Be Uncomfortable - It's OK


Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Do one thing every day that scares you." What are you doing right now that scares you? Knowing you only live once, what chances are you taking? To do anything scary means accepting discomfort as the norm. It requires developing the courage to choose discomfort over comfort because no one can have both, at least not at the same time. Unfortunately, coasting is what many of us do best. We say we have 30 years' experience but what we have is one year of experience 30 times over. We are okay with that because we are accustomed to average; not rocking the boat; living under the radar. To make matters worse, the world is helping us all stay comfortable by providing the creature comforts we feel we cannot live without; things that keep us as average on the highway to mediocrity. The status quo is readily available to us all - a place that's nice but with no promise of growth. We must commit to embracing discomfort, learning from it, and using the lessons we learn to make us strong.

I recently celebrated another birthday and was reminded once again that half my life was over. And as I age, I am beginning to realize that to accomplish the things that I want to before my time is up, I would need to endure some discomfort. We all like being comfortable. The slightest discomfort can send many of us into a tailspin. We love our comfortable lives where there is little or no turbulence, and we try to do everything we can to keep it that way. A good example is the health directive to wear masks during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Many have refused to wear a mask because it's uncomfortable and have chosen instead to risk their lives and the lives of their fellow citizens. To make this worse, this push-back regarding masks have a lot to do with being Republican and Democrat, in addition to the refusal to be muzzled. As if the virus gives a rat's behind what your political affiliation is.

Everyone wants to be successful but without being uncomfortable. We don't want the virus but we also don't want to follow the regulations that go a long way to protect us. In essence, we do our very best to avoid discomfort at all costs. Unfortunately, where there is no discomfort, they can be no growth or success, so we find ourselves at a crossroad - should we abandon comfort to experience growth? Or should we stay in our comfortable little box and leave things as they are? In reality, amazing things happen when we are brave enough to tolerate discomfort because it is in those times that we open brand new doors.

Discomfort reveals to you who you are. When you learn to be okay with being uncomfortable, your self-awareness grows. You become aware of what you can do and what your limits are. As you understand your strengths and limitations, you start to accept yourself, understanding no one is perfect and that mistakes are part and parcel of success. You are no longer afraid to try even when things don't turn out the way you want. You are still able to show yourself some grace and keep moving forward. You are more willing to take risks, comfortable with not knowing whether you will succeed. It will not matter if the result turns out good or bad, you will learn because you took the risk and bet on yourself, and you will improve for next time.

American runner David Goggins is quoted as saying, "Our whole life is set up in the path of least resistance. We don't want to suffer. We don't want to feel discomfort. So the whole time we're living our lives in a very comfortable area. There's no growth in that." Loving the path of least resistance is all about being comfortable, and the desire to remain comfortable is all about resistance to change.

But life is all about stages and changes, and stepping out of your comfort zone means coping with discomfort along with way. Embracing the uncomfortable allows you to become a master at managing change such that you no longer shy away from it. You start to see growth as a gift and discomfort as a teacher - things that come to improve your life and move you to the next level. When you ignorantly resist change because of the fear of discomfort, you lose the experience gained from going against the grain, facing and conquering challenges, and reaching new heights. The more comfortable you become with being uncomfortable, the more your comfort zone expands as the things that scare you begin to diminish.

The next time you feel discomfort, bear down and go through it. Move out of your comfort zone. Embrace being uncomfortable until you become comfortable. Stretch yourself. Be brave. Being uncomfortable is the route to success.

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