Getting Uncomfortable

I like my comfort. I don’t like admitting that, but it is true. I literally work to keep things comfortable. I feel like there is some irony there … Maybe there’s nothing wrong with being comfortable. But, you might have picked up that I hold a judgment of myself for living in and working for that state of comfort. Comfort has become a matter of habit, no questions asked and it is getting in the way.

I will say I want to do something, but then continue to back away, put it off or avoid it. I still don’t understand how I can be so at conflict over this when I’m the only one involved. Even though I think I want something, if it makes me move outside of what already is (routines, expectations, you name it …) then it often makes me uncomfortable. You could say, at times, I like the idea of things more than doing those things.

I’m tired of my comfort trumping my ideas, inspirations and hopes. So this year, I’ve started to look for signs that I’m getting uncomfortable and embrace those as signals for when to push ahead instead of pumping the brakes.

Now that you’re at least a bit with me on this journey of getting uncomfortable, I want to share some of my experiences.

First off, lots of things make me uncomfortable. To name a few:

  • Actually sitting down to write this blog post
  • Planning travel
  • Asking an old friend to take a weekend getaway
  • Proposing a new approach at work
  • Asking my wife for something I want. 

By embracing these things that make me want to hide, here is what I’ve started to learn:

  • Getting uncomfortable has meant saying “yes” a lot more. Specifically, it has meant embracing myself in terms of what I want, what I believe and how I want to do things.
  • Comfort is not the same for all of us though.  For me, I’m more comfortable being the easy-going-guy, so getting uncomfortable has meant embracing more of, well not just going with the flow.
  • The next thing I’m learning is that I’ve lied to myself over the years. The lie I told myself is that when I’m doing something I believe in or that I know is right, it will look and feel smooth and easy (or at least I’ll feel confident if it is not easy). Here’s an example from reality though – I recently decided to lead my team at work in a leadership and team building exercise. Team building isn’t the norm at my work and not something I’ve pushed the boundaries on in the past. It felt, well uncomfortable, to step into this. When the day came, I led the group and I’ll even say it went great! But my feeling wasn’t euphoria, ease and “rightness” much less confidence.  I felt like a dork the entire time. I felt vulnerable and I even found myself seeking validation from others. Hoping to hear that they appreciated the exercise and did not feel I wasted their time. Yet, at the very same moment, I knew this was right for me as a leader and for my team. Doing what I feel led to do doesn’t just feel like winning, at least not when it goes against the very things I’ve avoided for so long. That’s what I’m learning though – right action and alignment of your self don’t just fit like the perfect puzzle piece, they can feel like hard work, vulnerability and swimming upstream.

While I describe all this uncomfortableness,  I’ve also learned there’s a difference between doing things I know to be wrong, unhealthy or otherwise off-putting and stepping into those uncomfortable situations that teach and grow me. For example, I would be uncomfortable if a boss asked me to tell a lie or spin a story to cover up a decision. Embracing the uncomfortable does not mean defying who I am at my core. Having clear boundaries has been critical to this path.

I want to finish by circling back to my judgment of comfort. I know now, comfort is not my enemy. Saying yes to the uncomfortable has made it more meaningful when I’ve said yes to the comfortable. But I know growth happens outside the comfort zone and I’m willing to take some risks to find out what I can do.

By Greg Hawkins

Greg completed his initial weekend in 2014 and will complete the Two-Year Transformational program this year. He believes in the power of being vulnerable to foster authentic and courageous lives. He is a husband, dad of two girls, yogi, blogger, and is a director at an industrial supply company. His favorite activities are dance parties with his girls, getting outside with his dogs or horse and date nights with his wife.

Photo Credit: Paxson Woelber via Creative Commons