Be Willing to Feel Discomfort

My very good friend Micki Allen and I enjoyed a beautiful day the other day. Shopping was the goal but before our adventure, fuel was a priority. As in fuel for our stomachs! We both have been very strict with our new eating habits so we decided to splurge. Pizza – pepperoni to be exact!

As we enjoyed every tasty morsel of our treat, we discussed our new eating habits. She is on a calorie and carb restriction, while I am currently on a calorie-only restriction. I can’t tell you how long it has taken me to get to this point. I shared with her what I learned recently: in order to experience change, you must be willing to experience discomfort.

worry discomfort entrepreneuer challenge
Okay, so who wants to be uncomfortable? No one! We all enjoy being in our comfort zone. For some it’s harder to break out of it than others. Some don’t even try because they know that there will be discomfort, mental angst or even real pain in making transformations or achieving new goals.

For example, Susan isn't happy with her body. She wants to add mass and made it a goal to begin lifting weights. Last year she made the same goal, but she avoided the gym entirely because she can't stand to be seen in her gym clothes. She had real mental angst over what people think of her as she worked out. But this year, Susan decided to be WILLING to tolerate the mental discomfort in order to achieve her goal.

First, Susan scheduled a time to go to the gym. Then she put on clothes she felt comfortable in. All the while her mind is telling her not to go, it's not worth it, you can't do this. She was willing to feel these emotions but continued on with her actions to get inside that gym. Though it was extremely uncomfortable, she forced herself to go inside the gym and worked out. She repeated this scenario over several weeks, until eventually the discomfort was non-existent. Because Susan was willing to tolerate and work through the mental pain, she was on her way to achieving her goals.

Try this simple exercise to get an idea on how to tolerate a little discomfort willingly:

Ask a friend to watch a second hand clock or timer. When your friend says “go,” take in a deep breath and hold it. Hold your breath until you feel the need to breath. Your friend will record the length of time you held your breath.

When ready, take in a very deep breath after your friend says “go.” This time hold it and let the discomfort that comes with holding your breath come and ACKNOWLEDGE it. Try to hold your breath a little longer while experiencing this new uncomfortable sensation, but not to the point of passing out or hurting your body. Then let your breath out.

Chances are you held your second breath for much longer even though there was discomfort. You may gasp or cough for a little bit after, but that’s okay. Guess what? You are still alive, and breathing, and most importantly, the discomfort PASSED! That’s the lesson here: the discomfort WILL pass.

As you build your business, you will continually go outside of your comfort zone. Most entrepreneurs experience discomfort only occasionally because of our personality types. We are known go-getters and achievers and doing new things and disregarding the initial discomfort is just who we are. But there will be one task that you avoid doing because of the “pain” it brings. Step outside of your comfort zone and FEEL and ACKNOWLEDGE the pain. Do it again, until the pain is gone or at a “comfortable discomfort” and you can overcome any struggle.

Alicia White is the CEO of Back of the Room Productions, home of the Speakers Briefcase™, Authors Briefcase™, and The Speaklet™ and North America's first Back of the Room Branding and Marketing Materials Provider. Copyright 2013.