Know anyone who avoids trying new things? The thought of doing something poorly at first stops her from ever getting good at anything new. How about someone who keeps her expectations low so that she won’t be disappointed? Know anyone like that? (Mirror, mirror on the wall . . .)
We’re all bad at new things for a while. You’ll run the risk of falling on your face or being rejected at every turn. I wish I could tell you I have a way to avoid this risk, but I don’t. All I have to offer is a really good reason to chance it anyway.
Better Safe Than Sorry Or …
Your body and your mind team-up to keep you safe from danger, aka risky things. Great if it stops you from trying to sky dive without a parachute or to ski the blacks your first time out. The reaction in your body, that nervous stomach or tight throat, is your body’s physical reaction to risk intended to get you to stop and take notice. Everyone gets the same physical reaction to risk—it’s part of being human. Like I said, it all works great when life and limb are on the line. The rub is that our physical risk-reaction gets triggered even when it’s only a bruised ego on the line.
See, I was right!
When your body gets you to stop and take notice of a risk, your mind is supposed to analyze the risk and decide whether or not it’s a real danger. Since ego is at risk all the time and since we have a natural tendency to play it safe, your mind starts to produce all sorts of good reasons to turn and run—even if there really isn’t any danger. With your mind reinforcing your body’s response, it gets really hard to take chances.
It all comes down to the definition of risk. As we get older and experience more and more, your intentions for the future change and without changing your definition of risk, you’ll be stopped from getting what you want without really understanding why. Here’s an example of how the wrong definition of risk can mess up a great intention.
Sorry I Played it Safe
Let’s say your goal is to be in a loving relationship. Successful relationships require honest and free communication. You’ll need to be able to express your thoughts and needs and to be open and able to respond to your partner’s thoughts and needs. But each time you think of expressing a need to your partner, you feel a physical risky feeling and your mind jumps in to reinforce things. Your mind says, “Stop! Don’t say anything because you’ll look too needy or like a complainer and he’ll dump you!” Your mind even gives you past examples of disappointments like this so you’ll keep quiet and play it safe. The powerful combination of physical stomach churning, tight throat, and fearful thoughts packs a powerful punch!
How would staying quiet in this situation serve you?
Staying quiet keeps you safe from the risk of rejection or embarrassment–that’s good, but it comes at a high price. The price you pay is ending up lonely or staying in a bad relationship. Your short-term ego isn’t worth it.
You’re at risk — so what!
You won’t have a loving and open relationship if you stay quiet. The only way you’ll ever have it is to chance speaking your mind.
This isn’t just some random example; it is reality for many women I coach. Far too many wonderful and giving people trade their dreams for short-term ego. That is a crappy trade. Fear is responsible for many needlessly lonely people.
Knowing Why = Courage to Try
Once a person understands the trade equation, she’s given all the good reasons for taking a chance and speaking up, and that’s what I mean by updating your definition of risk. Once you see that the pain of loneliness is worse than maybe looking needy, you’ll start talking and actually get somewhere. Let your risk-reaction go to work for you with your new definition of risk and watch how quickly your life can change.