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Why Discomfort is a Poor (Life) Navigation Tool

Navigating Life

As you may or may not know, I have been doing this coaching thing for well over a decade, so I have heard LOTS of excuses in my day (even from the bloke who looks at me in the mirror.

My favourite excuse is: “But it is so hard.” (Often said in a whiny voice)

And my favourite response is to yawn. And then I tell them that they are telling the wrong person. Of course it is hard! That’s how a lot of this GROWTH thing works. And I am sorry, but I did not make the rules of the universe.

If you go to the gym and lift weights that are comfortable, and easy, and not challenging, I am sure you know what the end result will be. You won’t become stronger and your muscle fibers will not grow in size or density. It is resistance, which is generally uncomfortable, which is necessary for physical growth.

I was working with a client recently who they told me that their theme for 2022 was getting better at handling DISCOMFORT. I was so proud of them.

They had realised they generally did not like discomfort and it was probably holding them back from the full expression of their potential and also disrupting their decision-making mastery abilities. Her insight inspired me to write this article. I remember working with another person years ago who had been using the feelings of discomfort to decide whether they were heading in the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ direction in life. Unfortunately they had the concept upside down (or misrepresented). They believed that if the path or choice was uncomfortable, it was feedback they were taking the wrong path.

It has been my experience that the opposite is true 99% of the time.

The feeling of discomfort is more closely associated with GROWTH – whether of the physical, psychological or even spiritual kind. The better we can tolerate discomfort in our lives, the more choices we have before us, and the more opportunities we have for learning and growing. Also known as EVOLUTION.

I have recently decided to dive deeper into the Wim Hof Method. The person behind the method – Wim Hof – is a multiple world record holder for his ability not only to overcome extreme environmental challenges (like doing a marathon in shorts in Finland above the polar circle in temperatures around −20 °C (−4 °F)); but his ability to consciously influence his biochemistry and autonomic nervous system. He has found that by pushing against the discomfort of the cold (for example), the body adapts in a very health-promoting and positive way.

Experiencing the discomfort of an ice bath actually causes the body to become more resilient and the immune system to become more fortified, as observed in a number of scientific studies with himself or with other people he has trained in his methodologies. There is psychological growth and enhanced self-esteem when someone begins to realise just what they are capable of. They start to ask, ‘If I can achieve this and overcome this discomfort, what else am I capable of?’

So don’t let a feeling of discomfort hold you back.

Learn to lean into discomfort and know that it will have long reaching benefits in all aspects of your life. Physically you will be able to do more. In your relationships you will be able to take them deeper, as you overcome the discomfort of difficult conversations. Professionally you will be able to carve your own path, as you become more comfortable with change, or the unknown, or starting something new. Personally you will be able to show up more as your true self, as you might be less influenced by the discomfort of what people think of you. Every element in your life has the possibility for GROWTH if you stretch your discomfort threshold.

But…here is the caveat and an additional something you need to understand and practice.

There is a big difference between DISCOMFORT and PAIN.

Discomfort enables growth. Pain on the other hand can lead to injury (either physical or mental).

I talk often about the importance of CONSCIOUSNESS in the active expression of wisdom, and even when it comes to high-quality decision making. It is consciousness, and conscious awareness, that allows us to understand when something starts to go beyond the realm of discomfort and creeps into the realm of pain, where possible damage can occur.

So my recommendation, in order to use discomfort for growth, is to do it slowly. Play the long-term game. Take smaller – but more conscious – steps when doing something new or unfamiliar. I love traditional yoga, as this practice is one of the teachings in a good quality class. You push against your edges of discomfort, but stay there consciously, so you are aware of whether you have reached your edge, whether you have a little more to give, or whether it is time to back off. And the more you stretch against your edge of discomfort, the greater your physical and psychological growth will become.

Now let me summarize:

  • Discomfort can lead to growth and new opportunities.
  • Don’t use discomfort as the principle determinant of whether you are making the right choice or not.
  • There is a difference between discomfort and pain. Pain can do harm. Know the difference.
  • When you step into or hang out in discomfort you are always best served if you do so consciously (or if you have uncertainty about whether the discomfort is real or imagined, find the right person to give you an external or professional perspective).


It is a much longer conversation than I want to delve into here, but know that most of the discomfort of the mental and emotional kind, is based on inaccurate, false, or distorted narratives and beliefs (I go deeper in The Successful Mind). So my quickest piece of advice on that element of the discomfort journey, is to ask yourself what the story is that you are telling yourself that is causing you to feel discomfort and how TRUE is the story or belief you are holding in your mind. Call it out. Challenge it. Change it.

So what is your relationship with DISCOMFORT like?

Are you ready to stretch your discomfort tolerance levels and open yourself up to not only more growth (physically and mentally), but to new opportunities, as you will be able to do and be more than you were before?

I know you have got this. Happy squirming through any discomfort. 🙂

Sending you lots of good vibes and love as you take the evolutionary journey.

All the very best and take care,

Carl

PS: A random side note. Keep an eye out for my emails as I will probably do a free webinar at the end of Feb on how to become more autonomous, bulletproof, by starting your own business (and the do’s and don’ts along the way).

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