When I was coaching college lacrosse, a theme we tried to teach the girls was “being comfortable with being uncomfortable.” We had them catch while holding their sticks in awkward positions, throw passes that were too high or too wide, and we would put them in situations where they would feel uncomfortable with the ways they were catching, throwing, and sometimes moving. The point of this was to show that play during games isn’t perfect- you have to be ready for anything that comes your way, and still be able to play YOUR game. You have to get used to feeling out of place so that when it happens in a game, you know how to push through that feeling of uncomfortable-ness and continue to play to your full potential.
It’s the same thing in life. We need to be okay with situations that make us uncomfortable, and need to get to a place where no matter what, we find comfort and confidence in who we are. It is important to spend time with those who make us feel most like ourselves, and also in settings and/or environments where we thrive. It is just as important, however, to spend time with people who are different from us, and to go to places that we are unfamiliar with. Maybe these places are a different town or country, maybe it’s just sitting with a new group of people at lunch. Having uncomfortable conversations about politics, gender, religion, relationships, etc. allows us to grow and learn. It also allows us to form our own opinions and prepares us for future conversations that are similar. Being uncomfortable is actually vital to our individual growth.
While coaching the drills to teach comfort during discomfort on the field, we taught our players that with every uncomfortable situation they found themself in at practice, they would be that much more confident and prepared for the game. With every awkward pass and catch, they grew into a more well rounded and flexible player. We reminded them they would be prepared for anything that came their way.
Learning how to manage our feelings when in an awkward situation is also important to our growth. When you are uncomfortable here are a few things you can do to control your feelings and in turn treat the situation as a learning experience:
It sounds simple, but taking a few deep breaths will calm your nerves and give you more control over your body and emotions. It will also give you a few moments to think and process what is happening around you.
Listen and ask questions.
A lot of times when we are uncomfortable we become defensive and argumentative. Rather than allowing yourself to respond negatively, shift your mindset to listen to others and ask them questions. Even if you don’t agree with everything that is being said around you, ask questions to understand where the other people are coming from.
Share who you are in a non argumentative way.
You were created with your own thoughts, opinions, strengths and passions. Allow yourself to share who you are with others, in a non judgmental and non argumentative way. There’s a chance other people can learn from you too. With every moment that we, as people, are open about who we are, we grow.
Being uncomfortable is not a pleasant feeling, but it’s one we need to become accustomed to if we are wanting to mature in our understanding of people, ourselves, and the world around us. I challenge you to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation this week, and do your best to be comfortable with it. Let me know how it goes!