The Easy Place

The Quest for Self Awareness One Moment at a Time

The Discomfort Zone

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We’re all familiar with our Discomfort Zone.  It’s where we’re stretched, where we’re pushing our edges.  Just the thought of traveling there can make us fearful, and many of us work hard to avoid it.  We try to protect ourselves with a list of  “I don’ts” – “I don’t drive in the city”, “I don’t make speeches”, “I don’t go to funerals”, or simply, “I don’t know how.”

It’s pretty easy to spot the folks who make a habit of avoiding their Discomfort Zones.  It’s the guy who hates his job but won’t look for a new one.  Or the person who ignores a medical issue.  Or the woman who refuses to go to social events for her husband’s work, leaving him to make excuses for her.  

If we go through life dodging our Discomfort Zone our lives get smaller and even, in some cases, shorter.  There are things we need to do to take care of ourselves and manage our lives –going to the doctor when we have those mysterious symptoms, or weathering the stress of interviewing for jobs when we’re out of work.  And there are things we want to do that might require some discomfort – learning a new skill or visiting a foreign country.  

The trick to conquering our Discomfort Zone is to simply go there and stay – not forever, not beyond our limits, but long enough to move past our fears and learn what’s there to learn.  I’ve found the more often I go into my Discomfort Zone the easier it gets.  The feeling of “I’ll die if I have to do this” fades and I gain confidence as I move into the experience.    

It gets easier because much of what we believe about our Discomfort Zone is fiction.  We dream up exaggerated disaster scenarios – the crowd dissolving into laughter as we make our speech, hysteria at the funeral, getting lost forever in the city.  And, fearing we won’t be able to control what happens, we lose touch with the reality that we are capable of handling difficult situations. 

What usually occurs when we venture into our Discomfort Zone is that we do fine.  We even may surprise ourselves and discover we’re better than we thought at navigating the city or public speaking.  But even if our outcome isn’t perfect, even if we’re uncomfortable at the funeral, or give a speech that’s merely serviceable – we still do ok, and that’s often enough to get through the Discomfort Zone.   

What’s important is that we don’t let our fears get in the way of our growth.  That we trust in the fact that the Discomfort Zone is only uncomfortable because we make it so.   

Because yesterday’s discomfort might just be today’s adventure.

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What are you avoiding?  Share Your Thoughts

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3 responses to “The Discomfort Zone

  1. Gail Brenner (AFlourishingLife) September 7, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Hi Melinda,

    I have recently been moving past my comfort zone, and into the discomfort zone. I have had all kinds of beliefs about it – if I do too much work I’ll be overwhelmed and won’t be able to handle it, etc.

    Actually, I am finding it delightful. I am getting more done, doors are opening up – and I take breaks when I need them. I can see that my comfort zone was limiting. Being willing to venture out beyond it has shown me that I can handle way more than I thought I could. You might say the sky is the limit, but at this point, even the sky isn’t the limit. It’s a very exciting time for me.

  2. Pingback: Sitting in Discomfort, II « healingbetrayal

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