8 Risks That Seem Scary But Are Totally Worth It
Life is short, and you only get one to live. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations or relationships that seem difficult to navigate or that make us uncomfortable. Risks are inherently hard to take because they challenge you to grow and change, and that can be scary and uncertain. But with the risk comes the reward. You open yourself up to new opportunities and experiences, learn new skills or come away with epic stories. Here are eight different risks absolutely worth taking in your life to better yourself and those around you. And don’t forget to enjoy the journey.
1. Challenge Yourself to Do Something You Think You Can’t
Have you ever had a friend run a marathon, sign up for a new degree or volunteer to go overseas and thought, “I wish I could do that, but I’m not brave enough.” But you are brave enough! Most of the boundaries we believe exist are self-taught. They come from ideas and thoughts we have about ourselves that we make up. These thoughts, termed “dysfunctional thoughts” in cognitive behavioral therapy, build barriers to what you think you can and can’t do. And they often limit you in fulfilling all that you can accomplish. So what is it that someone else has done or something that you’ve always wanted to try but didn’t think you could? Write that down on a piece of paper or in your journal. Now make that your goal. Sign up for a race. Enroll in classes toward your degree. And start making moves. You can do anything you put your mind to; you just have to start changing your thoughts and the behavior will follow.
2. Rebound After Rejection
No one likes the feeling of being rejected. No one likes getting turned down by others. When you hear the word “rejection,” do you cringe and think of that one time that you said or did something that caused you to lose out on an opportunity or relationship? We all deal with challenges and losses that don’t go according to our plans. Rejection from others -- whether it be in the workplace or from your spouse, child or friend -- can really drag you down. Losing a game, not getting your top choice for graduate school or losing to another candidate for a job can make you question your worth. But stop right there. Rejection, loss and adversity mold you into a stronger version of yourself. So rock rejection. Own it. Let it push you to the next level of change. And don’t let it discourage you, because it has the ability to teach you as you overcome and defeat it.
3. Dare to Be Authentically You
You rock. You are the only and best version of you. Have you ever stopped to think about that? Do you own anything that’s an original or one-of-a-kind item? You are just that, an original artwork hanging in the Museum of Modern Art. However, as a society, we are programmed to look to others to figure out what’s trending, what’s in style, what’s cool. The media is full of television shows telling you how to dress. Social media has bloggers and photographers barraging you with ideas on how to put an outfit or makeup look together. The biggest risk you’ll ever take in life is to be authentically you. So try dressing exactly how you want to dress, with no thought to Pinterest or Instagram. Try making choices for yourself that aren’t what everyone around you is doing. See what that does for your soul and self-esteem.
4. Let Go of Unhealthy Relationships
Are you in a relationship that you know you shouldn’t be in? Are you hanging on to a dream of changing roles in your job, but you know deep down that your boss will never promote you? Is it time for you to move to a new city or look for a new job? Making “adult” decisions that impact the rest of your life can feel daunting at times. Change creates interpersonal chaos and sometimes a small amount of grief. Even when change is for the better, we still must go through a letting-go or grieving process. This is why you may have found yourself in a situation that you know isn’t the best thing for you, but you still haven’t let go. Let it go. You know what’s best for you. Take the leap of faith, make the change and begin grieving. You’ll be stronger and healthier in the long run, and it will all get better with time.
5. Embrace Difficult or Uncomfortable Conversations
Let’s face it: Relationships are hard. Do you ever find yourself trying to figure out how your significant other would feel if you said something to them? Do you have items you want to address with a friend that you’re too scared to face? Do you construct possible conversations in your head with family members before actually talking to them? Human connection is challenging because we’re constantly hypothesizing how others perceive us and what they want from us. We’re conditioned to make assumptions about life without even knowing the truth. This makes you afraid to open your heart and share what you need to get out. Think about something you’ve wanted to tell someone, a chance you’ve wanted to take in getting to know someone or something you’ve been meaning to ask. Take the risk -- let it out. Sharing your true feelings allows you to be genuine to yourself. If the person on the receiving end doesn’t respond the way you were hoping, you have approximately 7 billion other people in the world to try connecting with instead. So keep it real.
6. Allow Yourself to Feel the Full Spectrum of Emotions
We live in a society that’s comfortable with exchanging smiles, handshakes and hugs. The first words a person says to you when approaching is typically, “Hi! How are you?” You’re expected to answer, “Fine. How are you?” Have you ever thought of that? You’re conditioned to brush your true feelings under the rug daily. In a professional setting, you put down personal issues to get through the daily grind. This is appropriate because you are getting tasks done at work. But as a result of all of this societal conditioning, a lot of times people believe they shouldn’t or can’t feel anything besides happiness. There are seven basic universal emotions, according to psychologist Paul Ekman, which include happiness, sadness, surprise, fear, anger, disgust and contempt. Those who have emotional intelligence, or are best at recognizing how they feel, are better able to adjust to life’s challenges, adapt to their situations and overcome obstacles. So instead of ignoring all feelings except happiness, allow yourself to feel everything. When you are true to yourself, the best parts of you come out over time. Plus, refusing to acknowledge negative emotions only leads to further frustration and poor emotional health down the line.
7. Never Give Up on Something You Truly Want
How many times have you decided you were going to do something and didn’t? Have you ever felt like you deserved a raise, but you just couldn’t get up the courage to ask for one? Have you tried to start a company and fallen short because you were afraid? Did you ever think about applying to college or moving to a new place but saw it as only a distant dream? If you ask most successful people what the key to their accomplishments was, they will say they never gave up. A type of evidence-based treatment, solution-focused therapy, concentrates on questions that ask people about their lives in the absence of problems they’re dealing with. For example, what would your life be like if you had already asked for that raise, applied to that Ivy League school or become the owner of a business? What would you do if you were no longer afraid? You have the skills within you to stay motivated and goal-oriented. The first and most important goal in life is to never give up.
8. Fall in Love With Yourself
That’s right. This can be one of the hardest things to do in life. When most people list things they love about their spouse or best friend, words come flowing from their mouths. When they list things about themselves, most times they get stuck. Even people in the professional sports world have a tendency to talk about things they can do in sports, but fall short in coming up with a list of things they love about themselves, not just who they are as athletes. As children, we learn our identity through those around us. And parents, teachers and coaches spend time telling you how great, smart and strong you are. Then you hit a point in development when you start listening to the kids on the playground that tell you you’re not really all that special. You internalize these negative references about yourself, and they become your reality. Think of the first time you got called something mean. Do you still hold on to that as your truth? It’s time to let that all go. Write a list of your accomplishments and things people like about you. Start believing these and fall in love with yourself.
What Do YOU Think?
What risks have you taken lately? Have you signed up for a race you thought you couldn’t run? Taken time off to travel the world? Started or ended a new relationship? Had a difficult conversation with a coworker or friend? Are there others you would add? Share your thoughts, suggestions and stories in the comments section below!