Getting Comfortable with being Uncomfortable

My bonus son, Jon, has opened a Crossfit gym in Islip (

Crossfit is a workout that is constantly varied, functional movement at high intensity.

While going through my orientation with Jon, I weakly asked him to “be gentle with me.”

He said, “Siobhan, you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

As a coach, I know this, but when applied to my physical comfort, well, I was letting myself slide.

When clients move towards their dreams and stretch themselves to reach for bigger goals, resistance is an inevitable and predictable next step in the journey.  Knowing this, we can name it as resistance and create strategies for moving through it.  In this way, an obstacle becomes a hurdle to jump over and not a permanent block to progress.  It also moves the conversation from internal mud wrestling with your inner critic that sounds like this:  “What’s the matter with me?  Why can’t I do this?  I’m such a clutz!” etc.  No!  Try:  “I’m experiencing resistance and need to move through it.”

Entrepreneurs can experience discomfort when trying on new leadership behaviors like delegating to others instead of doing it all themselves.  Other challenges I’ve heard include:  firing someone who is not a good fit, learning to ask questions to develop employee’s thinking instead of telling them what to do, or starting meetings on time and running them effectively.

I’m a creature who likes her comforts.  Safe, comfortable, and pleasant are my default preferences.  But if I want a stronger body, or to reach a new big goal, I have to get comfortable with discomfort.

How do you do that?

Embrace the discomfort instead of fighting it.

I live near the ocean, so the waves offer a great metaphor.  Anyone who’s swum in the ocean has had the experience of being toppled by a big wave.  You are turned upside down, salt water comes into your mouth, sand is in your hair, and your bathing suit turns around in… ahem… unflattering ways.  Yet, if I see the wave in advance, I can dive under it.  And while the feeling is intense for a few moments, I arrive at the other side of the wave intact.  So embrace your discomfort.  Notice how it shows up in you.  What sensations does it offer?  Where do you feel it in your body?  In what circumstances?

Get support.

Any time we are stretching ourselves to grow is a good time to ask for support.  In the case of Crossfit, I can use my coaches and the other members of the gym to spur me on.  In fact, that’s one of the appeals of this gym – the community that’s created.  Can you ask your friends or family to support you?  What does support look like for you?  For some, it’s a regular check-in on progress.  For others, it’s encouragement.  And, of course, athletes, actors and entrepreneurs use coaches to get an outside perspective on their performance.

Identify your fears.

Fear is a normal part of the experience of growing.  It’s helpful to name these bogeymen so we know what we are dealing with.  In Crossfit, I was afraid of pain and of getting hurt.  I learned that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.  If I paced myself, and did exercise suited to my level of ability, I can minimize the pain.  If I took time to go through the orientation, and learned the correct form of the exercises, I could minimize the chances of getting hurt.  I realized that there was a risk of getting hurt by NOT exercising, just by living my day to day life with weaker muscles and less flexibility.

Celebrate your wins.

Acknowledge the baby steps of your growth.  This builds in resilience.  We don’t have to wait until we lose all the weight, or develop all the strength, in order to appreciate that we’re moving in the right direction.  For me, I acknowledge myself just for walking in to the gym and logging in to the tracking system.  Anything I do after that is gravy.

What strategies do you use to move through discomfort?

Thanks Jon for the reminder:  Discomfort is my friend if I want to keep growing stronger.