“Sometimes you have to go through temporary discomfort and make temporary sacrifices, in order to get long term success and comfort.” ~ Jeanette Coron
Your long-term personal growth depends on it. As a long-term strategy, comfort is unsafe. It often leads to self-absorption, boredom, and discontent. Personal growth requires discomfort.
Discomfort is defined as a feeling of slight pain, or a lack of comfort. When you feel unpleasantly hot on a 90-degree day, this is an example of discomfort.
Personal Battle with Discomfort
I fully understand discomfort. I vividly recall my experience when I had lost thousands of dollars trying to acquire an $8.9 million-dollar, 30-unit waterfront condominium project. Unfortunately, the deal fell through as I lacked financial resources, business connections, and the real estate know-how to close such a huge deal.
Partners were involved, fingers were pointed, emotions were on fire and I struggled for a very long time to bounce back.
I kept saying to myself that I was unqualified and surely, I felt as though I’d let down my family and all those whom I loved. What an uncomfortable feeling!
The feeling as though you’ve lost and that the opportunity was the last chance. However, despite the crying, financial loss, and doubt I promptly made a tough decision. I decided not to quit on my dreams.
It was then that I realized that discomfort was the perfect soil for change!
Firstly, let me start by defining comfort. There are a lot of words that can be used to define comfort. We’ve got relaxed, ease, satisfaction, relief and also happiness. These are just words that are used to describe the experience of being comfortable and finding your place of peace.
But sometimes we get a little too comfortable in our comfort zones and this is bad for progress.
In life, we are in a continuous search for comfort. We continuously pursue happiness because most times life isn’t cozy and rosy. It usually starts off being bumpy and rocky.
Oftentimes, you find yourself unhappy and filled with discomfort and pains. Nevertheless, it’s up to us to use our periods of discomfort to make something of ourselves and become successful.
While most people see discomfort as a source of discouragement, I see it as a catalyst for change. It’s the engine that drives ambition, fuels motivation and jumpstarts personal success.
Don’t Get Too Comfortable
Have you ever had everything you wished for? Or perhaps you’ve had a perfect day when you woke up in the morning at 10 a.m. You ate chicken and chips for breakfast, enjoyed a pepperoni pizza for lunch, then you relaxed and watched Netflix all day long. Later, you set the town on fire by partying all night long.
Imagine a day like that happening, every day for a month. Just having continuous fun, laughter, enjoyment and all the comforts of life at your fingertips.
Allow me to shar with you what could happen if that continued:
- Firstly, you’re going to start losing money
- Secondly, your wisdom bank will quickly reach zero balance
- Thirdly, you will miss out on so many life-changing opportunities
- Fourthly, you’ll soon discover that you’ve made little progress in your life
- Fifthly, others may observe that there’s a decline in your overall value
- And this list can go on and on….
Discomfort is Key to Your Personal Growth
Have you ever stopped to look at the ants? The ant philosophy suggests that you “keep moving”. The bible says in the book of Proverbs 6:6-11 “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise.”
I think we can learn a lot if we just simply observed these tiny creatures. Ants never give up, they never stop, and they never get too comfortable. Conditions aren’t always perfect for them. Yet, they’re always on the move aiming to be successful, making the best of their discomforts.
While its summer, they’re thinking it’s going to rain one day. So, they’re always preparing for that eventuality by gathering their grains and building their anthills awaiting the rain.
However, when the rain finally comes, they’re still working. I encourage you to be like the ants.
Using Discomfort As Fuel
Allow your discomfort to drive your ambition for change. Do not let it bring you down or discourage you. Don’t feel like you’ve had enough. Don’t get too comfortable with where you’re at and most definitely don’t give up too easily.
Yes, seek a better life and continuously pursue personal growth. Understand that it’s not going to be easy. Personal growth is going to be hard because nothing good comes easily.
You’re going to get frustrated but you can turn that frustration into fascination. Just because things get hard, doesn’t mean you simply quit and just walk away. You’ve got to have stickability – stick around and keep pushing. Stay and become all you can be.
Denzel Washington while receiving an award once said;
“It’s not going be easy. If it were easy there’d be no Kerry Washington. If it was easy, there’d be no Taraji Henson. If it were easy there’d be no Viola Davis. If it were easy there’d be no Denzel Washington. Keep working, keep striving, fall seven times get up eight.”
Leverage Discomfort Skillfully
Uncomfortable experiences help you to grow. When you respond constructively to difficult situations, you become stronger and wiser.
