Discomfort can be good for you. It can teach you what your limits are. It can also improve your ability to withstand discomfort in the future. It can expand what you know.
What does being uncomfortable mean though? How would you define a situation in which you feel discomfort?
It’s not a black and white situation to be honest. It can’t be answered simply or easily. A safe answer would be “any time you’re outside of your comfort zone.” But that too is hazy, vague and needs to be defined further. Could we include “pain” in the definition of “discomfort?”
Pain is sensory. We feel pain. It hurts. Does discomfort have to be painful? Yes, at least a little bit. Experiencing pain is definitely outside the comfort zone. The next questions would be, What causes pain, and why is it of benefit?
A broken bone is painful. Childbirth is painful. A headache is painful. Stepping on a thumbtack or lego is painful. Exercise is also painful, or can be, but has tremendous benefits to one’s well-being. How is this possible? Without exercise, we lose muscle as we age, and this is deterioration, which can be very painful (I’ve experienced pain from muscle atrophy). However, we can exercise to rebuild muscle. At first it may also be painful, but once we change our habits we start rebuilding muscle and it helps us in a number of ways.
Stress can be emotionally painful. Can stress also be of benefit? Long-term stress has been shown to be detrimental to our health and well-being, but in small amounts stress can help us focus, perform at a higher level than normal, and overcome obstacles that we might normally avoid.
I’ve challenged myself to embrace discomfort more to see if it can help me grow. My areas of focus are exercise, diet, reducing alcohol intake, and trying to embrace and use the stress from my job to improve the quantity and quality of work I produce.
What brings you discomfort, and how can you embrace it to improve yourself or your situation? Comments please.
A few articles for further reading: