2020 pushed us to our limits psychologically, emotionally, financially and spiritually. For those of us who had become comfortable with coasting through life and being content with routine, we were challenged like never before. Feeling like the rug had been pulled out from underneath us, we collectively experienced for the first time in our lifetime what it was like to not have a choice.

Many of us were forced to hit the reset button, but what we realized was that a great deal of us didn’t know how to do that. Global lockdowns, redundancies, and a constant tragic news cycle was tough – maybe it made you feel angry, frustrated or lost. But for many people, this was exactly the change that we needed. Despite living through one of the most challenging times of a generation, people used this as an opportunity to do something different: start a new business, change careers, invest more time into their side hustle. The important thing about this is that discomfort pushed many people into making changes they had been putting off for years. When discomfort hits, you can either wallow in it, or grab it with both hands and turn it into something great.

Reprogram your mindset

Discomfort arises when your perception or “normal” and “comfortable” is challenged. It may be the result of a negative experience like losing your job, or it could be that you are being challenged to do something new that you’re not sure you’re capable of. Either way, when this happens, you can choose to shy away from the emotions, or lean into them. Instead of telling yourself “I can’t do this”, or “This is bigger than me”, reprogram the way your brain responds and try asking “How can this situation benefit me professionally?”, or “How might this unfortunate situation benefit my wellbeing in the long term?” We can’t control the things that happen to us, but we can control the way we respond. 

Growth of the individual leads to evolution of the collective 

Individual thought leads to creativity, creativity leads to growth, and growth of the individual leads to evolution of the collective. Everyone has different starting points in life, and there’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to growth. When finding our footing and searching for our place in life, it’s easy to be convinced that everyone should fit within the confines of a single approach to success, but we know that everyone’s growth takes place on different timelines. Human evolution requires growth to survive as a species — when we engage in individual thought, evaluation, research and skill learning, we share what we learn so other people can grow, stretch and share. This cycle of eternal uplifting energy uplifts the human experience.

Enlightened spirit requires an open mind

The reason discomfort is such an effective catalyst for change is because it forces you to question the things you thought you knew. You may have heard the quote “nothing good ever came from comfort zones”. This is true because comfort zones encourage you to work within a creative and professional space where you don’t have to worry about risk. In order to reach an enlightened spirit, you need an open mind, and discomfort is the first step in changing your perspective. At The Open Chest Confidence Academy, we advocate for a holistic approach with the help of a guru in cultivating sustainable transformation in mindset and professional practices — this very first step requires an open mind. Sometimes it takes discomfort to make you question everything.

Make a change

At the heart of all of this is a lesson that discomfort is usually pointing you in the direction of change. Whether discomfort comes out of failure or success, the turning points in your life will often coincide with moments of great discomfort. They say that the best things in life are on the other side of fear, and it’s only when embrace the discomfort that precedes this that you truly understand this. 

Don’t see discomfort as a reflection of yourself, see it as a signpost pointing you in a new direction. And remember, there’s nothing wrong with seeking coaching along the way to help you discover how to best utilize your discomfort. When you take the right steps, it won’t be long before you see your discomfort transform into your best self.

Raj Girn, founder of The Open Chest Confidence Academy, is an award winning, serial entrepreneur and multimedia personality, who has worked with fortune 500 companies and A-list celebrities for almost two decades. She has created and curated multiple media and marketing campaigns and event properties, that have incorporated multinational corporations, celebrities, influencers, thought leaders, media houses, and public communities.