We all know of certain situations in life that make us nervous. No matter how we prepare for them we always find ourselves becoming anxious and stressed out. These situations could be anything from going to the doctor’s office to having a meeting with your boss at work. In this article I want to discuss something known as a ‘comfort challenge’ and how this amazing strategy can help you overcome your worst fears and insecurities.
Here’s a fact that I’ve come to realize in my own life: If you want to become comfortable in situations that usually make you nervous, then you need to deal with some serious discomfort for a while.
In other words, putting yourself directly into situations that make you extremely uncomfortable is the only way to truly get over them and make any progress towards overcoming your nervousness, worry and stress. In today’s society where everyone wants the quickest and easiest fix possible, this idea doesn’t usually flourish. Avoidance of the problem(s) usually requires the least effort, so it makes it seem like the top choice. The problem with this way of doing things is that it sets a very bad precedent for the rest of your life and the other uncomfortable situations that will come in the future (and yes, they will come).
I’ll share an example from my life.
I used to be completely terrified of calling people on the phone. If the person I was calling was a close friend then it was fine, but if it was someone I did not know then I would get extremely nervous. I would do almost anything to get out of having to make a phone call to someone if I did not know them well. This went on for quite a few years.
I finally decided that enough was enough and I was going to get over this issue. The new job I had just gotten required making phone calls to people so I really had no choice but to work on it.
So I started making phone calls. It was that simple. Oh yeah, and it was really difficult at first. I hated it. I probably sounded like a crazy person, but each call things got easier and my confidence built. The only reason I was making progress was because I had taken the initiative to enter an uncomfortable situation with the goal of overcoming it. I took action, and that’s what success really comes down to in almost any aspect of life.
By doing this uncomfortable task just a few times I opened up a lifetime of new stress-free opportunities. I thought that avoidance was the easy way out in the past, but it turned out I was completely wrong. A few simple actions eliminated years of fear that otherwise would have bothered me. It makes a bit of discomfort seem well worth it when you look at things that way, doesn’t it?
So that’s one of my many personal examples of a comfort challenge.
The first time I ever heard of the term ‘comfort challenge’ was in the best selling book by Timothy Ferriss, The Four Hour Work Week. It piqued my interest immediately and I thought about the power that this technique held.
A very popular quote that also comes to mind when I think about this idea is “Do one thing every day that scares you.” This was said by Eleanor Roosevelt. Try saying this in your mind (or out loud if you can) whenever you face a scenario that makes you nervous, it really helps to get your mind focused on what you are trying to accomplish.
In addition to getting over your fear and nervousness, there are a couple more major benefits to doing these comfort challenges.
1. They really force you to get down to the root cause of your discomfort when you otherwise would have never discovered it. Oftentimes these causes that come to light turn out to be quite silly and are not actually a reason to worry at all. You’ll be wondering why you wasted so much time being worried!
2. Once you complete your first successful comfort challenge you will feel empowered to move onto more issues in your life. The success of your efforts will continue to grow and you can ride that positive experience right into your next set of personal challenges. The whole process takes on a sort of snowball effect.
Now, you need to understand that your first attempts at a specific comfort challenge will not always go well. If this was easy then everyone would do it. This is what separates you from those who don’t make conscious improvements to their lives. Each failed attempt will teach you a lesson that you can apply to the next one to make it go better, and eventually you will accomplish what you have set out to do.
With each successful comfort challenge you will be breaking down the insecurities that were previously limiting you and new doors will open. More opportunities will start to present themselves. You will notice this to be true, I certainly did.
Like I said before, it all comes down to taking action. Keep the huge benefits that come with doing these comfort challenges in your mind at all times and it will keep you inspired to continue moving forward. Good luck!