How to get comfortable being uncomfortable: Pushing past your comfort zone

By Franchesica Bassaw

Picture this: You’re logging onto the computer waiting for your session to start only to start reminiscing on what your therapist told you last week. “Let’s talk about why that made you uncomfortable, is there an underlying fear? If so, what are you afraid of?” You start to fidget in your chair because you know the question is bound to come up again.

Why do we cling to our comfort zones?

The short answer? I’m not quite sure there is ever a simple answer to this question but for the sake of this blog we’ll keep it brief, it’s familiar. Oftentimes throughout life we cling to what’s familiar because of our fear of the unknown. Somewhere along the lines the unknown has become this ambiguous construct that has hindered us from movement in one direction or another. It is a construct that forms in our minds, and it often tells us why we shouldn’t move past the boundaries that we have set in place for ourselves. It can rear its ugly head through the whisper of an insecurity, imposter syndrome, the “what if” this doesn’t work out complex, or even the “I’m not good enough” reel that frequently likes to come out to play. Because of our experiences, our own boundaries that we create become our safety net. Before we know it, we’ve become so safe guarded that once we start to pull apart the layers of ourselves that we have spent so much time and energy focusing on keeping hidden for safe keeping, we begin to get uncomfortable.

Getting uncomfortable is natural and your breakthrough is on the other side.

So, how do you start getting comfortable being uncomfortable?

1. Embrace the discomfort

You’re probably asking, “why would I want to embrace the discomfort?” Well, why wouldn’t you? There’s a reason that your uncomfortable and part of gaining insight and awareness into why you’re uncomfortable is embracing the discomfort. What is it that you’re feeling in that moment? What comes to mind when you’re triggered by a suppressed memory? What do you feel? I like to use the 5W’s: who, what, where, when and why. These questions can become fundamental tools to utilize in the moments of discomfort. Asking yourself these questions can provide context and insight into why you’re feeling what you’re feeling and how to confront the discomfort in sessions.

2. Understanding the inability to feel comfortable can lead to the onset of new growth

Your breakthrough can be on the other side of your discomfort. Dr. Nicole LePera said that “As you grow, some people will meet every new version of yourself with open arms. Other’s will be uncomfortable. Just be aware of it.” New growth often happens at the end of your comfort zone. In keeping that in the forefront of your mind it can help to bring comfort to know that you’re on to something. Pushing past your own comfort zone can be a critical turning point in your journey with therapy. It is empowering to embrace the unfamiliar with the understanding that the in between is where you’ll be able to gain new insight into yourself with fresh eyes and a renewed outlook.

3. Ready to take the leap into the abyss of the unknown? Set small, realistic goals

I always encourage clients to set small, realistic, attainable goals. Why? Because if you’re wanting to take the plunge into your discomfort you need to be able to do so carefully. Plunging in headfirst can seem like a daunting task and be intimidating. Communicate with your therapist the areas of discomfort you’re willing to explore deeper. As you start to feel empowered in those areas, move onto the next. Take it slowly, after all, this is your journey and there is no rush to the finish line.

Remember, pushing past your comfort zone is never an easy task but it is a journey that you do not have to go through alone. Seek counsel and talk to your therapist. There is something beautiful and empowering embracing the unknown and pushing past your own boundaries. There your breakthrough lies.