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Remain Uncomfortable

The one thing you learn is when you can step out of your comfort zone and be uncomfortable, you see what you’re made of and who you are.

Sue Bird


While it may not feel like it in the moment, a little bit of discomfort goes a long way in personal development.

Sure, no one likes feeling uncomfortable, but it’s a big part of improving your performance, creativity, and learning in the long run.  Routines may make you feel at ease and in control, but what a constant routine really does is dull your sensitivities.

Think about the times in your life when you’ve driven the same route repeatedly. Then, after a certain number of trips, you start tuning out most of it. For example, have you ever had a trip to the office where you barely remember what happened after you got in the car?

If you don’t get out of your comfort zone, you might find yourself tuning out much of your life daily.

But when you go out of your way to experience new things or let new things happen to you, your body creates brand new neural pathways that fuel your creative spark and enhance your memory.

In one study, researchers tested participants’ memory by showing them images that were rated as novel, familiar, and very familiar. The best results came when people were shown a novel image, followed by a familiar one. So, while repetition helps with memory, mixing in new information is important as well.

That’s why being uncomfortable is something you should embrace. Putting yourself in new and unfamiliar situations triggers a unique part of the brain that releases dopamine, nature’s make-you-happy chemical.

Here’s the mind-blower; that unique region of the brain is only activated when you see or experience completely new things.

Few people actually enjoy the feeling of being uncomfortable.

The challenge is to get past that initial feeling of wanting to return to the norm, so you can grow and benefit from that discomfort.

4 Steps to Managing Discomfort

  1. Get a clear head

When you’re feeling uncomfortable about something, it can seem like there’s a drum beating inside your mind.

There’s no way to make a sound decision when you feel like this, so you need to clear the noise. Of course, the best way to do that is different for every person, but it could take the form of reading, a good conversation with an old friend, or quiet meditation.

  1. Identify the source

It might be completely evident to you what the source of your discomfort is.

What you may not be able to recognize immediately is why you’re feeling the way you are. What is it about the situation that’s triggering the feelings? Are you terrified of rejection from your first outreach email? Are you embarrassed about being on camera?

  1. Reflect

Think about another time when something you did brought up similar feelings of discomfort. How did that play out for you? This is your opportunity to celebrate the small wins you previously had and remind yourself of the growth that came from a once uncomfortable situation.

At the same time, think about those situations where similar feelings and actions led to what you might deem as a failure. As Dr. Martin Seligman, once said,

“It’s not our failures that determine our future success, but how we explain it to ourselves.”

  1. Take the plunge

Many times, there’s so much you want to do.  You have so many ideas you want to explore that you struggle to take action on any of them. That discomfort, fear, or uncertainty paralyzes you.

That’s the point where you start listening to the doubts of yourself and others – and the voice in your head becomes a breeding ground for negativity.

If you feel uncomfortable, you’re ultimately doing something right.

But toe-dipping outside of your safe space never really gets things moving. You need to dive in head-on and fully immerse yourself.

Mark Zuckerberg once said,

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking any risks.”

The Bible

God has a longstanding habit of calling those he loves into difficult situations.

He called Abraham to leave his home and wander around in foreign lands among strangers who might kill him on sight as far as he knew.

He called meek ole’ Moses and his cowardly big brother to stand before the most powerful ruler in the known world and demand the release of the Hebrew people.

He called Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to defy the Babylonian King’s idolatrous command and subsequently be thrown into a fiery furnace—just as Daniel was tossed into a den of lions after God called him to keep praying despite King Darius’ decree.

God also calls us to pick up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23).

The reality is denying ourselves, picking up our crosses, and following Jesus would just be too uncomfortable—so in many cases, we just don’t do it. Instead, we’d rather go to the lion’s den.

But the life of faith and obedience is not a comfortable life.

Living a life of remaining uncomfortable is great for business.  It keeps us on our toes and competitive.  Seek to be uncomfortable.  Get the untapped part of your brain working.

Be uncomfortable daily.

And follow God’s call into His uncomfortable places and situations.