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Embrace Discomfort: Why Doing What Makes You Uncomfortable is the Key to Personal Growth

Karen Baltz Gibbs, Physical Therapist, Personal Trainer, Garage Training & Rehab Gym

| Have you ever heard the saying “Do something that makes you feel uncomfortable” or “Discomfort is a necessary part of growth”? I like this new one by the author Anne Lamott, “It’s good to do uncomfortable things. It’s weight training for life.”  |

#1 Uncomfortable goal

A few years ago, I tried this when making my goals for the year. I decided to do two things that made me uncomfortable. One of those things was to enroll in a joint manipulation course in Los Angeles, California. I had a great overall experience, I met people who were friends of colleagues who spoke of them before I attended. While I attended the course, I had to speak up with other Physical Therapists who were more outspoken. I hope I provided them with insight on how to work better with patients! I was able to engage with amazing instructors asking them directly for help, as I wanted to make sure I did the new advanced techniques I was learning correctly! I left wanting to know more and knowing that I would have to make a concerted effort to continue to learn the techniques.

Another part of this weekend that meant so much to me, was meeting up with my friend who I first met when I was in high school. (while on a church youth group trip to Tijuana, Mexico. She was our interpreter). She was so amazing as she let me experience her culture taking me to her home and to a truly authentic neighborhood restaurant. I loved the cooks and owners at the restaurant! They wanted me to try foods that I had never heard of and kindly laughed at my lack of experience with their culture. I felt very welcomed and accepted.

#2 Uncomfortable goal

The other event that I did that was part of doing something uncomfortable was that I enrolled in a 10-day course to become a NOLS Wilderness First Responder. One could imagine taking PTO from your job to learn how to be a First Responder in the outdoors. Yes, this was in January and I spent many hours in the cold rain, sometimes being the "victim" on the ground… The most difficult part wasn’t all the learning and environment, it was where I was at with my mental health at the time. This was one of the first times I recognized that work stress was having more of an effect than I realized. The brain responds to made-up scenarios like it is happening. I was feeling trauma in unreal situations. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted with this training. I realized that my burnout was not just going to be a simple thing to get through. This is where years of real work to address self-care came to fruition. I dealt with feeling shame about how stressed I was at this event. I know everyone around me at the time had no idea what I was going through. I struggled with how it was possible for a professional, who was normally very much in control, could get to this point. Yet through this, I started to listen and trust that a bigger plan was in place. I knew that the work I had done in my life and profession would not be forgotten and grace was given to me to move onward to change.

My Challenge to you...

So my challenge to you is to choose to do things that make you feel uncomfortable. I never would have had these life-changing experiences if I hadn’t dared to do uncomfortable things. Taking care of yourself is multilayered but how you feel physically has a significant effect on how you feel mentally. So take that chance and let’s work together on what makes you feel uncomfortable.

#Live Inspired,

Karen Baltz Gibbs, PT, DPT, CSCS, CMP, LMT

Phone: 971-719-3162




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