How Avoiding Discomfort Holds You Back (And What to Do About It)

  • Wins
  • 4 mins read

Ever catch yourself thinking, “This is hard,” “I can’t do this,” or “This is embarrassing,” and feeling like there’s no way you’re going to do “this”? We’ve all been there. It’s that knot in your stomach, that gnawing feeling that makes you want to take the easy route just to avoid it.

Let’s face it—feeling uncomfortable is part of life, and it’s challenging. But dodging all discomfort has become a bad habit for many of us, and it’s holding us back. Our brains are wired to spot discomfort as a potential threat, but most of the time, those threats aren’t real at all. When we recognize this and choose to face discomfort because of what awaits us on the other side, we take charge of creating exactly what we want.

Why Dodging All Discomfort Backfires

In my coaching practice, I see it all the time. Dodging discomfort drains energy and blocks my clients from opportunities, slowing their progress. Most of the time, there’s no real danger—just uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. Yes, those thoughts and feelings can feel intense, but once you allow for them, they lose their grip on you. When we understand this and decide we can handle some because it’s not a real threat, that’s where the magic happens. It’s usually the direct path to what we truly value and the results we want.

It Isn’t Always a Threat

Not every uncomfortable feeling means danger to our safety. Most do not. Often, it’s just our mind reacting to new or challenging situations. These feelings can mislead us. The key is recognizing when discomfort is just a signal of going outside of your comfort zone and deciding it’s worth bearing. This shift in perspective can lead to incredible outcomes.

The Cost of Avoiding

Whether it’s staying quiet in meetings, avoiding tough conversations, or putting off tasks we don’t like, this habit holds us back. When you don’t allow yourself to tolerate feeling uncomfortable enough to make a change or figure something out, you actually increase another more intense type of discomfort – the pain of not creating the result you want badly. 

Everyday Examples of Dodging Discomfort

  • Speaking Up: You have a brilliant idea in a meeting but stay silent, fearing judgment.
  • Difficult Conversations: You avoid addressing issues with colleagues to avoid conflict.
  • New Opportunities: You pass on career advancements because you fear rejection.

Each of these moments is an opportunity for growth and success. By choosing to face discomfort because we believe we can handle it and because what’s on the other side aligns with our values, we move closer to our goals.

Strategies to Handle Discomfort

  • Focus on Your Goals: When faced with a challenging task or presentation, remind yourself why it matters. Keeping your goal in mind shifts your focus from discomfort to achievement.
  • Live Your Values: Identify your core values and let them guide your actions. If growth and contribution are important to you, working through discomfort—like speaking up or taking on challenging projects—becomes a natural expression of your values.
  • Challenge Yourself: Stepping outside your comfort zone allows you to confront exaggerated fears and realize that discomfort is temporary. Each small step builds resilience and confidence.
  • Identify What You’re Avoiding: Make a list of tasks or situations you’ve been avoiding due to discomfort. Understanding the underlying fears—whether it’s fear of embarrassment, rejection, or failure—helps demystify discomfort and encourages you to take action.

How to Manage Discomfort: What You Truly Want is on the Other Side

By reacting impulsively or retreating from discomfort, we often choose temporary relief over long-term growth. Avoiding it may seem like a safe option, but it ultimately leads us away from our desires. Remember, what you truly want is often on the other side of discomfort. Don’t fall into the trap of dodging it. Take small, deliberate steps to acknowledge and move through discomfort, and watch how it propels you toward your goals.

Ready to overcome what’s holding you back? I am here to help you every step of the way. Book a complimentary call with me here and let’s start transforming discomfort into your greatest opportunity for growth.