“Life begins at the end of our comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch
How many of you are guilty of eating at the same restaurant, not for the food but because their menu is something you’re familiar with? How many of you are guilty of staying in the same job position for years only because you don’t want to risk leaving a work environment that is familiar and steady?
I understand how you feel because I, too, have been in your shoes. It’s easier to choose a path or situation that we’re comfortable or familiar with because it protects us from the anxiety of trying something new.
This area of safety and relief is what we call our comfort zone. The comfort zone is an environment where we have complete control of what we do, a state that allows us to predict related circumstances and outcomes of our actions. It’s natural to want to stay in this condition because it prevents us from feeling pain, stress, or discomfort.
However, staying where you are and choosing the same decisions over and over again won’t do you any good. Because the truth is, to grow and improve, you need to push yourself past your comfort zone. If you allow yourself to fail and to get comfortable being uncomfortable, only then can you know your limits and the full extent of your capabilities.
But what does it mean to get comfortable being uncomfortable? Below is an in-depth discussion of this principle.
Discomfort is a sensation that may arise both mentally and physically. It can pertain to things like hunger and fatigue, or it can be that uneasy feeling our brain produces whenever faced with unfamiliar or challenging situations. Nonetheless, it’s an inevitable part of life that we should learn to acknowledge and embrace.
One main reason many people choose to avoid being in uncomfortable situations is the fear of vulnerability. Vulnerability is a state often associated by most people with weakness. Aside from the fact that it exposes a part of us, vulnerability can lead us closer to experiencing negative emotions like disappointment and rejection.
But vulnerability is a sign of strength and an important milestone to conquer. Expressing vulnerability in unfamiliar situations is the best way to accept and learn more about yourself, allowing you to gain better confidence in dealing with life experiences.
As previously mentioned, our comfort zone is a place of security where our actions are predictable and calculated. So, to feel less vulnerable outside this controlled area, you need to acknowledge and embrace the unknown.
I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase a million times before, but that doesn’t make it any less true; change is the only constant in life. Change is a natural event that we cannot stop, so the only way to thrive is to embrace it and go with the flow.
Discomfort And Success: Why Do Leaders Need To Embrace Discomfort?
Once you’ve conquered your fear of the unknown, finding ways to reframe your discomfort into something that will cater to your growth is easier. Discomfort is a powerful tool once you learn to overcome its negative connotations, especially if you’re an aspiring leader.
As true leaders, we need to be aware of the importance of our role. The image we project onto others reflects our character and what matters to us. So, if we show people that we’re comfortable with the uncomfortable because it fosters our growth, we can inspire others to do the same.
The truth is success is not calculated by the amount of wealth we acquire in this lifetime; instead, it’s measured by how much we grow as a person based on the experiences we allow ourselves to have.
When you let yourself be comfortable with things you have no prior knowledge about, you have the opportunity to fill a blank page in your life. It’s a chance to fill it with new skills, hidden personalities, new friends, and maybe explore a part of you you never knew existed.
Of course, it’s a scary path, especially since you have no clue how things may turn out. But if your goal is to grow out of your shell, the only way out of it is through a series of unpredictable yet positive experiences. Now that you’ve understood this concept, the next thing to do is to put them into action.
How To Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Understandably, gaining confidence with the unknown is not easy, especially if you’re not used to pushing yourself past your comfort zone. But like any other skill, these things can be learned as long as you believe in yourself. To help you with that, here are some ways to feel less vulnerable when outside of your comfort zone.
Build Your Mindset
The first step you need to take to get comfortable being uncomfortable is to build your growth mindset. Everything we choose to do in life starts with our perceptions, beliefs, and expectations about ourselves and the world.
Our mindset is influenced by many factors, like our upbringing, the people we surround ourselves with, and the experiences we encounter. As a result, it shapes the person we are today and how we handle life’s challenges.
The only way to grow out of our conventional mindset is to realize that the world is bigger than we know. Restricting yourself to a limiting mindset prevents you from having a hunger for learning. Remember, it’s easy to fall back into a routine and continue living the life we’ve known for years, but it also means staying the same person as we were before and not having a fulfilled life.
Make A List Of Things You Want To Do
After strengthening your growth mindset, the next step is to list things you’ve always wanted to do but never had the courage to. It can be as simple as eating an unconventional dish, learning a new skill, or going on solo trips to places you’ve never been before.
Your list doesn’t have to be grand or extreme because what matters is the fact that you’re already considering making them happen. Putting them on a list helps you imagine yourself in these scenarios, building confidence in your capabilities.
Be Proud Of Yourself
Lastly, and most importantly, is acknowledging your efforts in this learning process. Honestly, it’s easy to compare ourselves with others who have achieved more life milestones than us. But the truth is, every person on this planet deals with life differently, which is why it’s not fair to make comparisons.
When we compare our experiences to others, it lowers our self-esteem until we continue spiraling downward and convince ourselves to stop trying. That’s why we should never compare our success with others and instead focus on our path to growth.
Be proud of yourself for the milestones you’ve achieved, and remember that no effort is too small to be celebrated.
Growth Starts With Accepting Discomfort
Many of us spend our lives avoiding discomfort, not realizing it’s one of the most powerful catalysts for personal growth. Life is full of unexpected challenges, and we will never know how to handle uncomfortable situations unless we allow ourselves to go through them. The fact of the matter is, without discomfort, we will never know what it means to live a life well-lived.
When we embrace discomfort and take risks, we learn so much about ourselves. We discover our limits and see just how capable we really are. Life starts getting way more interesting when we step outside our comfort zones.
So, don’t be afraid to let go of what’s familiar and predictable. Take on challenges, try new things, and remember that the best stuff in life happens when we’re willing to step outside that comfy bubble.
Embrace the adventure, and get ready to discover the awesome person you can become!