Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Peter McWilliams, who was an American self-help author once said: ”Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it's a small price to pay for living a dream.” and he is so right.

We all have some kind of discomfort tolerance or a threshold to be uncomfortable. How high that threshold varies from person to person. The higher our threshold, the more comfortable we are with being uncomfortable.

Why is it so important to try to be as comfortable as possible in uncomfortable moments?

Why try to get out of the comfort zone?! (that comfort zone that means something different to everyone, but makes us all think of that place that is "warm" and free of stress or worries.)

There are many situations in which we must feel uncomfortable to develop ourselves, grow, learn and progress. For example, when we were in elementary school we faced this when we had just learned to read and our teacher made us do it in front of 30 colleagues. Or when we were in general school and we had to do and present projects done in PowerPoint for the first time. So, yes! At first, it was extremely difficult for us and we didn't feel comfortable doing these things, because they were new things for us. But time has passed, and we have done these things that were uncomfortable then, and now they seem so commonplace and we face them every day.

If we want to become stronger, we have to lift heavy weights, and this is true both in the gym and in everyday life. Every time we find ourselves in an uncomfortable situation, we start asking ourselves different questions. ”Is this really for me? Am I not smart enough? Will I ever be good enough? Will, I ever learn enough to be able to do this?”, thus starting a real inner struggle. So, if we always stay in our comfort zone and avoid situations where we might fail or be uncomfortable, then there is no way for us to grow as an individual.

Of course, in the beginning, it can be extremely difficult to feel comfortable when we experience new things and this is perfectly normal. But as we step out of our comfort zone and learn from mistakes, we will gain experience and eventually it will become easier. Some people are naturally more comfortable trying new things in life because they have chosen to constantly push their limits and they know what it means to be outside their comfort zone, developing an increased tolerance for discomfort.

Our comfort zone is a beautiful thing, but we will never be able to grow up there! Most of us are afraid to try something new and prefer to avoid change. We tend to believe that life only means creating security. This is true and is part of everyday life, but life is also full of pleasure and pain, satisfaction and suffering, work and rewards, delight and hardship.

As you can see from the image below, if we stay in our bubble, in our comfort zone and make no effort to get out of it, we can miss different opportunities and we risk not discovering the best version of ourselves.

Also, even Martin Luther King Jr. said that “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”. So, I can even say that feeling uncomfortable can be one of the keys to success.

One last essential thing we should learn to do is to distinguish between being uncomfortable and being scared. It is a pretty fine barrier between feeling uncomfortable about something and somehow fearing that something. Being uncomfortable means that we are in a situation where we have to experience new things, things we do for the first time or activities that have an unpredictable end. Instead, being scared involves fear and sometimes even different types of anxiety. We can say that we are afraid of things that can have a fatal end or of activities that can endanger our lives. And of course, in these situations, it's not about getting out of the comfort zone, because it's about something else entirely.

Maybe now, after going through this whole article, you're wondering how to “embrace discomfort”. “Embracing discomfort” will not be easy, but as I said, it is necessary if we want to experience personal growth. The first thing we need to do is realize what makes us uncomfortable, to know what kind of experiences to look for (NOT to avoid!). We have to start taking certain risks, to do things that we are not comfortable with, even if those actions do not result in positive feedback or we do not manage to do them in full. Even the fact that we have the experience to "do" activities that are uncomfortable for us helps to develop the skills to deal with future problems that may arise outside our comfort zone. It's easy to start feeling vulnerable when we're out of our comfort zone, but we must realize that we are not the only people who become nervous or uncomfortable when we face this. I think the best way to start getting out of our comfort zone is with small steps, doing one every day in the direction that interests us. The next time we are in an uncomfortable situation, we should try to stay calm and prevent our mind from getting out of control and, in time, we will be able to overcome any impediment.

We should see our discomfort as a necessary part of growth! Also, the most important thing to retain is that being uncomfortable doesn't mean something bad. Being uncomfortable simply means we're doing something we haven't done before, and that’s amazing!


Articol redactat de Cristofan Theodora.

Articol editat de Minciu Ioana.

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