How many times have we avoided taking risks because we were afraid of the outcome? Is it the uncertainty that holds us back from taking a leap of faith? Or, is it just our imagination that loves to play tricks on us? Better yet, how do we know when to take those risks? I presume many of these questions have crossed our minds at some point in our lives. That is why I have decided to share what I have learned about taking risks throughout my personal journey. After a series of good and bad experiences, I have come to the conclusion that we humans are hardwired to two things: comfort zones and masking vulnerability.
Great things never came from comfort zones.— Anonymous
Our brains are designed to intuitively protect us from danger, whether it knows the outcome based on a previously lived experience or not. It is ultimately – the fear of the unknown – we start freaking out about a decision or a choice which we are yet to face. Walking through a dark alleyway alone at night we are likely to feel this way it is human nature. Centuries of instinct telling us to run from danger and quite frankly we should be glad it does so! Where the issues begin to form is when we find ourselves attached to what gives us feel a sense of comfort and certainty. Courage soon diminishes and we are soon smothered by comfort zones – we forget how to expand our horizons. Whilst it is human nature at its core, these same comfort zones hold us back from discovering who we really are and what we truly want.
For example, if you’ve ever wanted to go skydiving, then you’ve probably heard about how life changing this experience was for people who did it despite the fact of how frightening it is until the last few seconds before jumping off the plane,This is why we tend to get attached to what gives us feel a sense of comfort and certainty, rather than diving into a dark tunnel. Whilst it is totally understandable it is these comfort zones that can often hold us back from amazing things such as discovering who we really are and what we truly want.
Vulnerability is not about winning or losing. It’s having the courage to show up even when you can’t control the outcome.— Brené Brown.
The feeling that things might get out of control is for sure one of the greatest obstacles holding us back from taking a step into the unknown, isn’t it? Well that’s only part of the picture, but if you continue to dig deeper you’ll find that another root cause is related to the fact that we are trying so hard to mask our vulnerability. We push ourselves into negative states to NOT look “weak”, NOT “lose” or NOT “fail”. Vulnerability in itself is not about these standards of success, but rather having the courage to stand up in the midst of uncertainty no matter what the consequences might be. Can you imagine how many opportunities, relationships and ambitions were missed due to our misconception of vulnerability that was formed after decades of such upbringing in our society?
We must have courage to bet on our ideas, to take the calculated risk, and to act. Everyday living requires courage if life is to be effective and bring happiness.— Maxwell Maltz.
Start with baby steps, I learned that knowing which risk to take is as much important as taking risks; It would be stupid to rush into the ocean whilst you are fully aware that there are hungry sharks ready to devour you. Wouldn’t it be smarter to find another bay or swimming pool? Learn how to pick your battles and thus the difference between courage and madness. Often the smallest step out of your comfort zone is courageous enough. You don’t have to jump off a building, but you can start by evaluating where you are in life and what areas you are struggling with. Life is all about making a conscious decision to invest in yourself. If you struggle with fitness think of small steps you can take to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you have a lack of courage or dislike the unknown, start small, try planning a solo trip to a nearby town then explore a foreign destination.
Be confident that the smallest act of letting down your guard is also an act of courage and personal growth. Accepting your vulnerabilities is NOT a sign of weakness. You don’t have to share your personal history with everyone who bumps into your path, but through slow movements of vulnerability, acts of trust, and the steady stacking of time, we can find ourselves slowly achieving personal development.
Whilst exploring London earlier this year, I found my gaze drifting up to a simplistic statement painted on a nearby building, “Take Courage”. Little did I know three months later I would be moving continents and starting a blog =)
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