If it's uncomfortable, do it.

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Hey, welcome to today’s episode of the show. How are you today? How are you doing? Are you feeling excited about life? Excited about your future? Of what you’ve got going on today, this week, this month? Or maybe you’re feeling kind of neutral? Sort of, “Blah.” Or maybe you’re feeling discouraged? Maybe you’re feeling frustrated? Maybe you’re feeling, “The same shit keeps happening everyday and I’m stuck and I can’t break free. Something’s wrong with me.” Wherever you are, that’s okay.

Welcome, you’re in the right place because I think that as we can grow in our confidence, which is all about what we’re doing here, breaking free of patterns that make us feel anxious, self-critical, self-doubting, and to really show up more boldly, more fully, more freely, then life just gets a lot better. It doesn’t mean you don’t have ups and downs or challenges or things that come out of left field and mess with you or cause fear, or anything like that. It just means that, in general, you feel more powerful in your life, you feel more capable, you feel like you can actually enjoy the things that are going well. Maybe you already have some things that are going well. Maybe you’re in a great relationship. Maybe you have a great job. Maybe your health is good right now. Yet when we’re stuck, when we’re feeling trapped, when we feel like we just can’t be comfortable in our own skin and just be ourselves in certain situations, then it’s just hard to appreciate that stuff.

So my goal here, for this episode, and really for all episodes in this show is for you to get to that place of more confidence, more freedom, and ultimately being more of you. Today is really going to help you with that. Today, in fact, is actually the most direct path to you being you. The title of this episode is: If it’s uncomfortable, do it. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

If you’re enjoying the show, please go to iTunes, or wherever you found it, and give it a five star review. That would be awesome. I’d much appreciate that. You can also go to shrinkfortheshyguy.com and check out show notes there and any links that I mention on the episodes, as well as ask me a question. You could send me a message through there, either audio or like an email. I get those and I can answer those. If you have a question for me, you can get my unique perspective on it in an Ask The Shrink bonus episode, which we have semi-regularly now. So, check that out at shrinkfortheshyguy.com

If it’s uncomfortable, do it. What do I mean by that? Basically, we have a pattern as humans to steer away from or avoid what’s uncomfortable.  Saw this a million years ago when he looked at that people want to avoid pain and they want to experience pleasure. That hasn’t changed. Discomfort is a form of pain, maybe mild, maybe intense. Just look at it in our physical body. We prefer to be at rest. Exerting ourselves, or running hard, or lifting heavy weights, there’s a part of us that’s like, “No, let’s just sit here on the couch. It’s easier.” The same thing is true for emotional discomfort as well. Awkwardness, anxiety, fear, sadness, any feeling that’s uncomfortable, we don’t want to feel it.

In fact, think of this right now: In your life, what are some things that make you uncomfortable? If you think about your work life, interacting with certain people, speaking up in certain ways. What about in your dating life, or your love life? Maybe you’re in a relationship, maybe not. So there will be different things, perhaps. Certain conversations with your partner. Things you avoid talking about with them. Or maybe, if you’re single, approaching someone, having a conversation, going out on a date. What are the specifics? What are some instances that make you uncomfortable? Maybe socially too– Going to a party or gathering with a group of friends? Good. So just noticing, thinking of those things, getting a few things in your mind now. Let me ask you this? Those things that you came up with? Are you doing them? Are you avoiding them?

For most of us, there are things that are uncomfortable and we tend to avoid them. We try to steer our day, navigate our day by trying to avoid as many of those things that are uncomfortable as possible. It’s like an obstacle course. When I was a kid, there was an arcade in our town, in Scotts Valley which is right near Santa Cruz, California. It was called, Special Effects. It was a full-on arcade. It was dark in there with tons of video games and tickets that you could get to trade-in for whatever cheap plastic shit you could get. There was a game there called Tugboat that I loved as a little kid and I would just play it for hours when I was there. It’s a little tugboat scrolling up the screen through a river and you’re dodging logs and other boats. I remember playing that non-stop, “Want to play other games?” “No. Tugboat! Tugboat!”

