How many of life's decisions have we each made based on fear and our need for certainty? We might gain peace of mind by knowing exactly what will happen but on the flip side, it’s also very limiting. It’s possible to squeeze more out of life and still feel some sense of safety. It’s a two-step process: testing our limits and recalibrating.
Test our limits
Each of us has a natural balancing point between safety and risk. We might be willing to jump from a three-foot ledge but not a six-foot ledge. Somewhere between three feet and six feet is the tipping point, the point at which we are uncomfortable taking the risk.
The first step is to test our limits. It will allow us to locate the tipping point. Do we want to try jumping from four feet? Or perhaps start with three feet six inches and work our way up. You see, we can find our limits any way you want. It’s usually not an “all or nothing” proposition. We can just try a little of what we believe makes us nervous and test it.
By testing our limits, we might learn that we are capable of more than we think. Not surprising, right? Yet we all go through life making assumptions about our limits, forcing tight boundaries around us that are unnecessary. When we loosen up these boundaries, we have more room to breathe. More room to be curious. More room to grow.
Second, we'll want to recalibrate. With this process, we move the tipping point. If we continue to jump just a little beyond our comfort zone each time, we will feel more and more comfortable with every jump. Before we know it, it will require a greater height to make us feel uneasy. That’s recalibrating.
We recalibrate in life all the time. We change our concept of our ideal weight as we move from youth to age 20, 30, and 40. We change our concept of quality, such that the “expensive” watch we bought at age 10 with our allowance may not seem so cool at age 16. We adjust to life’s changing framework.
If you’ve ever been around successful individuals who seem immune to problems that would be difficult for rest of us, that immunity is simply each person’s recalibration in action. Their definition of what constitutes a problem has evolved over time as they’ve exposed themselves to more challenging situations. They can handle more, because it doesn’t feel overwhelming. They have adjusted.
What is the next big decision you want to make in your life? Look at the options available to you and identify the fears and risks that you associate with each one. You can’t always jump off a ledge to test your limits, so perhaps sit down with a pencil and paper and jot down some thoughts about each option. See if you can find your tipping point, being completely honest with yourself, rather than making general assumptions about your capability. Then check whether any of your options become more possible and less frightening.
Now, still looking at the options available to you, consider a way to engage in one or more activities that seem a bit risky or make you uncomfortable. Go beyond that need for certainty and explore just a bit. That means going to a Weight Watchers meeting despite embarrassment, attending the neighborhood book club meeting despite a lack of acquaintances, and asking someone out on a date, despite the fear of rejection. If you survive the first time, try it a second time. Then a third. Focus on the aspects of the activity that are pleasurable. This will allow you to build up some tolerance for the uncomfortable part and soon you may find that you have recalibrated and can actually enjoy yourself due to your new perspective. What was hard becomes easy. What was scary begins to feel safe.
So get over yourself already Fear is all about not knowing what is going to happen. Success is all about embracing uncertainty and learning to feel safe in the process.
What fears are you ready to put aside? Start now and experience a fuller life with more fun and adventure along the way. Don’t miss out!