Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

When is the last time you tried doing something that made you feel uncomfortable?  Really, that long ago!  First of all, it is really normal to feel apprehensive about trying new things or facing challenges.  So, what is stopping us, and better yet, what are the benefits of trying new and different things?

We all like predictability in life, and things are certainly more predictable with the things we know. But what about the unknown?  Last week, I ventured into the unknown and took a paddle board yoga class.  Please don’t roll your eyes and think, just how uncomfortable is taking a paddle board yoga class?  After all, I am a certified yoga teacher (200 RYT) and used to swim a mile 3-4 time a week for 25+ years.  Therefore, I should be a natural at practicing yoga on the water.  Well, here is what I learned: balancing on a paddle board and moving into various yoga poses is hard as sh&$!!!  My take away…..I was very uncomfortable not being able to balance on the board and sink into poses that I know like the back of my hand.

Doing things that make us uncomfortable feels a bit off-balance and we fear losing our footing—literally and figuratively during my recent class!  Being off-balance was a bit scary and fun all at the same time. I was scared of falling, looking foolish, and not being an accomplished yogi.  I longed for having my feet on terra firma and having a “normal” yoga practice, and yet I kept trying.

Ok, you don’t have to try paddle board yoga to get out of your comfort zone.  I was reading an article the other day that said one thing that makes many people uncomfortable is accepting a compliment.  I thought that was crazy and figured that everyone loves getting a compliment.  It turns out that most people feel uncomfortable getting and even worse acknowledging a compliment.  When receiving a compliment, many of us go blank, babble a meaningless response, or give a self-deprecating response (guilty).  I am not going to suggest how best to respond to a compliment, but I do want you to think about the simple things in life that make you feel uncomfortable or off-balance.

The things that make you uncomfortable can be as simple as cooking for friends, striking up a conversation with a stranger on an elevator, public speaking, or perhaps going skydiving or scuba diving (ha, I got certified to dive three years ago and I still have some apprehension on almost every dive I take—but I keep doing it). The real point about breaking through our fears is breaking down our resistance.  Yes, we have resistance to new things or change.  That resistance turns out to be this story we keep telling ourselves, and the funny thing is that we have trained ourselves to actually believe that story.  Now, we are getting somewhere!!

Resistance is simply your mind attempting to prevent something from happening.  Well, if your resistance is about skydiving (why would you want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane?), I get it, but what about simple everyday stuff?  Why not learn how to get comfortable and overcome the resistance we create?  It is pretty easy, and the best part is you can’t fail—yes, that is right.  Now, you may never become good at paddle board yoga or public speaking, but the first step is the most important step; you tried and got out of your comfort zone. You did something that made you feel uncomfortable and better yet, you survived the experience.  I think it was Wayne Gretzky who said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  So, try taking a deep breath and breathe in confidence, and when you exhale, let resistance and barriers seep out of your lungs.  Realize that doing something that makes you feel uncomfortable will allow you to expand your horizons and see the world a little differently.

I said that I get a bit nervous every time I go scuba diving, and you might wonder why I keep doing it?  I go diving because once I am underwater, feeling weightless, I begin to see a landscape that is so foreign to my eyes, it is like being on a different planet. I totally see the world differently at 60 ft below the surface.  By overcoming my resistance and fears, I get to experience things that I could only imagine or watch on Shark Week Discovery Channel.  Whatever barrier you break seeking that zone of discomfort will give you new perspective.  Once you get comfortable with breaking through your resistance, and you build the confidence to try it again, you won’t worry about missing any of the shots you take. Why, because you may realize that by just trying something, or taking the shot, you are succeeding!

Try doing something that makes you feel uncomfortable—something big or small. Stop telling yourself stories that create resistance and see new things in the world and all they have to offer. You will feel stronger and more confident—not a bad benefit at all!  Being off-balance on the paddle board reminded me that I need to keep trying things that I resist to experience real growth; a great lesson and I did not fall off the board once.  I still will NEVER jump out of a plane:-)