7 Uncomfortable Experiences You Need to Lean Into

I’m 6-foot-3. I have very long legs, which means the floor is very far away. I wish it were closer because I think that could help me reach (literally) my goal of becoming more flexible. I’ve wanted to work on my flexibility for quite some time. I know it’s good for me to be limber, and I know stretching muscles helps prevent injuries. But, despite wanting to be more flexible, I am as rigid as an ironing board. Why? I don’t like to do the one thing that could actually help me—stretching.

Stretching kind of hurts, so I choose not to do it consistently. It’s hard and awkward, and I used to think that’s a bad thing. I’m learning that each time we do something difficult, we embrace an opportunity. Who would choose to be uncomfortable? People who want to grow. Putting yourself in uncomfortable situations can have more pros than cons. Here are 7 uncomfortable experiences you need to lean into.

1. Being Vulnerable

Yeah, this is way up on the list of uncomfortable situations we don’t embrace often enough. Why? You open yourself up for critique after honestly sharing your emotions. It stinks sometimes, but it’s actually quite a good practice. When you’re vulnerable, you give others access to your thoughts, allow them to share struggles in your life, and open yourself up to deeper relationships. It’s also a sign of courage to share important details about what matters to you.

2. Being Silent

This can be painful, especially for someone like me who is a chatterbox and a people person. I thrive on conversation and interaction, but noise and busyness can become burdens and get in the way of connecting with who you really are. Choosing quiet over chaos can be a good thing. It’s a reset. It offers a time of distraction-free renewal, perfect for prayer, deep thoughts, and reorienting yourself toward what matters.

3. Being Alone

Therapist network BetterHelp lists past traumas, unfamiliarity, and low self-esteem as reasons why people tend to avoid spending time totally alone. Humans are social creatures, and most of us like to connect with others. We join gyms, attend events together, and interact on social media. People crave interaction, but being alone for a short time can be refreshing. This cuts out distractions and allows you to focus on your feelings. Think of having a cabin in the woods, just you and the sound of birds chirping and a brook babbling. This is deeply therapeutic for a lot of people. It’s great to have friends and share your time with others, but getting away on your own and reconnecting with your innermost thoughts and desires helps you be a better friend, colleague, or spouse when you plug back in.

4. Being Pushed

It’s tough to flourish inside our comfort zones. We need to be challenged to grow, and that happens when we get into uncomfortable situations. There is a woman in my neighborhood who lost over 100 pounds by getting up every morning and walking for miles. She pushed herself by setting an ambitious goal and walking with a group. Those accountability partners ensured she never missed a workout. Let others push you to do what is uncomfortable and enjoy the positive results.

5. Being Frugal

Being frugal doesn’t mean surviving solely on ramen and stealing Netflix from your mom. It means knowing how much money you earn and watching what you spend closely. Being frugal means denying yourself. This could mean getting Starbucks once per month instead of once per week or going to the library instead of the movies. Keeping a close eye on your spending can lead to some uncomfortable situations, but it’s way better than going into debt by recklessly throwing around money.

6. Being Unplugged

Think how freaked out you were the last time the internet went out for an hour. Admit it—we’re all a bit addicted. We live life online, constantly checking the weather, connecting on social media, and even ordering groceries on apps. It can be both convenient and a bear trap for your brain. The average person spends over seven hours per day looking at some kind of screen. Gen Z is up over nine hours! Studies show that using less tech leads to better health. Unplug by choosing books over binging TV, gardening over Googling, or, if you like the beach, actual surfing instead of surfing the internet.

7. Being Active

Surfing not your thing? Try rock climbing, bowling, kayaking – literally anything that gets your muscles moving. Exercise isn’t always fun, but it’s good for your mind, body, and soul. Lean into it. Join a gym, ask a neighbor to ride bikes with you, or (I can’t believe I’m typing this) start stretching. Yes, it’s good for you, even if it’s uncomfortable.

Sound off: What uncomfortable experience have you purposefully been avoiding?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What does it mean to feel uncomfortable?”