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comfortably uncomfortable – your brain’s reaction to change

This was a phrase I’ve picked up from an innovation trainer. He said, “to unlearn old ways of thinking and learn new ones, you need to get comfortably uncomfortable.” I had to ponder this one. We’ve all heard the statement about when you step outside your comfort zone, that’s where you really grow. Yet we rarely hear about how that can make us feel. Somehow this new description really grabs me – doing something new or different to your norms can really make you feel a touch anxious or scared.

Why does this happen? The part of your brain for complex thinking is called the prefrontal cortex and sits just behind your forehead. It is accessed via the amygdala, the emotional centre. Let’s look at an example – you decide to try a new fitness plan or start a new course or take a new job (that’s the complex thinking bit of the brain working) and you feel really chuffed to have made a decision, but then you get that uncomfortable feeling about getting started, the energy required to succeed or what you have to sacrifice along the road (that’s the emotional centre getting heard!).

Hang in there. I’ve got a brain-friendly fix to help your amygdala feel heard and help you move forward with being comfortably uncomfortable.

Take 2 minutes out from whatever you’re doing and just be still. Now focus your attention on your feelings. List them out one by one, either in your head, out loud or jot them down – whatever suits you. Simply acknowledge each of them like the face of an old friend passing by the window. You’ll notice how you can now concentrate on the action or task in hand, without further energy going to dealing with your emotions.

Getting comfortably uncomfortable is a key skill to acquire if you are going to make the shift you want in your life.  Try this technique out whenever you need to move past your emotions, to focus on whatever you’re doing.

Right before you go, answer these 2 for me in the comments:

  1. What’s your way to deal with feeling uncomfortable? (Biscuits or chocolate? Long runs? Call a mate?)
  2. How did your brain react to this acknowledgement technique?

If you’d like to try out more brain-friendly techniques to help you explore and achieve real change in your life, book a coaching session with me.

  • Grace

    1. Unnecessary banter/chat/noise. 2. Uh-oh…

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