Discomfort can cause you to also build your confidence. Overcoming a challenge confirms that you’re more powerful than you realize. I encourage you to break free from the false limitations that you usually place upon yourself.
Discover your true potential.
Certainly, we can all appreciate that physical and emotional discomforts are a part of everyday life. Most scientists believe that feelings of discomfort are attempts by our brain to keep us safe.
There’s a reason you’re afraid to jump out of an airplane if you are afraid of heights. If you step on a sharp rock, you’re sure to pick up your foot and rectify the situation.
However, dear friend, there are times that your brain leads you astray. Maybe you were like me on the job. There were numerous occasions when I declined a promotion thinking that I was not suitable for the post or lacked the education. In the end, my fears had gotten the better or me.
Undoubtedly, you can feel fear about a certain course of action, even if that action is the best option. It’s also possible to react to legitimate causes of discomfort quite poorly.
Your brain works very hard to limit the amount of change in your life. That’s why change can be so hard. In a similar fashion, your brain will try to prevent you from taking any action that might cause embarrassment or other form of anxiety.
Pass this test! Please don’t let your brain control you; rather, you should control your brain.
Five Ways to Address Discomfort
1) Ask yourself if the discomfort is legitimate. Protecting your family and your earning potential are examples of legitimate concerns. Sorry, but the fear felt before a public speaking engagement isn’t. What do you really have to risk?
- Discomfort can be very limiting if you let it. Asking a beautiful woman out on a date only has an upside.
2) Avoid dealing with discomfort poorly. Suppose you’re stressed about work. It would be reasonable to resolve the situation. If it can’t be resolved, there’s no point in worrying about it. But avoiding worry is easier said than done. What are some common coping mechanisms?
- The use of alcohol and other drugs is an example of a harmful coping mechanism. You may feel better in the short-term, but you’re also risking your health and possibly imprisonment.
- Over-eating is another common coping mechanism. Your health is at risk, but at least you’ll stay out of jail. This is less than optimal.
- Reading, watching TV, surfing the internet, or engaging in another “harmless” activity are also common options. These are merely distractions with little benefit. You’re not hurting yourself, but you’re not helping either.
- Staying fit or exercising are at least healthy choices when kept within reasonable parameters.
- Meditating and problem-solving can actually provide insight into the challenge. You’re taking action and exerting a level of control. This can be comforting.
3) Be mindful. Training your mind to stay grounded in reality is challenging, but very rewarding. You can greatly eliminate worry.
4) Learn to be comfortable with discomfort. You can get used to anything. Some of us are easily swayed by discomfort and cave very quickly. Start small. Learn to accept smaller discomforts and allow them to pass. In time, you’ll be able to handle higher levels of discomfort.
5) Realize that discomfort is a feeling in your body that you created. All the fear and anxiety you feel are nothing more than a few chemicals coursing through your veins. Those chemicals can be effective, but you don’t have to give in to them. Resolve to continue forging ahead.
Your ability to evaluate and manage your discomfort effectively is a prime determiner of success. Many people are successful only because of their ability to do things others are too uncomfortable to do. What would you do if you never felt uncomfortable?
Decide to increase your flexibility. Begin to think creatively to invent new solutions when you need something more than your usual practices. Adapt to changing conditions and find ways to work more effectively and efficiently.
Skillfully apply your strengths. Identify the tasks that you do well and find energizing. Freely develop your own authentic style instead of comparing yourself to others.
Don’t take for granted taking care of your mental and physical health. Treat yourself gently when you’re going through tough times. Enjoy a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and get sufficient sleep. Effectively manage stress and cultivate a positive attitude.
Today, face your Goliath and welcome challenges. Focus on the upside of adversity and look for ways to enhance your abilities and increase happiness.
Yes indeed, personal growth is painful as it attracts much discomfort. But without commitment, you’ll never start. Yet, more importantly, without consistency, you’ll never finish! Simply realize that comfort is a greater threat to hardship than your discomforts can ever be.
If you’re always comfortable, you’re not getting the most out of your life. Comfort is the enemy of progress, freedom, and adventure. Learn to deal with being uncomfortable. Turn the uncomfortable into the comfortable. Escape your comfort zone and have a life free of regrets.
Therefore, keep moving, keep growing and keep learning. The only real change comes from inside of you. So, learn to embrace discomfort, because discomfort is the perfect soil for a change.
- Why are difficult achievements the most satisfying?
- Consider one demanding situation that enriched your life?
- What would your life be like without any challenges?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.