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5 Ways to Push Through Discomfort to Make Positive Change

“Don’t let today’s disappointments cast a shadow on tomorrow’s dreams.” ~Unknown

One of the most difficult parts of reaching your goals or making positive change is pushing through discomfort.

This is where a lot of people give up—when the process inspires all kinds of challenging feelings.

If you’ve quit your day job to pursue your passion and after six months you need to sell your car to keep going, a cubicle may appeal to your need for security.

If you’d like to get your masters degree but received rejection letters for the fall, your ego might tell you not to reapply.

If you’d love to let someone into your life but you’re afraid of being hurt, you may bail at the first sign of conflict.

Maybe your will is strong enough to clear emotional hurdles without flinching; but odds are, you’re at least a little familiar with that nagging inner voice that says, “Go back. It’s too hard. It’s not worth it.”

Except it is. According to the video 212 degrees, the margin of victory for the last ten years in the Indy 500 has been 1.54 seconds. The margin of victory in all major golf tournaments in the last 25 years was only three strokes.

The day you give up could easily be three strokes before you succeed. Even if your future doesn’t unfold exactly as you’d planned, you’ll never regret what you become through the process of following your bliss.

Now it’s just about how. How do you separate yourself from your fears so they don’t sabotage your efforts? How do silence that inner voice and force yourself to keep taking step, after step, after step? Here’s what I’m working on now:

1. Identify potential challenges and decide that you can meet them.

List all the factors that could encourage you to quit. Be specific. What sacrifices will be the most difficult? What changes might push you way out of your comfort zone?

Then ask yourself this: what’s the payoff if you keep going?

I’m currently maintaining a jam-packed schedule with freelance work, this site, and my book. I would far prefer to cut out some of the freelance work, but for now, that’s the price of indulging my passions. For now.

Juggling all of these responsibilities can sometimes feel overwhelming. Then I remember I chose this lifestyle to support my vision, and I am making progress.

It also helps to remind myself that busy-ness does not have to create stress. I can have a lot to do without worrying about it. Being anxious won’t get things done any faster; it will just suck the joy out of something I love.

2. Observe your emotions without resisting them.

Unless you have a lobotomy, you will experience rushes of emotion all throughout your life. What’s important to realize is that you are not your feelings or thoughts. You exist beyond the machine that is your mind.

This is where you’re able to experience life as it actually is without analyzing, judging, forming opinions, conjuring up images of the past, and worrying about the future.

Notice your feelings. Feel them. Realize they aren’t permanent—you won’t always feel scared, or anxious, or paranoid.

When you stop resisting something, it’s a lot easier to let it go.

3. When your emotions get louder, challenge them with more emotions.

In The Power of Now Eckhart Tolle explores how we can quiet our persistent inner monologue and seep fully into the present moment, accepting it for all it is.

Most people who reach this level of enlightenment still go back and forth between observing the mind and submitting to it. This tells me we need a few tricks up our sleeve to get past the louder mental moments.

Recently I’ve been appealing to “future me.” When “present me” feels scared and wants to curl up in a corner, I remind myself that future me will be proud, grateful, and satisfied if I don’t.

No matter how uncomfortable change can be, I know what I do now creates what I feel tomorrow. And I know it’s worth moving through fear.

4. Celebrate all your minor victories.

When we have large goals, it’s tempting to feel dissatisfied until we’ve reached them completely. If you want to produce a feature film, securing the first location might seem like little more than an item on your to-do list.

But it’s so much more than that. It’s your first of many successes on the way to your dream. It’s a reflection of how amazing you are—how talented, capable, driven, and powerful you are at your core.

If you give yourself a lot of credit for every small thing, you’ll likely keep piling them up—and that’s what gets you where you want to be.

5. Call yourself a liar.

Oftentimes people give up because they’ve stopped believing in the possibility of the life they want to create. They start rationalizing in their head, “It’s probably too far-fetched.” Or they may even trick themselves into believing they don’t really want it.

“I don’t want that promotion anyway. It would be far too much travel.”

There’s a small chance this is actually true, but most likely you’re bargaining with yourself so you feel have permission to quit. Say it loud and proud: “That’s not true. I can do this. I do want it. I will keep going.”

This is your chance—right now—to live the life you want to live. This is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. You are the connection you’ve been hoping to make. You are the light you’ve been seeking.

So shine on. Plow ahead. Be bold. Be present.

I’ll meet you on the other side of resistance.

Photo by RonAlmog

Avatar of Lori Deschene

About Lori Deschene

Tiny Buddha Founder Lori Deschene is the author of the Tiny Wisdom eBook seriesTiny Buddha's Guide to Loving Yourself, and Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Life's Hard Questions. She's also co-founder of Recreate Your Life Story, an eCourse that helps you change your life. For inspiring posts and wisdom quotes, follow on Twitter & Facebook.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • Pamela

    Terrific piece, Lori. Thank you.

  • http://www.theemotionmachine.com Steven

    Yes, I like recognizing the small victories along the way. It helps to let you know that you are making progress even if your wildest dreams aren’t yet in reach. It’s the little steps that matter, the big things take care of themselves in the long-run.

    Great piece and I look forward to reading more. I absolutely LOVE the site!

  • Elysianstudios

    Enjoyed the article-Just what I needed today!

  • Gstrickland26

    Thanks for the inspiration!!!!

  • http://www.zenbuzz.com Lee Miller

    As I read your inspiring article I continued to say to myself this sounds like me speaking to myself. You have put these thoughts into such a wonderful collection of words that you become a true inspiration that motivates me to continue to push forward and achieve more and enjoy more.

