4 Surprising Reasons to Lean into Discomfort

Posted in News, Insights, Motivational, Next Steps

It’s normal to run from discomfort. We try to avoid the physical, emotional, and mental discomforts of life as much as possible. But avoiding these feelings creates challenges.


This article was originally published in November 2017 and was updated in 2019 and republished.

Four Reasons to Lean into Discomfort, Marshall Connects

In my 32 year career in senior roles, I’ve learned something crucial about discomfort:

Failing to lean into discomfort can stop talented and intelligent people from getting what they want in their personal and professional lives.

This article will help.

When you’re empowered with these four reasons for leaning into discomfort, you’ll be motivated to make the moves you need to propel yourself forward.

#1 | When you face forward you move forward

When you put feelings on the back burner it prevents you from being productive and completing a goal – and the thing is, you will eventually revisit those feelings again.

There’s no escaping them.

If given a choice, it’s natural to take the path of least resistance.

But until you face your discomfort, you will continue to waste your time and energy.

Instead of dodging your feelings, you need to move toward them and eventually work through the discomfort until it’s no longer uncomfortable.

Wondering what that looks like?

Let’s say you’re struggling with a challenge at work - maybe it’s a project you’ve been putting off for weeks.

Don’t walk away from it when you start to feel uncomfortable.

Instead, look at it from a different perspective: could this be a lesson in disguise? Is there something I need to learn about relationships, conflict, money, friends or work? If you still feel like walking away the second time, don’t.

Take a deep breath and try again. You need to break any pattern of walking away.

#2 | The results may surprise you  

When you lean into discomfort and make it through to the other side, you’ll often feel a heightened sense of confidence - armed with the knowledge you CAN do hard things.

A great time to practice leaning into your discomfort is during a workout.

When you think you have done all you can on the treadmill or out for a jog, add one more minute. When that minute is up, add one more.

You may surprise yourself what you can actually do when you don’t allow yourself to take the easiest way out!

#3 | It gets easier with practice

Leaning into your discomfort gets easier as you practice and eventually you don’t even think about avoiding negative emotions. It can become second-nature to do the hard thing because deep down you know there’s something better waiting on the other side.

If you learn how to be just a little comfortable with resistance, you can manage any challenge that comes up.

#4 | It’s okay be feel afraid

Discomfort is a part of life. Trying to outrun what life dishes up just means you’ll be served that same meal over and over again.

Leaning into life’s challenges IS life—it’s what makes you strong and capable and successful. It’s also what makes you a leader.

By leaning into our discomfort and pushing ourselves each time without giving up immediately, we enhance our self-awareness.

We can boil these reasons down to one important lesson: It’s empowering to achieve goals we feel are too difficult. After all, being stretched and challenged only brings out the best in us.


Did you like this post? If you’d like to see more like this, have a look at these articles:

Self Awareness - observing the ripple effect »
The importance of feeling your emotions physically »
How does your drive to achieve influence your success? »


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