No one, and I mean NO ONE, loves being uncomfortable. Whether we're talking about the discomfort from sweat dripping down your back in the record-breaking summer temperatures, figuring out what's next after a major live event like divorce, or something in the middle, discomfort is something we'd rather not have at the party, thankyouverymuch.
Discomfort is good for us. It's essential if we truly want to grow spiritually and emotionally.
The Drawback to Staying in Our Comfort Zones
We've all heard the phrase "comfort zone." It's the equivalent of well-worn sweatpants and a bowl of popcorn. Staying in our comfort zone is safe. We know what to expect. There are no surprises.
But as you know, life rarely is without unexpected bumps in the road. As much as you try to hang out in Comfortzonelandia, something is guaranteed to push you out and make you feel things.
As quickly as we can, you scurry back to safety. For me, in the early months of living in Italy, my comfort zone on a day when I was overwhelmed with the bureaucracy of getting settled and speaking the language haltingly was to stay home and pretend I was still in the U.S I would (who am I kidding? I still do this) watch American movies and read books in English. Make nachos for dinner. It felt familiar and good.
The problem with staying in this safety zone is that we never really grow. We stay stagnant. For some, that might be fine. But for me, there's a whole world out there waiting to be discovered. I refuse to limit myself from experiencing more of the world because I'm afraid of stepping out of that comfort zone.
Discomfort is Good for You
When I tell you that getting uncomfortable is good for you, I'm far from alone in believing this. Research shows that discomfort can be a powerful catalyst for emotional growth. It can form new neural pathways that expand the mind.
When my marriage ended, I reread Eat, Pray, Love and Wild. What I loved about these two books is that the authors took a devastating experience (divorce) and found a way to grow from it. Stepping outside of their comfort zones, they traveled and were able to process what their relationships had provided to them and what they wanted moving forward. They came out better and stronger for it.
But they had to get really uncomfortable first.
You don't have to spend a year traveling the world or hiking by yourself for months to step out of your comfort zone and initiate powerful growth. You can simply acknowledge when you're in a situation that makes you want to run for cover and just BE in it.
As an example: if you're grieving and all you want to do is drown that pain in a good Syrah, try sitting with those feelings instead. Question what triggered them. How you're feeling. What constructive thing you could do to make those feelings go away (journaling, for example). When I'm frustrated or sad, I'll meditate. I allow the feelings (HOW DARE HE SAY THAT TO ME?! WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS??) and then I notice when they dissipate. And they always do.
If we were meant to be comfortable every moment of our lives, what fun would that be? Instead, we have to be in that dark night of the soul period and allow it to do what it needs to do to help us become better and stronger.