your life to freak out if you need to – now is not the time.
By learning how to become less reactive to stressful situations in life that aren’t so crazy, you toughen your mind a bit at a time. Some things that would freak others out become no problem for you. Things like waiting in traffic due to an accident ahead become less and less stressful and your life actually starts to improve. Eventually, situations that would have been debilitating to you previously become quite bearable.
Now, what does this have to do with embracing the suck and how are they different?
Embracing the suck
Sucking it up means to just deal with the situation even though you really don’t want to. Embracing the suck means just what it literally says – embrace it. When you embrace your loved one, that doesn’t mean you’re just tolerating them or just accepting them, it means you’re welcoming them into your life and your heart. You’re asking them to be a part of you. Not only do you accept the situation – you want it.
Embracing the suck means to put yourself in situations that you normally wouldn’t be in and to push yourself more than you normally would. It’s a mindset. It’s a whole different level of toughening your mind than sucking it up is, and is incredibly powerful.
A lot of people have survived incredibly dangerous situations without the skill or equipment they needed because they just flat out refused to give up. This is a skill that can be learned and improved. It’s a skill that you can master.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should run out and yell at a tornado but there’s nothing wrong with just standing in a rainstorm and enjoying the experience instead of running for shelter every time.
How to embrace the suck in your life
So what can you do to learn how to embrace the suck in your life now and what will happen in the future?
The best way to do this is to start with a few small things and gradually take on tougher and tougher challenges. Here are some examples:
- Take a cold shower in the morning (Hey, you can always follow up with a warm one after).
- When counting how many miles you run or bike, don’t start measuring until you’re ready to give up. Not only will this help you burn more calories and get you into better shape, each foot of that exercise after you would have given up will help build your tolerance for pain.
- Reframe uncomfortable situations such as physical or social discomfort and instead of running away, figure out what you can learn from the situation as it’s happening.
- Look at some of the things on your to-do list that you’ve been avoiding the longest. In many cases, you’re avoiding them because they’re uncomfortable for some reason and not because you don’t have what you need in order to accomplish them. Purposely target one of these things and do it.
- Build in embracing something that sucks into your normal routine. Start with one small thing each day and build on that. Make it a habit and it will become part of you.
- When you’re taking on one of these small challenges that suck, learn to not only push through that discomfort, enjoy the process and the satisfaction of doing it JUST BECAUSE IT SUCKS. Remember, it isn’t about dealing with uncomfortable situations, it’s about becoming comfortable with discomfort.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you start something that sucks and then quit because it sucked more than you could handle. You’ve already started the process by just taking on the challenge. Even though you didn’t finish the goal this time – you’re now just a bit tougher than you were. Find something else that sucks and attack it.
As I mentioned above, this little life hack isn’t just something that could help you deal with some catastrophic event, it’s something that could help you achieve great things in life.
Check out this video by former Navy SEAL David Goggins. He explains this quite well, using personal examples.
Have you learned how to embrace the suck?
How do you deal with uncomfortable or unpleasant situations? Have you learned to embrace the suck? What are some unpleasant situations in your own life to which you could apply this philosophy? Let us know in the comments.
Graywolf is a former Counterintelligence Agent and US Army combat veteran. His experience as an agent, soldier and government contractor on assignments around the world gives him a unique perspective on the world and how to deal with it. His website is Graywolf Survival.