Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

BY Lauren Bridges // Account Director

“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.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the idea that change is what happens outside of your comfort zone, but there are so many other things that happen there, too. You can find perspective, growth, and success, but the hard truth is: you can also find hardship and failure.

A few years ago, I promised myself I’d try to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable. It was a scary promise because the idea of embracing the unknown is stressful and unpleasant, but it has allowed me to grow in ways I otherwise wouldn’t have if I had stuck with what I’ve always known.

Here are some things that I have learned on my journey that I hope can help you with yours:

Embrace the unknown: Welcome in the unknown with open arms. Easier said than done, right? It’s so abstract and intangible, I understand if this one feels a little far away. I’m sure I could dedicate an entire article to this alone, but for the sake of brevity, here are a few places to start: 

  • Release your attachment – let go of the things you hold onto simply because they make you feel secure.
  • Accept imperfection – stop waiting for the ‘perfect’ moment. It doesn’t exist.
  • Change your mind – change your perspective with the things you learn over time. Speaking of learning…

Learn from failure: The scariest part of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is embracing (and crawling out from under) failure. Failure can provide the most significant growth and learning opportunities if you allow it to. If you can perceive failure as a stepping-stone to success, it is much easier to get comfortable and embrace it.

Surround yourself with people you trust: The people who surround you should help build you up—make you feel empowered to face the challenges that can be troubling in life and be there to help lift you when you need support. With the right support system in place, the obstacles in your way start to feel less overwhelming.

Look at the uncomfortable as an opportunity for growth: When you do something you are uncomfortable with, the next similarly distressing problem feels more workable. If you think about the issue as a small hill rather than a great mountain, things that can cause discomfort are easier to manage, and eventually, conquer.

Realize it won’t last forever: The feeling of being uncomfortable is temporary, and as you accomplish each task, you’ll realize it wasn’t as bad as you may have initially thought. Every awkward moment will come and go, and you’ll be better in some way because of it.

Just get started: As with all things, sometimes just getting started can be the biggest hurdle. When it comes to getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, it’s important to just do it. Make yourself a promise and dive in.

Be intentional when you decide not to play it safe. Take the risk that comes with inconvenient or awkward circumstances. If you can do this, you’ll be prepared to handle whatever situations come your way, at work or in life. Remember, sometimes it’s a good thing to feel discomfort because being uncomfortable means you’re moving forward.