How to Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

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You can face discomfort and anxiety by changing your relationship to change.

“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.

Many of us prefer the easy road. We possess a natural inclination to stick with the status quo, to resist the unknown, to stay comfortable. It’s tied to our ancestral drive to survive. We’re afraid of trying something new. We want to avoid change, so we don’t push ourselves to the next level. In today’s disruptive and accelerating world, it helps to change your relationship to change and become comfortable being uncomfortable.

We think life is only about creating safety and security and pursuing contentment. These things are important and part of daily life, but life is filled with pleasure and pain, satisfaction and suffering, delight and difficulty. By focusing only on the comfort side of the picture, we cut ourselves off from the full range of human experience—and the knowledge, skills, and empathy that come with the other side.

If you’re uncomfortable with discomfort, you probably run away from uncertainty and change. In today’s world, you can’t run away from change! Everything is in a constant state of flux. Our skin changes, the grass changes, people change-change is everywhere on a moment to moment basis.

When you hide from the tough issues, you may play safe and refuse to take risks. You may steer clear of difficult conversations at home and at work. Afraid of conflict, you may fail to challenge yourself or others, to greater performance and a better life.

To live fully, you must be willing to step into the unknown, now more than ever. Our digital and global world requires it. You must be willing to challenge yourself to grow and change. And change feels uncomfortable for most of us. Your fear and anxiety and discomfort are natural, human reactions to life.

In order to thrive in today’s chaotic world, we must be willing to change our relationship to change and be ready for a paradigm shift. Get Real is one of the practices for becoming more conscious addressed in our books and corporate workshops. We teach people to think of change in a different way. Instead of “change happens to me,” think “making change happen for me.” Accepting that change is inevitable can be a very freeing and comforting thought.

To be effective at navigating change, we must first accept that uncertainty is the reality of the day and we must possess the confidence and personal power to navigate through the change. When you have a high sense of personal power, you believe that you can shape your outcomes, and this gives you confidence and courage to shape change and your outcomes.

When you have low personal power, you question your ability to shape outcomes, or feel you lack the ability to influence others or your environment. Conscious people recognize and accept that change is inevitable and use their self-awareness to assess where they are and where they want to go and use their personal power to get there. Most of us lie somewhere on the spectrum of high to low personal power. Becoming more self-aware and conscious can move us on the way to higher personal power and a greater ability to embrace change.

Tips for Getting Comfortable, Being Uncomfortable and Embracing Change

  1. When experiencing feelings of discomfort, don’t run away from them. Instead, embrace whatever comes up and acknowledge that it is a natural human reaction.
  2. Become aware of what you are telling yourself (thinking) and notice the story you are telling yourself about the situation. Ask yourself: Is it true? How do you know?
  3. Reframe discomfort as a positive source for growth and get curious in the face of the unknown.
  4. When you feel uncomfortable with uncertainty, access your personal Accelerators like courage, connection, and compassion, and manage your Hijackers like being too controlling, too competitive, or pleasing.
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About the Author

Bob Rosen, Ph.D.

Bob Rosen, Ph.D.

Bob Rosen is founder and CEO of The Healthy Leader and author of 8 best-selling leadership books, including Grounded: How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World, a New York Times bestseller, and Conscious: The Power of Awareness in Business and Life, a Washington Post bestseller. At The Healthy Leader, we help develop leaders at all levels to improve their health, well-being, potential and performance.

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