If You're Uncomfortable, You're Learning

The other night, I struggled to get to sleep. I was tossing and turning, nervous about an upcoming meeting at work. I knew the meeting was likely to be contentious, and I would have to step into my discomfort and set a boundary if I was going to get what I wanted. 

Hence, the struggle to sleep. I’m not sure about you, but when I struggle to sleep, I get frustrated with myself. I get annoyed. I wish I could just avoid the stressful situation and get some rest. 

But there was no avoiding the stressful situation. The meeting was coming, and I had to face it. 

Discomfort = Learning

One thing that was helpful for me as I was struggling to sleep was to think about my discomfort in a different way. Instead of thinking about my discomfort as something bad or something to be avoided, I looked at it this way: If I’m uncomfortable, I’m learning

It might seem trite or simplistic, but it really was the truth. I was uncomfortable because I was going outside of my comfort zone. Instead of being the kind of person that just “goes along,” I was going to stand up for myself. Instead of giving in, I was going to confront. Like a muscle that hasn’t been used very often, I was out of confrontation practice. And so, I felt uncomfortable. 

Discomfort is Good

We might think that feeling uncomfortable is bad. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Most of the time in life, feeling uncomfortable is a good thing. It means you are doing something new. It means you are pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. It means you are growing and learning. It means you are alive. 

The next time you feel uncomfortable, and start to feel an urge toward escaping or moving away from the discomfort, STOP. Remember, if you’re uncomfortable, you are learning and growing. This is a good thing. Keep at it and stay engaged. 

By Joshua Hook

Joshua completed his initial Crucible weekend in 2010. He is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of North Texas. Through his writing and speaking, he helps men step forward into healing and growth. Follow Joshua’s blog and download his free e-book ‘A Journey of Healing and Growth’ at www.JoshuaNHook.com

Photo Credit: Harvey Pekar via Creative Commons