How to Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Woman feeling uncomfortable.

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We all have a threshold for being uncomfortable. How high that threshold is varies from person to person. The higher your threshold, the more comfortable you are with being uncomfortable. However, there are steps you can take to make stepping outside your comfort zone easier regardless of your natural comfort level.

The Importance of Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Being uncomfortable is good for you because we must be uncomfortable in order to grow and learn. For example, if you want to become stronger physically, you must lift weights that are heavy. If you want to improve your writing skills, you should write more often rather than sit at home all day watching Netflix.

If you always stay in your comfort zone and avoid situations where you might fail or be uncomfortable, then there is no way for you to grow as an individual.

The U.S. Navy SEALs are known for saying "get comfortable being uncomfortable" as a way to help team members grow and achieve the impossible.

Why Some People Are More Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Some people are naturally more comfortable trying new things in life; this is the opposite of what is known as behavioral inhibition. However, some people are more comfortable being uncomfortable simply because they have chosen to constantly stretch their limits.

These people are already in the habit of pushing themselves to their limits so they know what it is like to be outside of their comfort zone. These same individuals have an increased tolerance for discomfort because they have become desensitized over time. Constantly facing new difficult situations and learning from them has left them stronger than they were before.

At first, it will be hard to feel comfortable experiencing new situations, but as you gain experience and learn from your mistakes it will become easier.

What's the Difference Between Being Uncomfortable and Being Scared?

What is the difference between being scared and being uncomfortable? Being uncomfortable means that you are in a situation where things are unfamiliar, outside the norm, and unpredictable. In contrast, being scared implies fear or anxiety about something dangerous happening to yourself or others.

You can be uncomfortable without being scared. Being uncomfortable is a normal and healthy part of life that can't be avoided. When faced with something new or different, most people experience some degree of discomfort at first but they usually adapt to the situation after getting used to it.

The key is knowledge and practice; gaining familiarity with any new situation. If on the other hand, you experience intense fear or anxiety in new situations, this could be a sign of a mental health issue that needs separate attention.

How to Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Embracing discomfort won't be easy, but it's necessary if you want to experience personal growth. The first step is recognizing the things that make you uncomfortable and knowing how they make you feel. This will enable you to identify what types of experiences to seek out. Knowing the unique triggers that make you uncomfortable and facing those challenges instead of turning away from them is the best way to learn and grow.

Below are some ways to get over being uncomfortable and embrace this feeling more fully:

Take risks and challenge yourself by doing uncomfortable things

Do something that you're uncomfortable doing, even if it doesn't result in immediate positive feedback or reward. Having the experience of "doing" builds confidence and helps build skills to deal with future problems that may arise outside of your comfort zone.

Try new things like a new food or new activity

Be open-minded and flexible. This broadens your horizons and exposes you to new experiences that can be beneficial in helping you grow as a person.

Explore new experiences even if they are different than what you are used to

Be a student of the world and ask questions. By doing so, you will learn new things and be exposed to different people and backgrounds. This will make your life more fulfilling even if it makes it uncomfortable at times.

Get comfortable with discomfort in social settings

Try being more social and accepting the discomfort that comes with it. Over time, you will become a better conversationalist, learn how to interact with people in different settings, and make new friends.

Take the risk of being rejected and feel the discomfort that comes with it. Taking chances helps you grow as a person. Most people will admire you because they know how much courage it took to take such action.

Get comfortable being different

Embrace standing out instead of trying to be like everyone else. Doing so helps you realize that it's okay not to fit in with the crowd and that there are other people who feel the same way as you do.

Get comfortable challenging beliefs, ideas, or opinions of yourself and others.

Get curious and ask questions. Doing so helps you realize that there are many different perspectives in the world and it's okay to have your own.

Make a list of five activities

Make a list of five things that you'd really like to do that make you uncomfortable. Make a promise to yourself to slowly go through your list and complete the tasks.

Press Play for Advice On Challenging Yourself

Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast, featuring Human Performance Expert Steve Magness, shares how to push yourself to do hard things. Click below to listen now.

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How to Feel Less Vulnerable When Outside Your Comfort Zone

It's easy to start feeling vulnerable when you're outside your comfort zone. How can you feel less vulnerable? Below are some tips on how to feel less vulnerable when you're outside your comfort zone.

Stop comparing yourself to others and focus on your own personal growth

Everyone's at a different level and everyone grows in their own way. How can you focus your energy on yourself instead of comparing yourself to others?

Start small when trying something new

The best way to start is with baby steps, such as taking one step every day towards the direction that interests you. How does this help? It works because it gradually exposes you to a new experience. How can you take baby steps instead of skipping straight ahead?

Tell yourself that other people are also outside their comfort zone too

Everyone's in a different situation, so remember not everyone has it easy. Even though it might look like they do, it's important to remember that everyone is going through their own difficulties. How does this help? If you see someone else struggling you may realize you're not the only person who gets nervous or uncomfortable.

Practice mindfulness and meditation to stay grounded.

The next time you're in an uncomfortable situation, try to remain calm and repeat a mantra that will keep your mind from spiraling out of control. For example, you might choose to say things like "I am safe, I am strong" or imagine your emotions washing away with each wave that crashes onto the shore.

Do activities with a friend or get some practice

How can you make your list of five activities more comfortable? For some, it is as simple as doing them with a friend. Others may need practice beforehand or at least know how they work to feel more comfortable. In other words, get support or do some research.

A Word From Verywell

While it's important to push outside your comfort zone, if you are feeling extremely uncomfortable or afraid, it might be best to back off for a little while. For some people, anxiety can be debilitating. If you experience severe anxiety or fear, this could be a sign of an anxiety disorder, which requires professional treatment. See your healthcare provider if you are concerned that your fear or anxiety is more than you can handle.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Sof E. 9 Navy SEAL quotes to improve your live. Spec Ops Magazine.

  2. Kampman O, Viikki M, Leinonen E. Anxiety Disorders and Temperament-an Update Review. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2017;19(5):27. doi:10.1007/s11920-017-0779-5

By Arlin Cuncic, MA
Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." She has a Master's degree in psychology.