5 Ways to Make Embracing Discomfort Easier

5 Ways to Make Embracing Discomfort Easier

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 You may feel sad, anxious, angry, irritable, scared, worried, annoyed or withdrawn and quiet.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.

Learning To Let Go of Control

Learning To Let Go of Control

“If only I could control what happens then everything would be ok.”

Imagine if you could control how people respond to you and treat you and how things operate around you? Imagine if you could have things exactly the way you want them? Imagine if you didn’t have to deal with this thing called ‘uncertainty’. Ah, what a world that would be?

I know as you read this, a part of you is daydreaming for a brief moment about how good this would be. Although that might sound nice, there are limiting factors to always needing to have control. In fact, needing to have control is actually something that has control over you. 

What do I mean by this? Let me explain. 

When we need to have control over things, we need things to go a certain way in order to feel ok. We tend to be rigid in our approach to things, we tend to be less flexible with others and we tend to be closed to feedback or new ideas. In effect, we close ourselves off from the outside world and operate in a closed loop of our own internal thoughts, beliefs and assumptions.

At a deeper level, we are operating out of fear.

Fear of: 

  • Rejection
  • Being hurt
  • Not being heard or seen
  • Uncertainty
  • Emotional exposure
When we operate out of fear, this is where the fantasy of control ends. When we operate out of fear we’re no longer in control, we are now controlled by our need to be in control.
learning to let go of control
When we operate out of fear, we’re reactive and protective. When we operate out of fear, we’re rigid and inflexible. When we operate out of fear, we often feel powerless. When we operate out of fear we’re at the affect of our blindspots and default negative behaviours. We’re not being discerning or thoughtful. 

What we need most in these moments is not to focus on holding onto control. We need to let go of the idea that control will protect us and make us ok. 

Instead, we need to address the fears that are driving our need for control. We need to face the thoughts and assumptions that are bringing up those fears. And then, we need to bring curiosity, compassion and empathy to that. 

This might also involve: 

  • Having a difficult conversation with someone
  • Making a difficult decision 
  • Trusting that the future is not the past
  • Being open to a different perspective
  • Being wrong
  • Trusting and forgiving others

A simple question you might want to ask yourself to help in this process is “what am I protecting myself from or avoiding by being in control or needing to have control?”

And then, give yourself the time and space to explore the answer to that question. 

letting go of control

This will be the beginning of learning how to let go of control so it doesn’t control you. The more you practice this inquiry, the easier it will get. Slowly, the need for control will ease as you shift to being more present and self-aware to what’s going on for you during challenging situations. Slowly, you’ll learn to address your fears and take the required action that will help you move through them. 

When you learn how to move through your fears and take action in your life, that’s when you get a sense of being in control again. It’s the very thing you wanted in the first place, you just needed to approach it from a different direction! 

The Work of Authenticity

The Work of Authenticity

How many times have you said to someone or you’ve heard it said to you, ‘just be yourself’?

Or, ‘just be you, everyone else is taken’.

It turns out that being yourself is harder than all those quotes say.

In fact, this takes up the majority of the work I do as a coach, supporting individuals to not only be their authentic self but first they sometimes have to find it first.

Why is it hard though? Why do we have such a hard time showing our true selves, saying what we really think, sharing our feelings and admitting our fears?

This is such a huge question and without trying to sound like a great philosopher or even admitting that I have the answer, from a coaching perspective, it all comes down to how we learn to adapt to our life experiences. Human’s are highly adaptable, that’s what makes us successful as a species.

However, it’s also this trait that comes into play when we’re struggling to ‘be ourselves’ or be vulnerable or be more authentic in how we show up in our lives. Ultimately, we adapt our way out of being ourselves as we learn to protect ourselves from being hurt and learn strategies to get our needs met.

And then there’s Jennifer or Thomas, both working professionals, aged 43 and 51 respectively who come to me feeling stuck, wanting to find a deeper sense of meaning in their work and feeling a bit lost with what the next step is in their career (and life as it often happens that way).

This is where the work of authenticity comes in.

Because it is work. 

the work of authenticity article

It’s work to undo or even look at the adaptations you’ve made to navigate your life experiences that have distanced you from your authentic self and/or your values.

It’s work to undo the strategies you’ve developed to protect yourself. It’s work to face the fears you might have found a way to avoid. And it’s work to acknowledge those parts of yourself that perhaps you learned to reject or be ashamed of.

In this article I’m not sharing a ‘how to’ or a ‘5 steps to being authentic’ or any kind of answer on how to do it. I’m simply telling you that it’s work, it’s deep work and it’s hard work.

It’s hard work to be authentic because of all the forces against us to not be, especially as we get older.

So don’t give up the endeavour because it’s hard. Don’t stop the work because you’re afraid of what you’ll find. Keep going, keep searching, keep opening and keep being curious.

Because the gift of it all, of all the work you’re doing is freedom, healing, inner peace, connection with yourself and others, being who you want to be and having what you truly want in your life.