October 18, 2020

I have the only skill that I'll ever need. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

You are not delaying doing the dishes. You are not delaying your homework. You are delaying the pain that comes along when you do a boring task. Now you won't.

I have the only skill that I'll ever need. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

I used to have the behavior the same as any other person around you. I would try to pursue some things that piqued my interest in childhood or in teenage, or maybe things that I was forced to do like a particular course in academics, and I would do it, get complacent and anything new doesn't matter how exciting, couldn't move me from the chair of the complacency. But why is that so common? Well, we, humans, don't like to feel uncomfortable. As I've discussed in an earlier blogpost that dopamine doesn't like predictability errors, and everything new is going to be highly unpredictable. We are absolutely fine with working at a company or being in a relationship that is highly toxic instead of jumping ship.

What do you mean by getting comfortable with being uncomfortable

Our lives in general are getting easier than our ancestors. People in urban and even in suburban areas don't really have to worry about wild-animal attacks, we have food available in abundance even though the quality can be questionable depending upon the culture and we have instant entertainment that we carry in our pockets. Still, we are unhappy, depressed, and full of anxiety. Why?

The problem is that because of the advent of technology, modern tools that were built to make our mundane lives easier and to empower us to do better, more advanced, and creative tasks are only being used for the former. If the work can be automated by technology then we are interested in reducing our working hours and spending time on Instagram, instead of keeping the working hours constant and utilizing extra time working on more creative endeavors. If the food is readily available then instead, of appreciating the fact that no matter what there will be food available to eat at the end of the day so, we should exercise to maintain health but that is uncomfortable, so, we end with more food, more fat in the body than required and no sense of fulfillment.

Every discomfort isn't good.

Your effort is never really to experience discomfort, because discomfort isn't what is granting you fulfillment. The striving towards your goals, which is what requires you to enter a state of discomfort is what grants you fulfilment.

For example, let's say you work at a job you hate under a boss that you really dislike. You could put in all the effort that you want but it will never fulfill you because your work there isn't aligned with your goals. The only real way that working hard in that scenario would fulfill you is if it helps towards achieving a goal of yours, like if you got a raise there that would grant you money that could go towards a personal interest or something.

You shouldn't be trying to make discomfort your desire. Discomfort is not what you want. You want to live a certain life and achieve certain goals. Those goals should be your only focus and motivation. The path to achieve those goals is going to be uncomfortable and that's where you need to start seeking comfort.

How to get comfortable with being uncomfortable

Start small because what I'm going to tell you is going to have a snowball effect. So, it'll get easier for more uncomfortable tasks. In 2017-2018, I started to put myself through uncomfortable situations regularly but the criteria for choosing the uncomfortable activity was that it should uncomfortable, regular but shouldn't be too challenging emotionally or mentally. So, I made it a habit to start waking up at 6:00 am every day, no matter which day it was, and the second habit that I imposed on myself was to take a cold shower every day, no matter which season it was. Once you get used to these activities it makes you more confident with anything which doesn't involve emotional challenge. But now let's say you want to do more emotionally challenging stuff, start saying "No" to anything that YOU don't feel you have time to do but was asked by someone close to you. Start giving compliments to others, randomly and both of these activities will make you comfortable emotionally interacting with others. When you'll get comfortable with them, asking for a raise or talking about your boundaries in a relationship won't feel as uncomfortable. Start getting creative about such tiny, regular but uncomfortable activities and impose them on yourself until you start getting confident.

I don't think it is really possible to make the whole class of "uncomfortable things" comfortable. But of course, feeling confident in your abilities will allow you to do more uncomfortable things without being overwhelmed, but they will still be uncomfortable. I'll explain the science and philosophy behind our attempts to escape discomfort in next blog post.

That's it for this blog post and if you feel that you've something to add to this or you have a different perspective then share it and discuss it on r/StoicHuman or go to the Reddit discussion post for this blog post linked down below.

Stay healthy, Stay safe.

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[Discussion Post] I have the only skill that I'll ever need. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. from r/StoicHuman