Who said growing was easy?
If you find yourself defaulting to doing things that help you seek pleasure, avoid pain, and be efficient⏤rather than going for new goals in your life, congratulations! Your brain is healthy. Our primal brains interpret new or challenging actions as potential threats and will try to compel us to stay in our comfort zones. Anytime you want to level up your life yet seem to block your own way at the same time, celebrate the fact that your amazing brain is working properly.
This is partly why growing is so hard.
Of course, we don’t want the understandable mechanisms of our brains to keep us where we are. We want to step out and trying new things instead of always feeling safe and staying on our metaphorical couches where we have predictable outcomes.
In my life, I’ve run several half marathons and one full marathon. During nearly every training run and event, I experienced challenges. Whether it was the struggle to go farther than before, a twinge of exhaustion several miles in, or indications of pain toward the end, I chose to keep going. And, man, what a pay-off! I’ll never forget the exhilaration each time I logged more miles than I’d ever run before or crossed the finish line. I learned, in a very literal way, that discomfort doesn’t mean I’m heading in the wrong direction. Being uncomfortable is not a threat; it’s actually the pathway to the next level.
Sometimes the discomforts I face are those that I invite for myself, like training for long distance running events. Other discomforts come at me from external sources. A while back, I heard the author Jack Canfield say a phrase that’s really helped me respond to those outside challenges: “No….NEXT.” This simple declaration helps me navigate past the “no’s” and invite the “NEXTs” when I’m pursuing opportunities. When I get a ‘no’ I just prep for the NEXT…because I trust that a ‘yes’ is coming.
I’ve learned I become more resilient and am able to grow when face challenges and even rejections.
I’ll leave you with an inquiry. ‘What does it mean to be comfortable with being uncomfortable?”