Is Being Uncomfortable Good for You?

My goal this year is to put myself in as many uncomfortable situations as possible. I am trying to live outside my comfort zone. 

I’ve been challenging myself to do hard things (well, hard for me) like entering social situations I used to avoid, trying a new sport, and finding little ways every day to challenge myself.

I didn’t fully understand my mission until our recent conversation with a behavioral therapist, Dr. Selena Snow. She says anxiety is rooted in the overestimation of our fears and the underestimation of our ability to deal with them.

That is the key to my anxiety journey—proving to myself that I can handle anything.  I mean, there hasn’t been anything in the last 47 years that I haven’t been able to handle, right?

Still, it’s easier said than done. On The Amazing Race, we were put in MANY uncomfortable positions. I found that it was easier for me to tackle bigger-picture things than the everyday things that cause me to break out in a sweat.

Bungee jumping? Fine. Correcting a food order? No, thank you!  

What’s So Hard About Picking Up The Phone?

One thing that really gets my heart racing is making a phone call to a stranger, and we received tons of comments from other people who also struggle with phone call anxiety.

I used to love making calls as a teenager, even when that involved talking to a friend’s parent. But that was also a time before texting. Making a phone call was my only opportunity to chat with a friend, and I was happy to have that.

Penn and I wanted to know why phone calls are making people anxious, so we asked Dr. Snow—and the entire conversation helped me so much.  She says humans tend to pay more attention to negative information because we are hard-wired to spot danger. As a mom, that’s a helpful instinct when it comes to spotting a toddler tumbling toward a fireplace from across a busy room. But as someone with anxiety, it makes it hard to convince myself that I didn’t say something stupid to someone at a party.

Let’s Get Uncomfortable

When it comes to making a phone call, I get caught in the thought trap that I’m inconveniencing the person on the other end, or that I’m disappointing them. I need to practice inconveniencing people, or rather, practice doing what I think is inconveniencing them. For me, that could be calling in a long takeout order.

I have also created a mantra for when I am pushing myself out of my comfort zone: being uncomfortable is not bad—it’s good for you. It is a reminder that while I am not enjoying something at the moment, that does not mean I’m not benefitting from it in some way.

On this week’s podcast, we spoke to Dr. Snow about the causes of phone call anxiety. We hope you learn a few strategies on how to overcome it and why avoiding it altogether could be making things worse. Happy listening!