Finding Comfort in Discomfort

Earlier this week the news broke that Battlefrog would be cancelling all their races meaning I had a weekend free. A few people were commenting on Facebook about trying to find something to do when a comment appeared that got me thinking.

The comment was by Don Devaney, and it said that I need to prepare myself in “being comfortable with being uncomfortable”.

Don was referring to my preparations for an event he’s running in September called the RYNGE. It’s an endurance event like no other and will see me and others step far outside out comfort zones and challenge ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally.

*Update – you can read my recap of the event here*

Simply, your comfort zone is a behvioral space where your activities and behaviors fit a routine and pattern that minimizes stress and risk. Lifehacker

As humans we generally aspire to be in a state of comfort for most of our existence. A lot of us actively avoid being uncomfortable and when we do experience discomfort we try our best to return to a state of comfort.

Don’s words struck a chord with me. They made me realise that I often avoid causing myself emotional and physical discomfort as I’m afraid of dealing with the feelings and pain I would experience.

My way of dealing with discomfort is by withdrawing from it.

I’ve avoided or changed events because I didn’t want to deal with anymore discomfort than was necessary. I have avoided training at times because I knew it would bring temporary physical discomfort to me. I have also avoided certain conversations with people because I didn’t want to feel emotionally uncomfortable.

It’s now time to stop being afraid of discomfort – both physical and emotional. It’s time for me to learn to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

I recently read an article on Lifehack which outlined some basic principles of Stoicism.

Stoicism is a set of techniques to get the most fulfillment out of life and lower periods of sadness or discomfort.

After reading the article I have set myself a new goal – is to do something at least twice a week that makes me uncomfortable. It can be something small like taking a cold shower instead of a warm one, or trying foods that I don’t like.

In July I spent three weeks sleeping on an air mattress in a small tent. For the first few nights I was incredibly uncomfortable, but after a week I’d become used to the situation and didn’t think much of my discomfort. At the time I didn’t think much of it, but now I realise that this was one of the first things I’ve done where I have had to become comfortable in being in a state of discomfort.

By purposefully making myself uncomfortable I hope to redefine my meaning of comfort and in doing so make myself physically, mentally and emotionally stronger.

Go out there and voluntarily seek out discomfort, because one day, you will emerge as an individual who is content with any situation.

(Read more on practicing being uncomfortable here)


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