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If you follow personal development, spirituality, manifestation, or any kind of business growth accounts/people/blogs/podcasts, I’m sure the phrase “You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable” has come up.

I don’t disagree that growth and expansion can feel uncomfortable and we often do need to embrace that experience.

BUT (/and)…

This phrase needs context. If we are saying this to people, we need to be conscious of the many, many people in the world who are conditioned to accept discomfort for someone else’s benefit.

I’m referring to BIPOC, LGBTTQQI+, women, and other marginalized groups.

As a (white) cis woman, I’ve felt uncomfortable many, many times in my life due to unwanted behaviour from men. If I took this phrase at face value, I might gaslight myself and say it’s all part of my growth and character development.

On the other hand, I’m part of a membership group that is very male-dominated (for stock trading). I’m one of maybe two or three women who actively participate in ongoing discussion. This can feel uncomfortable for different reasons.

I’ve also historically felt uncomfortable spending money. The discomfort doesn’t mean I should never spend money. I have enough awareness to know this is an area of expansion for me in terms of my relationship to money and abundance.

BIPOC folks deal with discomfort almost constantly, from media representations, microaggressions, conscious and unconscious biases, and outright violence and aggression. These are areas where telling people to just “be comfortable being uncomfortable” would be extremely inappropriate and perpetuate further harm.

Ultimately, it comes down to discernment. Makhosi (@theroyalshaman) has a great video about this – I think it’s an IG reel, but I cannot for the life of me find the video where she talks about this. I also scrolled through three months of posts within her Soul Ascension members group, and still cannot find it! I swear it exists, and I’ll update this post with the link when I do find it, BUT, in the meantime, this quote (from a post that is actually linked below), touches on the topic from a related, but different, perspective.

“It is in the DISSONANCE* that we strengthen our ability to operate in our Highest Alignment and evolve into more of our Essence Embodied.”

– Makhosi

(*Note from me: Dissonance here refers things that may not resonate with us.)

(Full post here, available only to members – you can join for free!)

The nuance that is often missing in posts or talks about being comfortable being uncomfortable is this: We, as individuals, need to cultivate our own self-awareness and intuition in order to be able to distinguish between discomfort that tells us something is not for us – and perhaps even dangerous, harmful, unfair, or unjust – and discomfort that comes from doing or becoming something for the very first time.

I find so many posts talk about it in a way that’s assertive, reminiscent of hustle culture and the constant pursuit of some external version of success.

The words we use and the way we speak about things matter. Something else for you to ponder…

Is growth really “uncomfortable”? Does it need to be? Or, rather, do we need to think of it that way?

I think that’s what’s really at the heart of “be comfortable being uncomfortable.”

At its core, it’s about changing how we view things that are unfamiliar to us, that we’re not used to – things that we’re not yet comfortable with.

When we lean into our own self-knowledge and intuition, we know when something serves our expansion and when it’s really just not for us.

And yeah, I’m probably still working on this myself, but hey – that’s what this journey is about.