“Lean into the discomfort” is a phrase that’s been popping up more and more in conversations lately. It’s advice that encourages us to step outside of our comfort zones, try new things, and embrace the possibility of failure or embarrassment. But for some of us, that’s easier said than done.

Personally, I’ve always struggled with being a beginner. I want to be good at things right away, and if I sense that I might stumble or struggle, I may avoid trying altogether. But I have learned that my fear is often just my brain’s way of trying to protect me from potential danger. When we’re faced with new or challenging situations, our brains can shift into fight-or-flight mode, diverting resources away from rational thinking and digestion in order to focus on survival, often resulting in a stomach ache, nausea, and over-active fear. It’s up to me to reframe the situation and convince my brain that I’m not actually in danger.

So, when I know I am heading into a situation that might make me uncomfortable, I try to take time to mentally and physically prepare myself by using mindfulness techniques. I take a few calming breaths. I picture myself in the situation. I visualize myself being calm and confident. I create short, positive sentences to counter the negative self-talk that might arise. Sometimes I even tell myself to play, to experiment, to approach the situation with curiosity, to lean into the opportunity for growth. The nervousness and fear of failure don’t completely disappear, but they are managed and reframed enough so I can move forward.

Leaning into discomfort isn’t always easy, but it can be incredibly rewarding. By pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones, we can expand our horizons, develop new skills, and gain a better understanding of ourselves and others. It’s about acknowledging our fears, doubts, and insecurities, and using them as a catalyst for growth and self-improvement. Yes, it may be uncomfortable or even painful at times, but the end result is greater resilience, confidence, and personal fulfillment. So, go ahead, lean in. The discomfort might just be the beginning of something amazing.

Photo image by JohnHain on Pixabay

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