I know it sounds strange, but it is actually true. Something I’ve learned is that sometimes you have to sit in the bad feelings for a while in order to make the changes you need in your life. We either change to move away from pain or towards pleasure. But most people are more likely to change by moving away from pain.

Frankly, I have had to learn how to allow my clients to sit in feeling bad. In the past, I thought it was my job to make my clients feel better, but that is sometimes the opposite of what they need. At times, it can actually rob them of the experience they need in order to change. This is why visualization does not always work. Although visualization is a powerful tool that I use my coaching practice, research has shown that for some people it can be ineffective. Why? Because for some people it gives them just enough relief from the pain they are currently in that they don’t do anything about it. By placing them in the situation they want to be in (mentally), they feel better and put off changing. (Side note: Visualization is actually more effective for these people when they also visualize the steps they need to take to get there.)

I’m not saying that you have to wallow in your pain or that you should intentionally beat yourself up and make yourself feel bad in order to change. (That actually does not work either. We change when we love ourselves enough to want something better for ourselves.) It’s not about exacerbating our pain, but it is about allowing ourselves to feel the discomfort of our current situation enough to actually want to do something about it, or else we will just stay in our cozy little comfort zone even if it means settling for something less than what we actually want for ourselves, what we actually deserve, whether it is a job we love, a closer relationship with a loved one, or even to lose ten pounds. Change always starts from the same place, discomfort with where we are at.

Are you allowing yourself to feel the discomfort you need to in order to get to the next level of your success? Are you robbing someone else from their own discomfort? Are you numbing out in order to avoid the uncomfortable feelings you need to make your life better?

Don’t settle for less than what you are capable of. Feel the discomfort, make a plan and move on. If you need help making a plan, or staying the course, or being accountable get the help you need. Most people actually can’t do it on their own. We have too many blind-spots, old programming that sabotages our results, or we can’t see how to get from where we are to where we want to be. There is no shame in asking for help. The most successful people in the world have guidance from mentors, coaches, and experts who have been there before and know how to help them get to where they want to be.

What goals do you have that you are avoiding achieving? What will it take to get you out of your comfort zone? What will you do differently this upcoming year to get you to where you truly want to be?

Consider these questions and let me know if I can help.


  • Dr. Donna Marino (PsyD)

    Psychologist & Executive Coach

    Donna Marino, PsyD, Ltd

    Dr. Donna Marino is a Psychologist and Executive Coach. She is an expert in helping high-achieving leaders move from burnout to SUSTAINABLE peak performance, so that they can fulfill their mission while also experiencing greater health, happiness, and relationships. Dr. Marino has over 20 years of experience in human potential and transformational change.

    As a high-achiever, who works with high-achievers, she discovered a collection of characteristics that when left unchecked lead to burn out, high-functioning anxiety and high-functioning depression. She coined the term for this condition, High-Achievers Syndrome (TM) and developed a protocol for dealing with it, recovering and creating SUSTAINABLE peak performance.

      Dr. Donna is also a sought after speaker and author on leadership, peak performance, and burnout recovery.