Is Comfort the Enemy of Growth?

Written by on January 28, 2018 in Adaptability, Breaking Barriers

Comfort Zone


Every time I use the term “opportunity for growth” I envision someone rolling their eyes and groaning out, “Enough already, what if I don’t want to grow anymore, what if am perfectly happy just the way I am?!”

Hey, I get it, I am a true believer in the importance of self-acceptance!

But hang in here with me long enough to substitute one word in that declaration and see if this rings at all true for you, “… what if I am perfectly comfortable just the way I am?!”

One of the greatest challenges we will ever face is how to break free when being a prisoner within the walls our self-imposed limitations is the only way we know how to live.

Have You Given in to Comfort?

There’s no question that giving in to comfort may be easier, but by placing limitations on your potential growth it makes you a bystander in your own life.

Our affinity for comfort keeps us eating the same foods even when it risks our health, in a job that doesn’t fulfill us, stuck in self-defeating habits, in front of the TV instead of exercising or reading a book, and it serves as a mighty powerful incentive to overlook the signs of a deteriorating relationship.

There is also the fact that life has a habit of throwing us off balance with unforeseen events – loss of a job, a death or illness in the family, an unexpected move or change in a significant relationship.

It’s usually at these times we are confronted by the walls we’ve constructed to protect our zone of comfort, unfortunately making life transitions far more difficult than they need to be.

I am willing to put myself through anything; temporary pain or discomfort means nothing to me as long as I can see that the experience will take me to a new level. I am interested in the unknown, and the only path to the unknown is through breaking barriers. ~Diana Nyad

How to Make Peace with Discomfort

By its very nature, this process will be unique to each person, but it really isn’t difficult to identify areas that need your attention.

It’s the action you repeatedly dodge, the conversation you keep putting off, and the change you avoid. When you’re ready to tackle your self-imposed limitations, all you need to do is let your fears, uncertainties, and areas of distress serve as your compass.

Following are a few ideas to help you begin thinking about ways to make peace with common areas of discomfort.

You’re Uncomfortable Trying New Things

Go back to school, take a class, learn a foreign language; take up an instrument or a new sport. Any of these activities will allow you to expand your knowledge and overcome discomfort in a rewarding yet unthreatening way because you’ll be surrounded by other people who are also learning something new.

You’re Uncomfortable Asking for Help

This is a big issue for many people. We all need help from time to time, and believe it or not, most people actually enjoy being able to lend a helping hand. Start with something that’s easy for you – like asking for a recipe, or a recommendation for a restaurant.

You’re Uncomfortable Speaking Up

If you cringe at the thought of public speaking, networking or simply joining a group, Toastmasters is a great way to break down barriers in a comfortable and supportive environment.

The groups are small, almost always people who live and work in the area, and they go out of their way to welcome guests and new members. If this feels like too big a step, or there are no groups in your area, you could take a class or better yet volunteer.

You’re Uncomfortable with Confrontations

This is a tough one for many people and worth addressing on its own, but here are the basics.

Define the problem – separate the practical issues from your emotions and craft a statement you can use that expresses your concern without getting personal or playing the blame game.

While this will take some time to master, learning to voice your opinions and concerns will not only help you become more comfortable and less intimidated by confrontations, but it will substantially boost your level of confidence.

You’re Uncomfortable Letting Go

For many people relinquishing control can feel downright painful. One very powerful way to tackle this area of discomfort is to learn to delegate and as an added bonus there’s no question this is a skill that’s critical to business success and a healthy work-life balance.

Keep in mind that it will be up to you to set the set the stage for success in this process by providing clear directions, checking for understanding and defining the desired outcome.

You have to get uncomfortable to take yourself and your life to the next level. It’s all about stretching, growing, changing and stepping up to a new level. It’s not going to be easy and you have to understand that. If you can’t handle getting uncomfortable, you’re going to block the flow and stay stuck exactly where you are. ~Author Unknown

Closing Thoughts

No matter how enlighted, few of us actually enjoy the feeling of being uncomfortable. In fact, if the people in your life are averse to change, they will likely see any attempts on your part to grow as a threat to their own comfort level.

This doesn’t mean you have to cut ties with people you care about, but setting out to build new relationships with people who are positive and growth-oriented will provide you with support and encouragement when you need it most.

You may never learn to fully embrace the feeling of discomfort that comes from pushing the walls of your comfort zone, but you can learn to make peace with it by focusing on the value it brings to your life.

Related Reading:
Will you be the passenger or the driver in your life journey?
About Marquita A. Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click here.


Thank you for sharing!

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