That’s kind of how we move in our lives. We’re just navigating and dodging all these things that make us uncomfortable. We do it unconsciously. We do it habitually without much thought. And if someone is like, “Hey, do you want to do that thing?” We say, “Nah. I’m not really comfortable doing that. I just don’t feel comfortable doing that.” That’s our reason. That’s reason enough for most people. Just notice, do you do that? What are you avoiding right now because it’s uncomfortable? Good.

Now that you have that, let’s help shift that. So, stay tuned, we’re going to take a quick break. Although now, maybe part of you is like, “Oh, shit. I’m going to do it? Oh, I’m done listening to this episode. Screw this.” No, stick with me because this can transform the course of the rest of your life. I was working with a client (this is what made me want to record this episode) and he started doing this. He very much articulated what I’m going to share right when we get back from the break. An alternative stance rather than avoiding these things. I realized that he was getting it. I was like, “Oh shit. That’s the same thing I did a number of years ago that I still continue to do to this day.” This leads to incredible results in life. I want to share this with you. Stay tuned. It’s going to set you free.

We avoid things that are uncomfortable. We already covered that one. What can we do instead? Well, the key breakthrough happens when we make this shift. When you notice something that’s uncomfortable, and instead of it being a sign to avoid it, that’s a sign that is guiding you towards exactly what it is that you need to do. It seems simple, but I’m going to say it again because our unconscious habits want to do the opposite of that. I want to say it again just to really reinforce it and make it super clear. If there is something that you’re uncomfortable about, that is the sign to go do it.

If there is a conversation you want to have with someone and you’re uncomfortable, that’s a sign to go have the conversation. If there is someone that you’re attracted to and you want to approach them, but that makes you uncomfortable, that’s a sign to go approach them. If when you’re talking to that person you are noticing that you’re really appreciating something about them or want to give them a compliment, and that makes you uncomfortable, that’s a sign to do it. So, it’s not just guiding you once or twice. It’s moment to moment guiding you and showing you exactly what it is that you need to do next– in order to build your confidence. And this is something that I consciously decided I was going to do.

It really comes back to that book you may have read called: Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway. The whole point of that book is: Do the stuff that scares you to get to the results that you want. Now, I thought that was like, “Oh, do a few uncomfortable things so they’re not uncomfortable anymore and then soon it will stop being uncomfortable.” There’s some truth in that but not if you want to keep growing. Because once you reach a certain level, like, “Oh, now I can approach women.” Or, “Oh, now I can speak up in groups.” There’s going to be another level. And to get to that other level, you’re going to have to be uncomfortable again.

You can approach it in two different ways. You can be like, “Oh, man! That’s bullshit. I don’t like that. I don’t want to do that.” And you can resist it and fight it. Or you can say, “Oh, I guess that’s how life is. If I really want to thrive in life, that’s how it works; and if I want to suffer in life and be just okay— getting by but not really alive and really happy— then I’ll avoid all the things that make me uncomfortable.

That’s true on a physical level too. If you avoid discomfort and you don’t workout, or you don’t run because it’s hard, or you don’t lift weights because that’s uncomfortable, and you don’t do any sort of workouts because it’s hard and you don’t like to exert yourself, then you’ll have consequences later on, right? If not already. It’s the same thing socially and interacting with others. If we avoid those things, we will have consequences. We will be lonelier, we won’t have the friend groups that we want. We won’t have the depth of relationship that we want. We won’t have a quality relationship with a partner. We’ll either have no relationship or we’ll have a distant relationship that’s more fantasy or more “looks good on the outside” but doesn’t really feel fulfilling. There’s a lot of those out there. Maybe you’re in one right now.

Those are all signs, those are all symptoms, of avoiding discomfort. So we need to increase our discomfort tolerance. We need to be willing to move into it again and again. One of my teachers, Rich Lifton, who I’ve learned a ton from, says that he finds his direction, his next step, by walking a line between what excites him and what scares him. It’s like a tight-rope and he’s walking right down it. When we do that, that’s how we achieve extraordinary results. Here’s the thing: The rate at which you can do that really determines the rate that you get results. So if you’re like, “I’ll do that one uncomfortable thing now but then I don’t want to do that again for another three weeks.” Well, that’s better than totally avoiding it, but do you see how that’s going to set you up for a very slow pace? But when you start to seek out those opportunities, like a heat-seeking missile, you’re looking for those discomfort opportunities and then you go into them, and you dive into them willingly, “Oh, there we go. Oh, there’s another one. Oh, there’s another one.” If you just keep doing it and doing it, then that’s when you start to get momentum. That’s when you start to get rapid progress. And I’m continually looking for this.

