top of page
  • Writer's pictureKelly Osbaldiston

Stagnancy vs. Growth: Understanding Familiar and Unfamiliar Discomfort

A while back, I was in my office, gearing up to start a transformative journey with a new client. That mix of excitement and jitters, the old familiar blend, took over. Doubts crept in, whispering, “Will I be good enough.” Despite helping numerous clients in the past, self-criticism was my constant companion. I sensed this unease had roots, maybe from the past, but I couldn’t pinpoint where it started.

I’d devised strategies to combat these negative thoughts, reminding myself of my impact in the coaching world. Yet, the discomfort stuck around, becoming a sort of unwanted friend. Then, a realization dawned on me. In the coaching realm, we talk about embracing discomfort for personal growth. But I saw my mix-up: there were two types of discomfort at play, and I needed to discern between them.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. While new challenges naturally bring discomfort, they shouldn’t paralyze me. I had to confront the familiar doubts I kept having head-on and shed that familiar discomfort. So, I committed to a choice: welcome the unfamiliar discomfort that propels growth and let go of the familiar discomfort that hindered me.

That shift sparked a revolution. With newfound confidence, I took on that client and felt the grip of my habitual discomfort loosen its hold. I started to welcome the discomfort that came with positive changes. I decided to push myself, even launching a program I’d been passionate about for ages. My coaching gained more depth, my clients sensed the change, and I felt a profound sense of empowerment.

Ultimately, understanding the distinction between familiar and unfamiliar discomfort reshaped my entire outlook. Familiar discomfort arises from experiences we’ve encountered before. While uncomfortable, we possess coping strategies to navigate them, often tied to routine stressors or recurring issues.

However, familiar discomfort reinforces negative patterns and can lead to stagnation. It becomes a barrier to progress, perpetuating self-defeating behaviors. It’s emotionally draining and can evoke frustration and hopelessness.

Unfamiliar discomfort, on the other hand, emerges from new or unknown experiences. These situations lack precedents, making them initially daunting. Embracing unfamiliar discomfort fosters resilience, prompting us to confront fears and adapt. It encourages growth, innovation, and new learning experiences.

Challenging familiar discomfort and embracing the unfamiliar cultivates the changes we want to see in our lives. It pushes us beyond our comfort zone, enabling us to perceive setbacks as opportunities rather than traps.

If you’re starting to feel like you’ve gotten too comfortable with the familiar discomforts in your life, there are many proactive steps to challenge yourself and shift to a growth mindset. Here’s what I suggest you do:

  1. Embrace change: Actively seek out new experiences and challenges, even if they induce discomfort. Understand that change can open doors to personal development and enrich your life.

  2. Set stretch goals: Establish ambitious but achievable goals that require stepping beyond familiar discomfort. Working towards these goals can provide motivation and a sense of accomplishment.

  3. Seek support and guidance: Engage with a life coach like myself who can help you navigate through discomfort and offer you guidance during periods of growth.

  4. Practice mindfulness: Cultivate self-awareness and mindfulness to identify when comfort with familiar discomfort is holding you back. Mindfulness can break repetitive patterns and encourage positive change.

  5. Celebrate progress: Celebrate small successes and milestones as you face familiar discomfort and move toward personal growth. Positive reinforcement reinstates your desire to embrace challenges and evolve instead of remaining stagnant.

Remember, growth and personal fulfillment often lie beyond the boundaries of familiar discomfort. By recognizing and addressing this difference, you can expand your horizons, tap into your fullest potential, and lead a more rewarding life.

For tailored coping strategies that build self-awareness, encourage growth, and help you effectively problem-solve in your everyday life, reach out to me. Let’s work together to manage your emotions and build the courage to navigate transitions that will help you evolve. It’s about taking small steps toward long-term solutions that will support your journey. And that’s where I come in.

But most importantly, go easy on yourself and be mindful of your energy. Change can feel draining, and the persistent pressure to “do better” could also decrease your well-being over time. Do not rush the process, be present as an active participant a little more every day.


bottom of page