On a walk with a friend, we got talking about life changes. We agreed that the unknowns that accompany life changes can be uncomfortable. Yet, the process of moving through that discomfort can make us a better, stronger person.
Especially when there is a major transition in life, there are many questions to be answered and issues to be resolved… and it all takes time to play out. During that time, our thoughts wander into the possibilities; sometimes desired outcomes and other times worst case scenarios.
For example, my friend is getting divorced. There are many things that are up in the air for her right now such as: her financials, where she wants to live, adapting to being single, and even how COVID will affect her job and life. Living with all those unknowns is uncomfortable!
What Does It Mean To Be Uncomfortable?
Feeling “uncomfortable” through life transitions or even less significant changes can mean different things to different people.
I think of this type of discomfort as worrying, feeling anxious, and even ruminating about what might happen. Sometimes people feel physical discomfort such as stomach or back pain. All of that can quickly add up to overwhelm as the process of change plays out.
Worry and anxiety make it easy to wish you could snap your fingers and have all the decisions made so you would know what your new season of life looks like.
Although it would be easier to flip a switch and be all settled in the comfort zone of a new season of life, that would mean missing out on the process of discovering and creating your new season of life.
Instead of feeling like you are in limbo, you’d magically be in your new season – your new comfort zone. You’d know what to expect and settle into a routine.
Granted, not everything in that new routine will be comfortable (i.e. you don’t like your job or want more friends), but it would be familiar and you know what to expect. The discomfort of the unknown would be gone.
Any change, no matter how big or small, positive or negative, is uncomfortable until is becomes familiar.
Bottom line is…
Growth is uncomfortable because it’s all new for you. Give yourself a little compassion, trust the ups and downs of your journey are taking you to the perfect destination, and get support if you need it.Ellen Burgan, Joy Coach
Experiencing the ups and downs, the good the bad, the pretty and the ugly are all growing pains that result in a stronger, better you. It’s like you’re building a muscle that moves you toward making the choices so you can have the life that you want.
The process of sorting through your likes and dislikes, trying and sometimes failing, and learning from mistakes is how you move through fear and become your authentic self who lives with freedom and joy.
The process of going through change and being present with the thoughts and feelings that come along with it is part of growing as a person.
Easing the discomfort by overeating or drinking excessive alcohol is avoiding the issue, and robs you of the growth opportunity that comes with moving through the discomfort.
There is joy in every journey, albeit sometimes the joy cannot be recognized until the journey is complete.
Bottom line is… don’t rush the journey!
Think About “The Journey” This Way
Here’s a quick story that I heard from Abraham-Hicks. The story really helped me understand how important the journey (or the process) is in any life endeavor, and how the joy is truly in the journey.
You take a pottery class, and when you enter the classroom you see a clump of clay on the pottery wheel for you. The instructor immediately asks you to step out into the hallway for a few minutes. When you return, there is a beautiful clay bowl molded for you.
When you took the class, you didn’t just want a clay bowl, you wanted to enjoy the process of learning how to create a bowl from a clump of clay! You wanted to feel the clay in your hands and learn how to use the wheel, knowing that you wouldn’t get it perfect on the first try. Maybe you wouldn’t even like the art of pottery, but you wanted to experience it so you could decide for yourself.
The joy is in the journey means that your experiences as you aim for the destination (or goal) are all as valuable as achieving your goal.
Even the obstacles are an important part of every journey! You don’t just want to jump to the destination, you want to experience all the ups and downs on your way to earning the accomplishment.
How to Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Do you feel that discomfort? Great! If you’re not aware, you can’t do anything about it. You can’t grow from the situation.
Sometimes it takes negative behavior to alert us that we need to take action. Common ones are feeling “out of sorts,” overeating, drinking too much alcohol, using drugs, or being abnormally moody.
In a nutshell, regularly getting out of your comfort zone is how you can get comfortable being uncomfortable. And… taking risks is how you get out of your comfort zone.
If you’re already in the midst of a life transition, you either:
- Already stepped out of your comfort zone and took a risk to initiate the change (yay you!)
- Something out of your control made the decision for you (how you react is your choice)
What does taking risks mean? It means you do something that will move you toward your goals
- even though it makes you feel uncomfortable
- even though you’re not sure you can do it successfully
- even though you’re worried about what other people may think!
Every person has a unique definition of a low or high level of risk. A huge risk for me might only be a small step out of the comfort zone for you.
The higher the level of risk, the more uncomfortable the step will feel. However, more personal growth happens when taking higher level risks!
This doesn’t mean that you need to go sky diving (unless you want to, and then you should) or participate in a triathlon (unless you want to, and then you should).
For a specific life change, go about risks methodically:
- Be aware that you are going through a change in which you are likely to feel uncomfortable. Embrace it and commit to being present and learning from the process.
- Decide on one goal that you want to achieve at the end of this life change.
- Identify the tasks you need to do to achieve your goal. Break them down into small steps.
- Assign a level of risk for each task. A high risk level will be more uncomfortable for you to tackle and you may need more support for those tasks.
- Decide on a timeline for each task.
- Ask a good friend to support you and keep you accountable.
As you continue to practice stepping out of your comfort zone and taking risks, you’ll start to recognize that uncomfortable feeling and know you are about to take step toward improving your life.
You will begin to feel comfortable being uncomfortable!
Find the Opportunity
Here’s a video I made the further discusses the topic of how fear makes us behave:
Transitions are some of the most difficult times in life. Even when we choose them, they can be uncomfortable. When they are imposed upon us, they are even more distressing.
As uncomfortable as it can be to make life transitions (big or small), you can use it as an opportunity to make choices to build a new and improved version of yourself. Leaning into the discomfort rather than avoiding it makes fertile soil for personal growth.
Talk about change and being uncomfortable, I think saying 2020 is enough said! Has anyone not made life changes due to the events of 2020?
I know I’m still wondering what my life will look like when life stabilizes. Even though there are many unknowns, I’m taking as many steps outside of my comfort zone to help me adjust and come out stronger than ever. It’s uncomfortable, and I know that means I’m moving through the change and not trying to dodge it.
I’ll end with one of my favorite sayings we say in ©Fearless Living….
Do what you can, when you can, the best you can.