Just recently, I was at a live event, and it was a decent group of people– maybe 60 or 70 were there. I remember when I got in, I didn’t know anybody. I was invited by the person who was running it. He was teaching and he asked a question. He wanted to have a few people share why they were there. I was like: A room full of 70 people. I just got here. I don’t know anybody. I noticed the idea of raising my hand caused my heart to start beating in my chest. I was like, “Oh, well, there’s a sign.” Then up goes my hand. That’s a sign to do it because I felt uncomfortable.

It’s like one of my good friends, Ben Allen, says, “Fear is an invitation.” Fear is just an invitation to go do that very thing that scares you. What would that be like in your life? What if fear were an invitation for you? What would you do? What would you do tonight? Tomorrow? How would your life be different if you consistently started to do what scared you daily and looked for those opportunities to be uncomfortable and then took them again and again? What could transform and how quickly could it transform? It’s worth thinking about.

We’re going to take a quick break and when we get back, I’m going to answer a few of the common responses or challenges that come up when I say this. Some of the things that might get in the way or trip you up. Then we’re going to close it out with an action step.

So, You’ve been thinking about this idea I’ve been introducing it to you. To think about the areas in your life that make you uncomfortable; and to see that as an invitation. Adopting the mentality that if it’s uncomfortable, that’s a sign to go do it, and it’s guiding me to my next step. That’s something that I’ve been doing for years. I still do it to this day. I remember, a number of years back, I was very scared to host live events. So that was a sign that I needed to start hosting live events.

I was uncomfortable, before then, to create a group program. And that was a sign to create a group program. In some ways, that’s what guides me to do my next step. So, right now, one of the things I’m working on is building a larger team because there are way more people that want to work with me than I can work with people, and I don’t want to just keep turning people away. So I actually have coaches that I’m working with now, and people that can talk to people who are interested, to see what might serve them.

We’re building up a larger team, so collectively, we can help more people. That’s uncomfortable, for me, to be managing people, and hiring people, and figuring all that stuff out, and holding accountability, and knowing when someone is not a good fit, and all that stuff. Also letting go of the control of it. I know what I would do with all the people I’d talk to, but now I have to train and trust this person that they’re going to do a great job with this person that they’re going to talk to. So all of that is my own edge. And that’s a sign that I need to do it. That’s guiding me continuously to this day. So I go, “What’s next? Well, I don’t know. What makes me uncomfortable.”

I know that doing it will make me grow, will help me progress much further and faster in becoming the person that I’m meant to be, and will ultimately help me live out my purpose. It’s guiding me step by step. Sometimes, when people hear this, they’re like, “That sounds good, and intellectually, it makes sense, but…” Dot, dot, dot. So, is that happening for you? And if so, what is your “but?” One of my favorite teachers is Sean Stephenson and he has a great book called, Get Off Your “But”, but that’s kind of the biggest thing that blocks us: “But…”

One of the ones I hear a lot is, “Yeah, I want to do it. I want to do what’s uncomfortable, but I just can’t. I want to go talk to that person but I just couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t.” Can’t. Couldn’t. Cant. Not possible. That’s what we are saying to ourselves. We’re saying it’s not possible and that’s total and complete bullshit because we can. If we we’re being fully accurate with our language, we’d say, “Well, I could go do that but I am not willing to experience the emotional discomfort that I might feel doing that. So, I’m not going to.” That’s a hell of a lot more honest, hell of a lot more accurate.

So, when someone says, “I want to but I just can’t.” I would ask, “Do you really want to?” Maybe part of you is convinced that you should but you might not really want to. You might not be at a high level, a level 5 of commitment, willing to do whatever it takes. You just might not be there and that’s okay. That’s okay if you’re not there right now. Just be honest about that too. “Yeah, I want it, but I’m not that committed. That sounds like a lot of work.” Just like you might want a certain level of fitness or certain body but you’re not that committed to getting it. I would want it, sure. Maybe it’s that level. I want it without the effort. I may try a little but I don’t want to put too much in. Here’s the thing, if you’re saying, “No, no, Aziz. I really want to do it, but going up and approaching that person or speaking up in that meeting… I just freeze up. It’s just too intense. I just can’t.” Well, in that case, I’d say, “Okay. If it’s really true. If you’re really committed. What’s your creative solution? Because if you’re really committed to something, we’ll find a creative solution.”

