We all know of certain situations in life that make us nervous. No matter how we prepare for them we always find ourselves becoming anxious and stressed out. These situations could be anything from going to the doctor’s office to having a meeting with your boss at work. In this article I want to discuss something known as a ‘comfort challenge’ and how this amazing strategy can help you overcome your worst fears and insecurities.
Here’s a fact that I’ve come to realize in my own life: If you want to become comfortable in situations that usually make you nervous, then you need to deal with some serious discomfort for a while.
In other words, putting yourself directly into situations that make you extremely uncomfortable is the only way to truly get over them and make any progress towards overcoming your nervousness, worry and stress. In today’s society where everyone wants the quickest and easiest fix possible, this idea doesn’t usually flourish. Avoidance of the problem(s) usually requires the least effort, so it makes it seem like the top choice. The problem with this way of doing things is that it sets a very bad precedent for the rest of your life and the other uncomfortable situations that will come in the future (and yes, they will come).
I’ll share an example from my life.
I used to be completely terrified of calling people on the phone. If the person I was calling was a close friend then it was fine, but if it was someone I did not know then I would get extremely nervous. I would do almost anything to get out of having to make a phone call to someone if I did not know them well. This went on for quite a few years.
I finally decided that enough was enough and I was going to get over this issue. The new job I had just gotten required making phone calls to people so I really had no choice but to work on it.
So I started making phone calls. It was that simple. Oh yeah, and it was really difficult at first. I hated it. I probably sounded like a crazy person, but each call things got easier and my confidence built. The only reason I was making progress was because I had taken the initiative to enter an uncomfortable situation with the goal of overcoming it. I took action, and that’s what success really comes down to in almost any aspect of life.
By doing this uncomfortable task just a few times I opened up a lifetime of new stress-free opportunities. I thought that avoidance was the easy way out in the past, but it turned out I was completely wrong. A few simple actions eliminated years of fear that otherwise would have bothered me. It makes a bit of discomfort seem well worth it when you look at things that way, doesn’t it?
So that’s one of my many personal examples of a comfort challenge.
The first time I ever heard of the term ‘comfort challenge’ was in the best selling book by Timothy Ferriss, The Four Hour Work Week. It piqued my interest immediately and I thought about the power that this technique held.
A very popular quote that also comes to mind when I think about this idea is “Do one thing every day that scares you.” This was said by Eleanor Roosevelt. Try saying this in your mind (or out loud if you can) whenever you face a scenario that makes you nervous, it really helps to get your mind focused on what you are trying to accomplish.
In addition to getting over your fear and nervousness, there are a couple more major benefits to doing these comfort challenges.
1. They really force you to get down to the root cause of your discomfort when you otherwise would have never discovered it. Oftentimes these causes that come to light turn out to be quite silly and are not actually a reason to worry at all. You’ll be wondering why you wasted so much time being worried!
2. Once you complete your first successful comfort challenge you will feel empowered to move onto more issues in your life. The success of your efforts will continue to grow and you can ride that positive experience right into your next set of personal challenges. The whole process takes on a sort of snowball effect.
Now, you need to understand that your first attempts at a specific comfort challenge will not always go well. If this was easy then everyone would do it. This is what separates you from those who don’t make conscious improvements to their lives. Each failed attempt will teach you a lesson that you can apply to the next one to make it go better, and eventually you will accomplish what you have set out to do.
With each successful comfort challenge you will be breaking down the insecurities that were previously limiting you and new doors will open. More opportunities will start to present themselves. You will notice this to be true, I certainly did.
Like I said before, it all comes down to taking action. Keep the huge benefits that come with doing these comfort challenges in your mind at all times and it will keep you inspired to continue moving forward. Good luck!
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11 thoughts on “Overcoming Fear and Nervousness”
Well, fear and nervousness can never be eradicated. And they we’ve a word called courage. The tiny few who take courage are said to have overcome fear. But excellence is something that can make anyone feel worthy and create least fear and nervousness. Nice post :)
“Do one thing every day that scares you” is a tremendous challenge. I have referred to breaking this habit we all have of staying in our comfort zone as pushing against the box. Isn’t it interesting that a human life is all about change, but we deny it at every turn. If you aren’t changing constantly the odds are decent that you are dead, at least figuratively.
Thanks for the great insight on fear especially. That is one of the two most common emotions experienced in the workplace, second to anger.
We must be on similar paths since I wrote a blog earlier today on the subject of emotions and their affect on us, fear being one of them.
You also don’t have to go at facing these comfort challenges alone. Most of the time when I want to go outside of my comfort zone, there’s someone to help me through it. It makes it a lot easier when you have someone who’s done it before helping you through it. Plus they’ll hold you accountable.
This is a great post! Your advice reminds me of the book “Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway.” I learned that your fear is only overcome by doing what you fear rather than waiting for the fear to go away to do it. Each time you do this you feel empowered because fear has no power over you.
Thanks for the great information!
Great post my friend and so very true – how funny that you posted on comfort challenge and I created a blog on my site that talks about Comfort Zone Removal (CZR) – Procrastination. As I read your blog, I thought that fear causes procrastination….so I love your advice is to move forward and get yourself into these “so called” scary scenarios and make yourself get out of the fear…..very good!
Facing our fears and getting out of our comfort zone: I guess I am an expert. Over the past three years I have had to move 3x and start 2 new jobs. All of which make change happen fast. I was once scared to death of elevators and heights, but now that I am a Security Officer, not anymore. After the training, and the job: I have to face the “old” fears of those. I guess change is good then, it forced me to face my fears.
that’s so true nate
i tried something similar before and it worked
thanks for the post :)
I am nervous only when I know that I am not 100 % prepared for what is going to happen. If I am prepared I am pretty relaxed and everything is great
Great tips you got here on how to confront and overcome fear. Thanks for sharing your life experience. As we all know fear hinders us to fully reach self-actualization and robs us off of our life dreams. A wise man once said, “there is nothing to fear but fear itself”.
I’m really nervous of interviews mainly because I don’t want to reveal my past and let a protential employer know that I am an ex-offender has been for over 25 years. once during an interview a protential employer ask me -what have you been doing with yourself for the last past years and how much money was I making.all i could think about was the penitentary and just sweeping and mopping the floors – i drew a blank and to this day when I mangage to be sucessful in getting an interview I look for some excuse to get out of it but I got to give it another try and look protential employer in the eye and let them know I’m not a bad person and can be a good worker.