Fighting your inner discomfort to grow

We all like to be comfortable. Especially in times when things out there are making us feel discomfort. 

In fencing, we see comfort in all kinds of ways. Fencers learn that certain things work and begin to rely on this kind of parry or that kind of footwork to give them a quick point. It’s possible to make this work for a while, but if you aren’t adapting and growing then it won’t continue to work for long. Staying static is the path to stagnating. 

There’s nothing wrong with seeking comfort in things that make life easier or allow us to recharge. However, there is also always room to push ourselves and improve our lives. Oftentimes we think that we need comfort when growth would actually make us feel better. Fighting the pull towards easing into social media, extra sleep, Netflix, or any other passive routine, does involve self-discipline and expansion. How can we do that?

Reset yourself

When you wake up in the morning, it’s a new day. Every single day is a new day, without exception. You have not ever lived this day before, and so you have room to do things with it that are different than whatever you did yesterday.

For example, if you missed your run yesterday because you didn’t sleep well the night before, that doesn’t mean you’ll miss your run today. If you didn’t practice your fencing yesterday because you were overwhelmed with other tasks, that’s alright too. It doesn’t mean you won’t work on your fencing today. Today is a fresh start and a new chance. 

We should be clear here – thinking that you can make a massive change overnight is a great way to get yourself into trouble. The fresh start of each day does not negate the influence of the habits and routines that you’ve gotten into. At the same time, you are not bound by the things that you did yesterday either. Small, reasonable changes that you can sustain are the way to reset yourself, and the little things add up quickly to a whole life view. 

What we’re really getting at here is that you can be proactive about what you do with your life. A fencer who has been on a losing streak can consciously change what they are doing and get out of that rut. That won’t happen if they are passive though – it can only happen if they actively seek out a change. 

Here are two things to do to help you reset in the morning. 

1. Get out of bed

Just get out of bed. Don’t lie there thinking or looking at things on your phone. Don’t let yourself start to think through all of the things that are ahead of you. As soon as you’re awake, sit up and get out of bed. And then…

2. Get moving

Exercise is really the best reset because it gets us out of our minds and into our bodies. It can be as simple as a morning walk or as intense as footwork drills. Do. Something. 

Think of resetting yourself as your kickstart to pushing past discomfort. Small steps that are simple and easy to access, but everything starts somewhere. You want to poke a hole in your discomfort, not necessarily to punch through the whole wall of your discomfort at once. 

That process of changing yourself? It’s uncomfortable. It’s hard. It’s like walking through high snow or trudging through mud sometimes. Resetting yourself can feel wrong at first, and that’s ok. You have to make yourself uncomfortable in order to get yourself to grow.

Steal the time from the comfort

This idea of stealing time from comfort is something that I happened upon on Seth Godin’s blog, which I highly recommend reading if you aren’t already. His quick thoughts resonate with anyone who needs a boost and some regular positive thoughts. 

We all know that passive indifference that comes with sinking into habits that feel easy. Especially in the world of electronic distractions, we can fall into the trap of feeling like we’re doing something when we’re really spinning our wheels. The endless scrolling is detrimental to our health, though it feels so good in the moment. It’s a false feeling of engagement. 

Real engagement with life isn’t so easy, and it’s almost always uncomfortable in some way. The thing is that you have to trade comfort for fulfillment if you want to live life to the fullest. 

One powerful way to think of this is to think of stealing time from comfort. Kind of like a growth ninja. We’re reaching into time that would otherwise be unproductive and unfulfilling and instead, rushing away with it and making it into something totally different that serves us in a positive way. What’s truly powerful about this is that it doesn’t just affect this one moment. When you learn the trick of being a comfort stealing ninja in your life, you can start stealing comfort and giving it to all kinds of places. 

Pushing your comfort zone further

If you’re ready to push yourself a little further into your discomfort, there are lots of ways to make that happen. Here are a few ideas.

  • Commit to a digital detox – no social media or online interactions outside of work or school for 48 hours
  • Ask your fencing coach for a new technique to work on.
  • Read a book you wouldn’t normally read. Maybe a sci-fi novel if you’ve never tried the genre or a memoir if you’ve steered clear of real life stories.
  • Start a fencing journal
  • Turn off the news for a day.
  • Try a cross-training method you’ve never tried before (running, swimming, pilates, etc.)
  • Listen to a guided motivational meditation.
  • […] – Fill the blanks with your own ideas

Embracing discomfort is a good thing! 

One idea that’s stuck with me is this one – everyone has the same number of hours in the day. You have the same number of hours as Marie Curie or Mariel Zagunis, the same number as Aron Szilagyi or Albert Einstein. It’s all about how we choose to use our time, which is the most precious resource that we have. Whatever an individual’s potential is, it’s only potential until it’s realized through focus and hard work. Someone could have all the talent or intellect possible and never achieve unless they make it happen, every day. We can be intimidated by the possibilities and retreat to our comfort zone, or we can be enlivened by the possibilities and propel ourselves onto the next level. 

It’s all in how we choose to tackle the day, and we are infinitely privileged to have the opportunity to make those choices. Once you realize that, it’s not so hard to push past discomfort!