If you were polled about your favorite thing to do, chances are you would not say discomfort. Why? It’s no surprise that human nature is to seek pleasure and avoid pain. The trouble is true pleasure is not devoid of pain and all the meaningful good stuff happens outside your comfort zone.
Michael Hyatt, New York Times bestselling author, professional career coach and former CEO of Thomas Nelson publishing company, discusses with colleague Stu Mclaren seven things preventing growth in the discomfort zone and how to overcome them.
1. Not knowing the value of discomfort.
Understand that the discomfort leads to growth. Relationship expert Dr. David Schnarch developed a growth cycle diagram(below) that includes periods of comfort and anxiety. Remaining in the comfort cycle inevitably leads to boredom. Humans thrive when there is novelty and challenge.
2. Leaning away from anxiety.
Natural instinct is to retreat. Melanie Greenberg describes how our brains naturally dislike unpredictability, change and uncertainty. However, over time these feelings of uncertainty become less threatening. Train your brain to value change by putting yourself in situations with an appropriate level of risk.
3. Running from fear.
This is sometimes something that happens unconsciously to us, and we go with the drift of the fear instead of just mindfully noticing it. Feel the urge to retreat and the thoughts corresponding with the feeling. Instead of running from it, become aware of it and go with it. Allow the fear.
4. Overthinking it.
The late Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, former chair of psychology at Yale University, performed extensive research showing that overthinking leads people to remain fixated on the problems and on their feelings about them without taking action.
5. Giving half-heartedly.
Imagine you are going into a cold swimming pool. Michael Hyatt explains putting one toe in at a time is only prolonging the agony. New York Time bestselling author H. Jackson Brown Jr. said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Take the plunge.
6. Minimizing the victory.
Studies show you are more likely to repeat a behavior if you are rewarded. Rewards release dopamine your brain’s internal feel good chemical which serves to reinforce behavior. Celebrate your hard work.
7. Rushing to the next thing.
Actively taking time to pause and reflect on the challenge and success of your experience gives it meaning and becomes an experiential well to draw from for future anxiety provoking events. Journaling is a great way to reflect.
The result: Growth with confidence as a byproduct.
Stuck in a rut? Test your current level of comfort.
Fuller Life is here to help you embrace the discomfort in your life as an avenue for growth.
Clinical Supervision by Amy Fuller, PhD, LMFT, LPC