The Courage to be Authentic – Risk Taking

What could be riskier than diving out of an airplane or climbing a glacier-covered peak or accelerating a race car into a curve at the Indy 500?

For one person it might be quitting a secure, well-paying job to go back to school. For another, it could be deciding to leave a marriage after 18 years or reporting that the company they work for is endangering the environment or people’s lives.

Though it may not appear so at first glance, psychological risks that summon us to put our personal values and beliefs on the line may ultimately feel more dangerous than those of physical derring-do. Yet these are the challenges that we are asked to face time and again if we are to continue to grow as individuals. Each time we take a risk that contributes to our personal growth or enhances our self-esteem or enriches our lives, we make the choice to stretch ourselves, knowing there are no guarantees and chancing possible failure.

Growth-producing risks generally fall into three categories.

Self-Improvement Risks

These are the risks you take when you want to get ahead, learn something new or make a distant dream a reality. You take on the venture with hopes of enriching your life. Maybe you want to change careers, or take singing lessons, or learn to speak French. On one side of the risk is the person you are and, on the other, the person you want to become.

Commitment Risks

All commitment risks have emotional stakes whether you pledge yourself to a person or a relationship or to a cause, a career, or a value. As you have probably read many times, if you avoid making emotional commitments, you all but guarantee that your emotional growth will be stunted.

Self-Disclosure Risks

Communication risks fall into the category of self-disclosure. Anytime you tell someone how you really feel you’re taking the chance of self-disclosure. When you open up to others and reveal who you really are, how you feel and what you want and need, you make yourself vulnerable. It is impossible to be assertive without doing so.

All risks carry with them the possibility of failure. Often significant sacrifices must be made before any real benefits are realized. Routines may have to change; the familiar may have to be released. You may face the feelings of rejection. In the case of commitment to a value, personal safety may be in danger. Consider those who stand up for what they believe in or put their own health and well-being on the line in the name of a cause. Challenging yourself is often the key to personal growth and development.

Are you a risk-taker? Ask yourself the following questions:

Does every decision involve endless debates with yourself?
Do you accept less than what you should because you’re afraid to speak up?
Do you have difficulty making emotional commitments to others?
Do you make up excuses that stop you from taking advantage of opportunities for self-improvement?
Does fear of disapproval keep you from doing what you’d really like to do?
A “yes” answer to these questions indicates a reluctance to take risks, which may mean you tend to play it safe and reject change.

Consider this: to fulfill your potential, to discover your real self and live an authentic life, you must take risks. And while security may appear to be the absence of change, the only genuine security lies in taking risks. And it is a risk really worth taking. There’s nothing more heart opening and exhilarating than living life your way.

Getting curious is a wonderful way to discover new ways of being. Let’s get curious together.

~~Brenda

Don’t Let Fear Stop You

Fear talks to people. And when they listen, this is what can happen:

Sheila loved to dance but she wouldn’t go out on the dance floor with her fiancé because she thought she’d look clumsy and ridiculous.

Arnie knew he deserved a raise, but he was so nervous about approaching his boss, he never asked for one.

Delia’s fear of bears was so great that she wouldn’t go on a camping trip with her friends. And their campsite wasn’t even in bear territory.

Fear is that voice inside our heads that says, you can’t, you shouldn’t, what if…. Fear keeps us from taking risks that might enrich our life or holds us back from doing some things we need to do. Experience new and exciting vistas? Accomplish something really great? Fear says, “Not on your life.”

This isn’t to say that fear is all bad. At its best it’s an instinctive, natural ability to help us survive. Without fear we might attempt to stroll across freeways or scratch behind a lion’s ears. But given the upper hand, fear can dominate our life and make even the innocuous—taking a walk or answering the phone—a daunting experience.

Ninety-nine percent of what we worry about never happens, according to Susan Jeffers, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. “There’s a voice inside our heads that’s always heralding doom and disaster even before we get started on something,” she says.

On its own, fear won’t disappear. Following are some strategies to help you deal with fears that might be holding you back from something you want or need to do.

