Comfort Zones & Willful Suffering
You might be familiar with the saying “You need to become comfortable…with being uncomfortable.” The concept behind this is that for growth or improvement to occur one must be willing to go outside of their comfort zone. An analogy to illustrate this would be how most feel when that alarm goes off first thing in the morning. The bed, or comfort zone, is a rather enticing option and a much easier choice would be to go back to sleep over getting out of bed and beginning daily tasks.
I was recently introduced to a concept known as willful suffering in a podcast by Jordan Syatt. Willful suffering is anything mental, physical, emotional or even spiritual that pushes you past your comfort zone. In terms of your physicality, it could be doing an exercise routine or training for a competition. Mentally it could be learning. It could be some other thing to where you are challenging yourself like meditation. Emotionally you might challenge your beliefs, or perhaps you challenge your stance on a topic. Spiritually you could expose yourself to something that you don’t know or just improve your understanding of what you believe.
When we push ourselves
When we go through some willful suffering
We’re going to grow
When we grow, we become who we were meant to be
For many, the hardest part is simply getting started. Recall the analogy of getting out of bed in the morning. I will often tell my friends when doing a group workout to expect the elevated heart rate and mental hurdles of that voice inside your head saying that “this is too hard” or “you should stop.” I have found that if you expect those challenges, you can weather them when they arise and eventually settle in. This applies to physical training, as well as initial experiences trying to stay the course with a nutrition plan.
If you can hang in there, it does get better.
I believe that people need to be a little bit hard on themselves in order to get any amount of success. The key part is in the balance, or how you can apply that pressure without feeling guilty or shaming yourself. Sometimes you need to give yourself some grace. It is truly a “teeter totter” of grace vs. the sacrifice of willful suffering that will allow you to arrive at true growth or change.
I challenge you to ask yourself,
What can you do today to put yourself through a little bit of suffering to push past your comfort zone and become comfortable being uncomfortable?