The number one thing that gets in the way of learning and growth is our willingness or ability to be uncomfortable.

You’ve probably heard of all these sayings:

  • Embrace the Discomfort
  • Lean in to the discomfort
  • Get our of your comfort zone
  • Comfort zones are most often expanded through discomfort

These all circle around the notion that discomfort is actually a good thing and a necessary thing for growth. It’s through it that we move forward. It’s what we discover while in it that helps us expand ourselves and broaden our perspectives.

Discomfort is a gift if we choose to use it.

But we need courage to go there because it’s a hard place to be, it generally doesn’t feel good. And it’s very personal from individual to individual, we all have our own personal experience with emotional discomfort. That’s why most of us avoid it. That’s why all the sayings above also revolve around gently inviting you towards it.

It’s a good thing, discomfort…but how do learn to go there, how do you learn to lean into it instead of avoid it?

It all comes down to one critical moment when you have a choice, embrace the discomfort and feel the emotions that arise during it or run from it and avoid the experience. Your choice in that moment will determine whether you are contributing to your growth or limiting it.

embracing discomfort

Here are 5 tips to make embracing discomfort easier.

1. Accept the Feelings that Arise

With discomfort comes a range of different emotions that might arise. We may be reminded of an event in the past or we might be worried about something in the future. You may feel sad, anxious, angry, irritable, scared, worried, annoyed or withdrawn and quiet. As your feelings come up, take a moment to acknowledge them and accept them for what they are. By acknowledging your feelings, you’re allowing yourself to accept them too. This is an act of compassion towards yourself which will allow you to be generally more accepting of yourself, giving you more freedom to grow and learn.

2. Tap Into Your Courage

Most of the time the emotional discomfort that comes with personal development and growth are only brief moments, sometimes as short as 7 seconds. I often tell my clients that if you can hang on for 7 seconds, the moment will most likely pass. The thing that will get you through these moments is courage, pure and bold courage. Courage is that force we all have within us that gives us strength in moments when we don’t think we have any. It’s that force that propels us forward when we feel stuck. It’s a gift that we all have within us, we just need to tap into it. By tapping into our courage in discomfort, it gives us what we need to move through those brief moments.

3. Take Action From Your Intuition 

Now that you’ve accepted what you feel and have tapped into your courage, you might have a sense of what the right thing to do is. You might have an ah-ha moment and a new realization. You might now be closer to the truth, your truth. This is intuition – those inner thoughts that are beneath the armour, protection and avoidance. These are the thoughts that arise when when you take a moment to really listen to yourself and what your body is trying to tell you – from your head, your heart and your gut. This is the source of your intuition, when you listen to all three. The key for moving forward in discomfort and starting to use it as an opportunity for growth is to take action from your intuition.  Taking action from your intuition will always move you forward in a positive direction.

4. Acknowledge Yourself For Your Bravery

At this point after taking action from a courageous place you might be standing back reflecting on the situation and most likely feeling relieved and, even though it was tough, you might be feeling pretty proud of yourself. It’s a massive thing you just did, to lean into the discomfort, to choose to be brave, to tap into your intuition. It’s a helpful and positive practice to acknowledge yourself, to reflect back on the challenging situation and give yourself a pat on the back. This inner work, stepping out of your comfort zone is not for the faint hearted, that’s why it’s rare. But it’s deeply important in so many ways and in so many aspects of your life. So make sure you regularly give yourself a pat on the back because you deserve it.

5. Make Discomfort Your Friend

So now that you know how to embrace discomfort a bit more easily and you’ve adopted a new practice of acknowledging yourself, the last thing to do is to make discomfort your friend.

Make discomfort your friend so that it becomes a regular part of your life.

Choose to look at discomfort the same way you look at a close and long term friend that has annoying habits but you manage to look past them and live with them because you deeply care about that friend and that friend deeply cares about you. Because all that discomfort is, is a signal or warning bell letting you know you’re stepping into your growth edges, that you’re expanding yourself and that you’re growing. It’s a positive thing and it’s there to help you grow, just like a good friend.

make discomfort your friend

Embracing discomfort is a hard thing to do, even when we have a strategy or tips to make it easier. It’s supposed to be hard, that’s why it’s called discomfort. But, that being said, just like other hard things, when we have a way through something and knowledge that going through it is worthwhile, we’re more likely to face and embrace the challenge.

Keep leaning in, it’s always worth it.