I remember, I worked in a rehab clinic. It’s called HVRP, Homeless Veterans Rehabilitation Program. In order to be involved in there you had to be homeless and addicted to some drug. That was the requirement to get in. And vets, obviously. I did some training there for a year. There was a big sign in the wall when you came in that said: I create what happens to me. And one of the parts of their rehabilitation was trying to help these guys and gals (there were a few women in there too) to see that they were owners in their lives and not victims. Because so many of them had victim stories, and whenever those stories would come up, they’d be caught, and they’d point them out, and then bring them back to a place of ownership. I remember one guy was talking about how there’s this problem with one other person and he couldn’t solve it, and he’d say it was their fault or it was this person’s fault. I remember one of the counsellors there said, “You don’t have a solution? You can’t solve this problem?” The guy’s like, “No, I can’t.” He’s like, “Huh. When you were addicted to heroin and you ran out and you didn’t have any money, did you find a way to get more heroin?” And the guy’s like, “Yup. Damn right.” That was this counsellors way of pointing out that when you really want something, you find a way.

So, what’s your creative solution if you just can’t go do that? One thing I like to ask people is, “Well, what’s the two-pound weight?” If walking up to that beautiful stranger and starting a conversation or standing up in front of the executive of eight people and giving a powerhouse presentation; if that shit makes your legs quiver and that’s too intense, that’s okay. Maybe that’s a 50-pound weight, maybe that’s a 30-pound weight. If you can’t lift that right now, that’s okay. You don’t want to attack yourself. You’re not a terrible person or something. It just means you have to ask, “Well, what’s your two-pound weight? Are you lifting that daily?” Then you can go up to three pounds or five pounds or ten pounds and you work your way up.

So what’s the two-pound weight? Maybe it’s just walking down the street and saying hi to some people. Not even women or someone you’re attracted to. Just anyone. Maybe that’s talking with some colleagues or coworkers one-on-one at work. Maybe that’s speaking up in meetings where there are no big-wigs around and it’s just you and three or four other people, but you just start speaking up. That’s easy, that’s a two-pound weight or a five-pound weight. It’s just a little uncomfortable. That’s how you’ll find your way to those higher levels. In fact that brings us to our action step for today.

Action Step

Your action step for today is to do it. Find what’s uncomfortable and go do it. There are different levels to this. You can do the two-pound weights that we were talking about earlier. Just start making a habit of doing little things that are uncomfortable.

Or you can find a few big things that you’ve been putting off. That conversation with your wife. That conversation with your husband. That conversation with your boss. That asking for a particular raise. Maybe you need to let an employee go. Something that’s uncomfortable. Maybe you need to ask that person you work with, why every time you come in they seem to have a grimace on their face and you wonder if they’re upset with you. Maybe that would make you uncomfortable. That’s one option.

Then the third level if you want to go all out. If you really want to create an extraordinary level of confidence in yourself, it would be to adopt the mentality: “If it’s uncomfortable, that’s a sign to do it.” This client I was talking to, he just pointed out that he had a conversation with a co-worker, he had a conversation with a woman that he was friends with. They sort of dated a number of months ago and now they just talk on the phone as friends. She’s in a different city. He shared things he liked about her and appreciated about her. He also shared some feelings he had from one of the times they were hanging out months ago. That he was hurt or upset by something she did. He shared all that. He had a much more open conversation with his kids who are teenagers. He took down the wall of perfection and shared a little bit more about his own challenges when he was younger and their age. This guy was on a rampage. This was in a ten-day period. You can do that too. There’s nothing stopping you from doing that. And if you do that, man, your life changes in big and fascinating and powerful ways quickly. So choose your own adventure on that front. Whatever it is, you’re on the right path if you just start leaning into your edge and doing what’s uncomfortable.

Until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are, and to know on a deep level, that you’re awesome. I’ll talk to you soon.

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