    Thank you for the inspiration that you provide.

    Lee

  • http://milliverstravels.com Milliver’s Travels

    I celebrated a minor victory (#4) on Twitter about how I had defeated an error message that was happening on my website. A while later, I found and read this article. I love those kinds of instant affirmations!

  • Jeff Sykes

    Thanks Lori. Your words are truly comforting. I recently changed career paths and returned to university for another degree. So I relate to your words completely. Thanks for the motivation. I will endure and try to appreciate every step along the journey. Namistae!

  • http://twitter.com/AlannahRose AlannahRose

    I have been through a lot of things this year that, all together, add up to something that was really overwhelming. In order to get through it all and still get out of bed, go to work and function every day I had to break everything up into tiny steps. If I just look at that one step, I can handle doing it, and then I can look at the next one. If I look at the whole process or the end result, it’s just too much and I panic/collapse/give up. I have really learned the power of the small steps and focusing on now. When things get too overwhelming, I tell myself, “I am okay right now” and then a minute later, “I am okay right now” and that helps to dissapate any fear I am feeling.

    I agree with everything you’ve said here… looking at each tiny accomplishment seems silly or pointless but when you’ve reached your goal each little step is significant, so they shouldn’t be discounted! The discomfort will be irrelevant at the end.

  • Lisa Dobson

    Lori, you are wise beyond your years. It took me 45 years to figure much of this out. Your words are filled with Grace and Wisdom and I so much enjoy reading your posts. They touch me deeply.
    Lisa

  • Baileygirl

    exactly !!!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/Sam_Russell_ Sam Russell

    I’ve met people who make mountains out of mole-hills but I’ve never met anyone who can make a mole-hill out of a mountain. You’re very much like a wedge keeping the doors of my mind open when hopelessness is doing its best to blow them shut.

    Thanks for writing this!

    Kudos

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Fantastic! I’m so glad you liked it. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re welcome Sam! Thanks for reading. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Lisa~ I’m glad you found this post helpful. I’ve had my moments when it’s been difficult to stay true to myself, but it helps to remember those moments will pass. Thank you for reading! ~Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Alannah~

    Thanks for sharing some of your experiences here. I can relate in a big way. I’ve had some similar times in my life when everything seemed overwhelming and impossible. If I stayed mindful, and focused solely on what was in front of me, it was a lot easier to keep moving forward.

    Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Jeff,

    Congrats on making the change! I’m sure it was a little scary, but I imagine you will be far more fulfilled in the long run for having the courage to do it. I really admire that you made such a brave, wonderful decision =)

    Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Me, too! Congratulations on that little victory =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome Lee. We all need motivation from time to time, and I’m so happy I could provide that for you =)

    Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you for reading!

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  • LavenderLove

    Thank you Lori! I am going through a hard time moving on from a relationship that is over. Reading all your articles has helped me in better focusing my thoughts on the future and recognizing that everything I feel now is temporary and will pass. I am focusing on my present self for once instead of looking to tomorrow to make me happy. It’s been very hard to do this for me but I am trying my hardest to stay on this path and make myself happy rather than letting my relationship status define me. Thank you once again Lori!!

  • LavenderLove

    Thank you Lori! I am going through a hard time moving on from a relationship that is over. Reading all your articles has helped me in better focusing my thoughts on the future and recognizing that everything I feel now is temporary and will pass. I am focusing on my present self for once instead of looking to tomorrow to make me happy. It’s been very hard to do this for me but I am trying my hardest to stay on this path and make myself happy rather than letting my relationship status define me. Thank you once again Lori!!

  • http://margihealing.wordpress.com/ Margi Macdonald

    Appealing to ‘future me’, rather than constantly listening to ‘present me’… that’s an inspiration I’ll take with me right now.
    Thank-you!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome! That one always helps me =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome! I’m so happy to be helpful.

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  • Boris Matic

    http://activerain.com/blogsview/1922252/ways-to-push-trhough-discomfort-and-make-a-positive-change

    fokin impostors. as non-american ex-yugoslavia boy, you know, you’ve watched that movies, got war in my blood, all the suffering and all the guilt as a 5year old boy can get, I have only one advice.
    emotions/belief/value/consciousness/negative/positive thinking is all about breathing.

    if you want to stop worrying, stop breathing.

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  • Lightning22-2004

    Dear Ms. eschene,

    I was reading someone’s post on facebook about 5 Ways to Push Through Discomfort. WOW…..what a powerful article.Thank you so much for writing it. It brought many ideas and thoughts to the future. Keep up the great job.

    Best regards,

    Christine

  • Rhi

    I really like this. Im 20 and doing alot of reading on being positive and trying to block out the negative thoughts, because i do believe every thought counts, and impacts your life!

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  • Blerta Haxhijaha

    WOW! :) Somehow made me grab some paper and colors and be creative with my goals and fears. Thanks:)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    That’s awesome! You’re most welcome. =)

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  • CocoRose85

    Thank you, this made me teary eyed because it met me right where I am. I am a freelance writer and I am totally changing the direction of my business after experiencing only mediocre success over the past three years. I want my dreams to come true but the anxiety of doing something new is sometimes overwhelming. Thank you for these timely reminders. 

  • Brittany Mckenzie

    In the past few days I have decided to move to a different city, closer to where I grew up.  There are pros and cons as with every situation, but I believe that this move is going to be good for me and will allow me to move in the direction of my dreams and to accomplish things I may not have the drive to do where I currently live.  I read this post at a perfect time, and it reassures me that the fear of leaving my comfort zone is only a necessary step on the way to the life I want to live.
    Thank you, and I hope you are recovering from your surgery well!