So much of the recovery process brings us discomfort. Discomfort is woven into everything that we talk about with anxiety, panic, exposure, and recovery. Being uncomfortable is something that we unfortunately have to accept as part of the process. 

When it comes to doing exposures, we often feel hesitant about it. We have that anticipatory discomfort that builds up and sometimes leads to us choosing not to do the exposure. But then, we have the discomfort of feeling like a failure for not doing the task. Can you relate to this?

Today, we’ll examine a third type of discomfort that many of us have experienced but often don’t talk about. The discomfort that happens when you can’t decide whether you will do the task or if you will choose not to do the task.

This is the discomfort of hesitation.


– Expect to be uncomfortable. (01:35)

  • “If you choose to recover from anxiety, you are choosing discomfort in the name of improvement.”

– There will be discomfort whether you choose to do the hard stuff or not.

– Exposure and facing fears bring discomfort. 

– Choosing to remain where you are without making changes brings discomfort based on guilt and the feeling of failure.

– There is a third source of discomfort. The discomfort of hesitation. (03:20)

  • Pick to do the hard thing and then do it or pick not to do the hard thing and then don’t do it. Don’t hang out in the middle.”

– The level of discomfort in the indecisive, hesitation zone is often worse than if you decide to complete the exposure or decide not to.

  • “I spent hours of my life standing at my front door and looking at my car. I have lived an extended amount of time in the hesitation zone.”

– How we experience discomfort on the micro-level. (07:20)

– By choosing to do the exposure, you will have anticipatory discomfort.

– By choosing not to do the exposure, you will have discomfort based on guilt or failure.

– By choosing to stay in the middle, you have the double-edge discomfort of indecision, worsening your anticipatory anxiety and turning an already difficult task into a gargantuan task.

– What happens when you experience hesitation on the macro-level. (10:40)

– Long term effects of hesitation increase the discomfort of failure, thinking you haven’t made any progress and leads to more anxiety

– Why hesitation is so damn uncomfortable (12:00)

  • The discomfort of hesitation, whether for a specific exposure or on a general scale, is probably more uncomfortable on an additive level than the discomfort you experience either retreating or going forward.”

– Hesitation makes your overall recovery more difficult than it has to be.

– Hesitation makes the individual challenge/exposure much more difficult than it has to be.

– Drew’s advice for people stuck in the hesitation zone (12:35)

– Decide to do the task or decide not to do the task.

  • Always acknowledge that you’re doing a hard thing and understand that there’s a struggle that comes with it. Don’t penalize yourself for struggling.”

– What to do after deciding not to do the exposure (14:00)

– If you’re going to retreat, that is okay! We have all done it.

– Regroup.  Give yourself some space. Maybe check in with your support/recovery group.  Them renew your resolve and try again.

– Reminder: There is discomfort in recovery no matter what (15:35)

  • We will feel discomfort if we go forward and we will feel discomfort if we choose not to go forward, but we will be more uncomfortable if we trap ourselves in the no-man’s land of hesitation.”

– This is really, really hard stuff as it is. We make it harder for ourselves when we hang out with hesitation.


Are You Subscribed To My Newsletter?

Recovery tips. Updates on recovery resources. Encouragement. Inspiration. Empowerment. All delivered to your inbox! Subscribe here FREE.

Helpful Recovery Resources:

My Books | FREE Resources | Courses and Workshops | Disordered (with Josh Fletcher) | Join My Instagram Subscriber Group

Podcast Intro/Outro Music: "Afterglow" by Ben Drake (With Permission)






Founder and host of The Anxious Truth podcast. Graduate student and therapist-in-training. Author and educator on the topic of anxiety disorders and anxiety recovery. Former anxious and depressed person.