“What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”
I asked my classes that question this week during my lectures. Answers, not surprisingly, varied in egocentricity and depth. Some students wanted to marry celebrities, others to become rappers (to which I wished them the best of luck, really,) but as a whole, their responses referenced legitimate accomplishments. And, most notably, they were acts which the individual had not done yet almost entirely because because they were afraid they wouldn’t succeed.
Fear of being wrong. Fear of being hurt. Fear of not being the best, the winner, the most accomplished.
Ouch. Familiar territory, no?
Fear, and a scarcity mentality, are perhaps the biggest hurdles we face in our progression of self. There is an entire body of research emerging on just this premise, actually, and it has profound implications on how we raise our children and train them to respond to failure.
The key word in that statement, however, is train. The good news is, that just like an actual hurdling event, fortunately, we can train for this.
We have control over our own thoughts, habits, attitudes and beliefs. What we think, we become. The limits we place on our own success are our own cognitive creations; the boundaries of which can be stretched, if we choose to do so.
So, think about your comfort zone; particularly, expanding your comfort zone. How’s that going? Try anything new lately ? Do anything you’re afraid of, yet?
The teachers at my yoga studio are often quoted as saying some variation of the following:
“If it scares you a little bit, you should consider it. If it scares you a lot, then you should absolutely do it.”
I couldn’t agree more.
I read this, from zenhabits:
“Joy is an awesome thing to have, but joyfear is present in the powerful moments in life where joy and fear mix, where we’re taking chances and doing something outside of our comfort zone that both excites us and makes us face the possibility of failure.”
What are you doing today to bring a little joyfear into your life? What’s on your list? Why aren’t you doing it?
Not ready to dive into the big stuff? That’s okay, start small. Baby steps, uh, baby. Make subtle changes in your routine and your day. Try starting grocery shopping at the opposite end of the store. So scary, I know. You might, like, forget bananas if you don’t start in the produce aisle and then you’re just totally screwed, right? Or not.
Or, get really brave, and try a new place to drop half your paycheck on consumables. Calm the fuck down, I see your palms sweating and I gotta tell ya—panic over a grocery store swap is just silly. The checkers at Whole Foods won’t judge you if you shop at the Safeway down the street this week. Okay, that’s a lie, they totally will, but only because they miss you and your visa card so much.
Try a new restaurant. Try a new food. Eat a vegetable with a name you can’t pronounce. Talk to someone in line at Starbucks. Stop traffic for a pedestrian waiting in the crosswalk. Run an extra mile. Try a new class at the gym. Apply for a new job.
Sign up for a seminar or workshop to learn something new (or hear information you already knew, in a different way) and meet new people. Read out of your genre (permission to skip Teen Lit granted, unless you’re looking for a quick mind numbing read, then by all means, let the trilogy addiction commence).
Watch a Ted Talk instead of cruising through the queue on your DVR. Listen to an audiobook instead of music on your way to work. Go on a date, gulp. Even if you are married, go out with your spouse, on a weeknight, after 7 p.m., you wild things, you. Wear brightly colored pants (do this soon, before the trend is over and then you’ll really be getting out of your comfort zone to try it.)
Whatever you choose, do something that scares you.
Stop making excuses. Stop saying no. If you never take any risks, it will be difficult to grow.
In my classes, post discussion, I went a step further. I asked my students to look at what they had written again and consider this— “other than fear, what is stopping you from doing that right now?”
I asked them to write down three reasons preventing them from achieving that reality. That was the easy part. Next, I asked them what they were going to do about that. The final component to the lesson was to reflect on what they could do, today, right now, right there, to change that. What they could do to make progress toward that happening, starting this moment.
Well, there’s no moment like the present. Go move some mountains and shit.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Sarvasmarana Ma Nithya/Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo Credit: Pixoto/Javier A. Bedrina