Shy woman
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The thought of change can make your palms sweat, your knees weak and your stomach turn. Personal growth expert Mike Robbins explains why being uncomfortable isn't necessarily a bad thing when it comes to facing your fears.
How comfortable are you with being uncomfortable? I know this may seem like a paradoxical question, but it's not. In fact, my wife, Michelle, and I recently attended a workshop that emphasized the importance of being uncomfortable in order to expand our growth, success and fulfillment.

I've been taking some real inventory of my own life and looking at how willing (or unwilling) I am to be uncomfortable myself. I notice that in certain areas of my life I'm quite willing to be uncomfortable, but not so much in others.

There seems to be a direct relationship between my willingness to be uncomfortable and how much excitement, creativity and abundance I experience in a particular area of my life (both now and in the past). In other words, the more willing I am to be uncomfortable, the more I find myself growing, accomplishing and transforming. On the flip side, the less willing I am to be uncomfortable, the more stress, resignation and suffering I experience.

Your ego is highly trained at keeping you "safe" and making sure you avoid any and all "risks." However, it's difficult (if not impossible) for you to take your life, your work and your relationships to where you truly want them to be if you're not willing to be uncomfortable in the process.

Being uncomfortable doesn't necessarily mean things have to be overly painful, dramatic or challenging (although sometimes they will be). When you're uncomfortable, it's usually because you're doing or saying something new, you have something important at stake or you're taking an essential risk. These are all beautiful and critical aspects of life and growth. Think of the most important areas of your life, your work and your relationships—I bet there were, and still are, elements of these important things that are uncomfortable for you.

3 ways to make yourself more willing to be uncomfortable

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When you're willing to be uncomfortable, you lean into your fear, try new things and go for them in a bold and authentic way. It doesn't mean you know exactly what you're doing (in many cases you won't). It also doesn't mean you won't fail (which, of course, you will at times).

You have the capacity to be uncomfortable—you've been doing it your entire life (learning to walk, talk, ride a bike, drive a car and do work). However, instead of trying to survive the uncomfortable aspects of life, what if you embraced them, acknowledged yourself for your willingness and even sought out new, unique and growth-inducing ways to make yourself uncomfortable consciously?

Here are a few things you can do to be more willing to be uncomfortable:

  • Take inventory of your life. Where are you willing to be uncomfortable and where are you not? The more honest you can be with yourself about your own willingness (or lack thereof), the more able you'll be to make some important adjustments and changes. Be authentic and compassionate with yourself as you make this inquiry.

  • Identify your fears. There is always a specific fear (or a set of fears) that exits underneath all your resistance. When you're not willing to be uncomfortable, it's usually because you're scared. If you can admit, own and express your fears in an honest and vulnerable way, you can liberate yourself from their negative grip.

  • Create support and accountability around you. The best way I know to challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone is to elicit the support of others and make sure you get them to hold you accountable. There may be important things for you to do that you know will take your life, work and relationships to the next level, but they seem intimidating (i.e., uncomfortable). Getting people you trust and respect to help you, coach you and push you is one of the best ways to make it happen—even, and especially, if you're not sure how or worried you can't do it.

Being uncomfortable is, well, uncomfortable. But, it's one of the most important things for you to embrace if you want to live a life of real meaning, purpose and passion.

Mike Robbins is a best-selling author, sought-after motivational keynote speaker and personal growth expert who works with people and groups of all kinds. Robbins is the author of the best-selling books Focus on the Good Stuff and Be Yourself: Everyone Else Is Already Taken. He and his work have been featured on ABC News and in Forbes, Ladies Home Journal, Self and many other publications.

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