5 Benefits of Discomfort Training

Discomfort training is the key to personal growth.

5 Benefits of Discomfort Training

It’s Wednesday afternoon.

I’m sitting in my office, wrapping up my work day. Emails, meetings, getting the kids to and from school, and trying to maintain some balance - it had been a hard day.

Just then, my 10-year-old daughter walks in and comes right up to give me a big hug.

This was unexpected.

She says, “Thanks Dad for pushing me to go to school. Even though I didn’t want to go, it was a great day.

Instantly I was immensely proud of her. My heart felt full.

A little backstory: she had been uncharacteristically nervous about going to school that week. No real reason. Just felt nervous.

After prodding, pushing, and encouraging that morning, we finally got her in the car and drove to school. Even while we were in the school parking lot, she didn’t want to get out of the car.

I promised her once she walked into the classroom and got through the first hour, she’d feel a lot better.

I said, “The toughest part of doing hard things is getting started.

She took a big breath, got out of the car, and walked towards her classroom.

Now here she is, beaming because she overcame a big challenge. While worried the next few days might be hard too, she knows that she can push herself to overcome any challenge.

She knows she can do hard things.

It's funny: she is only 10 and learning a lesson so many adults have never learned.

Most people look for the easy way out all their lives. They try to escape from the tough choices, the hard work, and the discomfort that living a healthy life often brings.

They avoid anything difficult at all costs. Little do they know they are doing a massive disservice to themselves.

If you avoid discomfort, you can’t help but watch your life shrivel up and dwindle away.

Embracing the discomfort is where you grow.

Think about exercise: you only build muscles by pushing against resistance. Think about taking on a new job: you figure out how to do the work by taking on the challenges. Think about babies learning to walk: how many times do they fall before they learn how to take steps?

This is why it's important for all of us to intentionally embrace discomfort. You won’t grow unless you get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

This is called discomfort training.

Discomfort training is the practice of intentionally exposing yourself to being uncomfortable.

It involves deliberately putting yourself in situations that cause physical or psychological discomfort. The goal is to retrain the brain to view discomfort as less of a threat. While doing this, you expand your ability to tolerate and manage difficult situations.

Discomfort training is based on the fact that exposing yourself to discomfort can strengthen your ability to handle difficult situations and emotions.

​Researchers​ have found that deliberately embracing discomfort, rather than avoiding it, is motivating and leads to greater personal growth. You learn to reframe discomfort as an essential element for learning and growth.

One ​study​ listed 5 key benefits when you face discomfort:

  1. Developing self-discipline
  2. Building mental toughness
  3. Becoming more resilient in pursuing your goals
  4. Increased ability to perform well under pressure
  5. Retrain the brain to view discomfort as less of a threat

Discomfort training is something I have been working on for several years. I enjoy pushing myself physically and emotionally to do more than I thought possible.

Whether it's doing a cold plunge outside in 17° F weather, doing 100 push-ups a day for over a year, or making a big presentation to colleagues, I intentionally put myself in situations where I feel uncomfortable.

This is how I train myself to be ok with discomfort.

Just like my daughter, I recognize that discomfort is the beginning of growth.

Your action this week is to try discomfort training.

It doesn’t need to be anything crazy. Just try something you know is good for you, but you've been avoiding it because it's a little uncomfortable.

Here are some examples:

Get up a little earlier: wake up 30 minutes earlier to enjoy the sunrise, drink that extra cup of coffee, or meditate.

Work out for 10 minutes: do a quick workout by simply going on a walk, lifting weights, or stretching.

Put your phone in timeout for an afternoon: intentionally put your phone away and be present wherever you are and whomever you’re with.

If you want to do something more difficult, go for it! The goal this week is to intentionally step out of your comfort zone and push yourself to do something difficult.

It won’t be easy, but you will be intentionally embracing discomfort training.

After doing this for a few days, you will realize you are capable of doing more than you once thought possible. You’ll gain confidence and start to see new possibilities.

You'll see that discomfort is really just the beginning of growth.