Why You Need To Get Comfortable With Discomfort and Uncertainty
How much time do you spend thinking about how things will turn out?
When you’re still in the early stages of a project, do you find yourself stressing over the end result?
When you’re watching a movie, do you find yourself trying to figure out the twist at the end when you’re only 30 minutes into it?
It seems like we’re always trying to forcibly push things to a conclusion. For whatever reason, most people are incredibly uncomfortable with uncertainty.
We all do it. We want everything tomorrow: Answers, success, resolution. We push to make things happen now. Later isn’t an option.
We’ve been conditioned to think of our relentless push past uncertainty as ambition - and sometimes it is.
Other times, however, pushing past uncertainty is a result of an aversion to temporary discomfort.
“Faith means living with uncertainty - feeling your way through life, letting your heart guide you like a lantern in the dark.” — Dan Millman
Stuck In The Middle
If you think about it, the middle of any endeavor is usually the most challenging part. The reason that’s true is because when you’re in the middle of something, you’ve already been at it a while - so the beginning looks like a long time ago. Since you’re in the middle, the end goal seems far away, too - so it can feel like you’re just dangling out there in between the two.
The middle of any endeavor is also where we encounter most of the action. There are tons of obstacles and challenges in the middle - and the learning curve is usually as steep as it gets.
Because things get hectic in the middle, it’s easy to get worried, stressed, and fearful. In other words, the middle is where we feel the most discomfort.
Weakness and Fear
There are a couple of ways you can choose to look at discomfort. One comes from a place of strength and confidence - the other from a place of weakness and fear.
When you’re coming from a place of weakness and fear, you see discomfort as an unpleasant condition that you will do anything to get away from as quickly as possible. Including things that will hurt you and make your life more difficult long-term. You’re looking for an easy way out. You may even know that the easy way will do more damage long-term, but it’s a trade off you’re willing to make to relieve temporary discomfort.
If this is how you make decisions in your life, I suggest you step back and reflect on the time and opportunity you’re wasting.
A Magic Pill Society
Huge numbers of people operate from this “short cut” mentality - trying to avoid uncertainty and discomfort.
Why do you think there are so many “magic pill” quick-fix products out there?
How many diet drugs are there that promise miraculous results? How many internet offers do you see titled “The easy way to (whatever)”, “Secrets of fast (whatever)” or some other such garbage?
The reason there are so many of these types of offers is because they sell. They exploit the weakness of people who are unwilling to do the difficult work, deal with discomfort, and live with uncertainty. They know fearful people will fall for promises of fast, easy answers.
Throwing Stones From My Glass House
If it sounds like I’m being judgmental about people who behave that way in the face of discomfort… maybe I am. No, I definitely am. But I think I’ve earned the right because I spent over 10 years of my adult life behaving that way.
If you didn’t know this about me already, I’m not one of those bloggers who only shares personal information with you that makes me look good. (I think doing that also shows weakness, by the way.) If all I do is share things that make me look good, I’m missing opportunities to help people avoid the mistakes I’ve made - and who does that serve? No one.
Not to go too deep into the story, but… I was always a positive, unafraid, risk-taker. From childhood into my 20’s, my attitude was that I could take on just about anything… and I often did. I figured that no matter what it was - if someone else had pulled it off, why couldn’t I? And it served me well. I accomplished what I wanted to for the most part.
Then at some point in my life, I allowed the weight and responsibility of the world, family, adulthood - whatever - get the best of me. I spent most of my time worrying about things that would never happen and, through my inaction, caused far worse things to befall me than the stuff I was originally worried about. It was stupidity and weakness squared.
I share this to let you know that it’s the wrong way to live. It’s bad for you and those you love. And most of all I share this to let you know that if you’re in this situation - you are not a slave to it.
“Uncertainty is the refuge of hope.” — Henri Frederic Amiel
Discomfort From a Place Of Strength and Confidence
Uncertainty and discomfort look totally different from a place of strength and confidence. When I finally said, “no more” to my weakness, worry, and excuses… everything changed. And it’s not because I’m anything special. I’m not. It was just a decision I made about who I was going to be for the rest of my life. You can make that same decision.
When you encounter discomfort, instead of running away from it as fast as you can, stop and see it for what it really is: Opportunity and growth. If you’re in the middle of a project being hit with challenges and barriers, stop and consider the following…
You’re In The Game
Why are you experiencing all these challenges? Because you’re in the thick of it. You’re in the game mixing it up with the big dogs. That alone should bolster your confidence. In the game is a great place to be as opposed to being on the sidelines.
Discomfort Is a Symptom of Growth
When you lift weights and start building muscles, how do those muscles usually feel in the middle of that process? They hurt like hell, right? That means something good is happening. There’s a metamorphosis taking place. Growth is afoot. The same goes for any endeavor in your life. When you are experiencing pain or resistance… something good is happening or is about to happen. Tough it out.
Uncertainty and discomfort are signs that you’re growing, learning, and improving - so why be afraid of them? When they rear their heads, acknowledge them as a sign that something is going right!
In the comments tell us about a time when you encountered discomfort - and how you handled it.