With the rise of attention on vulnerability, emotional intelligence, becoming self-aware, Brené Brown and Oprah, we have mostly likely heard the idea, "discomfort leads to growth."
In the past six years, I have felt like I am bouncing from one uncomfortable situation to the next - with only small respites of familiarity that come in the form of food or a conversation with a dear friend. I have started-over multiple times, packed up to new places, moved to a foreign country, adjusted back to my home country and all-the-while, I felt uncomfortable.
However, I have realized this emotion must be put in its place. With each situation of discomfort, I become a little more at peace with this feeling. I have learned to push through and recognize it is a part of the human experience and necessary to personal development.
While living in Turkey, I have had some nearly debilitating encounters with discomfort and embarrassment. I have made grave language mistakes while talking with locals, I've run out of a grocery store because I was overwhelmed with choices and I avoided the Turkish post office for nearly four months due to fear of public failure.
But all of us feel uncomfortable in our daily lives, even if we aren't in a foreign country. Situations such as conflict resolution, making new friends, miscommunications, giving a presentation, going on a date or even writing a blog post are all spaces where discomfort can manifest.
Here are couple things I keep in mind when the feeling presents itself:
Admit the Struggle. The first step is identifying the struggle. We all need to realize the stem of the specific insecurities because awareness leads to growth.
Gain Perspective. Is this emotion worthy of winning? Will this moment pass quickly? Do I want to be defeated by this situation?
Engage with Empathy. Focusing on those around us can pull us out of our heads. You are probably not the only one feeling uncomfortable. In my experience, there is always someone else. Talk with them - connect with others.
Welcome the Feeling. Take small steps forward. Let the emotion linger, it won't kill you. Press forward with your goals and don't let emotions win.
But the best mantra I can repeat in my head when I am feeling uncomfortable is, "discomfort leads to growth."
Here is a little snippet of a conversation from the masters themselves, Brené Brown and Oprah:
“What our brain does not take into consideration is the need for discomfort and vulnerability in real relationship,” Brown says.
You may want to sidestep the discomfort, but Brown says that doing the exact opposite is actually what will help you overcome the feeling and rise above the pain.
“It’s he or she who’s willing to be the most uncomfortable can rise strong,” Brené says. “Discomfort: the way home.”
It may be more tempting to lean away from discomfort with “a glass of red wine, or six,” Brené jokes, but leaning in is far more powerful. This is a concept that Oprah articulates back to Brené with just a few words.
“Leaning into it actually helps you eventually push through,” she says.
“It does,” Brené nods. “It can revolutionize the way you live, the way you love, the way you lead, the way you parent. It has completely changed everything for me.”
How do you overcome feeling uncomfortable? Do you find that discomfort has become easier to deal with as you grow older?
Art work by Alessandra Olanow © alessandraolanow.com