On Tolerating Discomfort

How would your life be different if you could tolerate being uncomfortable?

I heard this question on a podcast, How to Stop Overthinking, and I keep circling back to it. Because really, how would your life be different if you took discomfort as a signal to lean in rather than turn away?

I’m anxious AND I’m going to do it.

It makes me uncomfortable AND I’ll survive.

It scares me AND that’s OK.

Yes AND, you know?

It’s easy to find ourselves trying to systematically optimize discomfort/fear/Resistance/whatever-you-call-it out of our lives, when in reality it’s an incredibly valuable cue. It’s one of the best indicators we have that we’re moving in the right direction.

Because, as I’m sure you know from experience, growth doesn’t happen in our comfort zone. Growth comes from doing things differently than we’ve done them before, and that by definition isn’t going to feel warm and fuzzy.

If you’re seeking growth, you’re seeking discomfort.

That’s an obvious truth, but one I conveniently forget on a, ohhhh, daily basis?

Here’s another one:

It’s only by having the courage to be bad at something that we ever have the chance of being great at it.

All the good stuff—the change we can make in this world—lives on the other side of discomfort. We live the life we’re willing to tolerate. So building up the capacity to be uncomfortable, the courage to do things that might not work, and the resilience to keep going when they don’t is super valuable.

In my own life, I’m increasingly aware of how the desire to keep myself (and others) comfortable is holding me back. And honestly, I’m wondering if my inability to manage that discomfort is why I procrastinate.

Yes AND. That’s the posture I want to move forward with.