Get information. In an information void, fear clicks in to do what it thinks is its job. But when you find out about what scares you, you replace fear with knowledge.
Learn how to do it. If there’s something you’d like to do, but you’re afraid to try, take lessons. We’re not born knowing how to ride horses or make pottery.
Find models. Let someone who’s not afraid model courage for you. Just as fearful behavior breeds the jitters, courageous behavior invites confidence.
Talk about your fears. Keeping your fears bottled up inside magnifies them. Taking them out into the light can shrink them. Find a good listener who won’t pooh-pooh your fears or make judgments.
Talk to yourself. Self-talk filled with positive messages can change fear energy into positive energy. Eliminate the cant’s, shouldnt’s and ought-tos from your self-talk vocabulary.
Use your imagination. Before you arrive at the party, imagine the other guests are as frightened as you are. Or see your audience as people who really want the information you have. Visualize yourself doing what you are afraid to do; see yourself as graceful, strong and capable.
Focus on the little things. Keep your mind on the details, not the Big Picture. Complete the report word by word, pay the bills one by one, see the group individual by individual.
Expand your comfort zone. Take a small risk each day. Make one phone call, ask for one thing you want, go to one new place. Little by little your confidence will expand, too.
Relax and breathe. Sometimes the physical response to fear creates even more fear. Physically relax your body and breathe in and out to release tension.
Ask for help. If your fears are pervasive or severe, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder, in which case you should definitely seek help. If your fears are not debilitating, but still get in the way of doing what you need or want to do, asking for help can make all the difference.
We can also have past life experiences that are showing up in this life adding to our fears or beliefs that we carry that aren’t even ours. Having an Akashic reading is a great way to get some information.

Getting curious is a wonderful way to discover new ways of being. Let’s get curious together.

~~Brenda

Are You Living with a “Victim” Mentality?

Old-fashioned melodramas featured hapless heroines who always seemed to find themselves tied to a railroad track or evicted from home into a fierce storm as the villain twirled his oily mustache. Only a white-hatted hero or the cavalry could rescue them as they cried, “Woe is me!”

Times of stress or a need to respond to fearful situations can stir up the victim in all of us.

No one likes to think of themselves as victims. It’s not a fun thought. I have found throughout my life that I have lived in that mentality. It serves a purpose for a time being yet it isn’t a place to stay. Do you agree?

Here’s a Thriving quiz to help you see if you’ve been carrying around a victim mentality that may be robbing you of your sense of personal power. Answer true or false to the following statements.

T /F – My first response to a setback is to blame someone else for what’s happened.

T /F – No matter what I do, things are not really going to change for me.

T /F – I often find myself beginning thoughts with phrases like “I can’t…,” “I’m no good at…” or “I’ve never been able to….”

T /F – When things go wrong, I tend to beat myself up.

T /F – Sometimes I’m lucky, but when bad things happen it’s because I messed up.

T /F – When angry, I rarely begin sentences with “I.”

T /F – Conversations with friends are often about how hard my life is.

T /F – When friends offer advice, I usually counter it with “Yes, but…” since they can’t know how difficult my situation really is.

T /F – I spend a fair amount of my time thinking about past failures and mistakes.

T /F – Other people usually cause me to feel the way I do. I’d be more centered if it weren’t for them.

T /F – I’m always so busy with work and the things I need to do to survive that I just don’t have time to do things I want to do for myself.

T /F – I’d like to exercise more and eat in a healthier way, but I just can’t right now.

T /F – If I weren’t tied down to all these obligations, I could really do some of the things I always think about doing.

T /F – Someday I’ll find a new partner who will really change my life. In the meantime, all I can do is hope.

T /F – I must have done something really horrible in a past life because nothing I do ever works out.

T /F – If only I had had more support, I could have… (fill in the blank.)

“Victimhood” is usually a way of staying stuck in old patterns and can be an externalizing way of dealing with unacknowledged anger or fear of change. If you answered true to more than a couple of these questions, chances are you’d benefit from a closer look at what’s happening in your life right now.

Getting curious is a wonderful way to discover new ways of being. Let’s get curious together.