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The Right Kind of Discomfort

There was a time when I avoided discomfort at all costs. The shift came when the feeling of misery and helplessness set in; the toll of my unhealthy habits created enough discomfort that the only solution became to lean toward the discomfort of change.

It came down to the choice of which kind of discomfort I was willing to tolerate.

Discomfort is valuable information.

We can choose to ignore it in which case it will grow with no reward for suppression.

Or we can choose to respond by inviting the discomfort of intentional change.

Humans crave comfort and familiarity. We're creatures of habit. This serves us well when our habits are working for us and it makes life that much harder when they're not. (The book Atomic Habits by James Clear has helped me understand the science of habit building better.)

As a species, we fear the unknown and would often rather trade the discomfort of change (aka the cost of creating our dreams) for the dull ache of the status quo. The discomfort we know is less scary than the discomfort we don't know.

Eleven years ago when I moved to California was the beginning of leaning into discomfort. This one big leap into the unknown was the bandaid rip that snowballed into a series of small decisions to embrace discomfort.

Getting a big girl job. Quitting smoking. Exercising regularly. Applying to grad schools. Eating better. Working my way through grad school. Making art again. Starting a business. Growing a business.

These were the big steps, but there were a thousand small uncomfortable steps before the big ones were ever an option.

My point? There's discomfort on both ends. If you can get comfortable with the discomfort of intentional change, you're incrementally stepping toward a life and a future self of your design rather than settling for the discomfort of default.

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