Today I made a “big” choice that made me uncomfortable.
I allowed my children to go with my sister and her son to a trampoline park.
Sounds like nothing to some, but I don’t often allow the kids to do “risky” things like jump around and do flips—especially with other people, especially given the state of the world.
I’ve given in from time to time, but it has taken a lot of consideration and encouragement. Especially with my youngest son who is fearless and loves a thrill, which I believe puts him more “at risk.”
Yes, we’ve often had sleepovers, and frequently have lots of kids in our home, but my children have almost never left our home—at least without being within our sight, or influence.
I realized though, only recently, that while this may keep them “safe,” it’s kept both myself and my children from building a supportive network and community. It’s kept me from feeling loved, and likely kept my children from feeling loved, too.
Life has so much to offer each of us, and yet we often hold ourselves back, “hiding” from our fears.
We retreat into a shell where we feel “safe.” But where there is risk, there is life.
Every day, we risk a variety of injuries to simply walk outside. But we still go.
We have to choose to let our guards down, open our hearts, and truly be present to the gifts being offered to us in each moment or exchange.
To genuinely love and connect is to take a risk: to reach out; to believe in ourselves or somebody else; to trust it all, inside and out; to let a loved one see the dark corners and spaces of our lives; to undress and expose ourselves; to give ourselves up to or for other beings—all of that takes guts.
Even the choice to live according to our own truth takes guts.
It all means letting go of what keeps us safe.
Staying “safe” in our shell or within our comfort zone is only living half a life. We hold back from opportunities in exchange for our illusion of safety, security, and stability. But this means only having access to what we’ve had so far—what we’ve already lived, the love we’ve already had. We limit our potential. If we open up, a whole new world and way of life is available to us.
Maybe we are scared to “have it all” and lose it. Maybe we don’t think we deserve it. Maybe we don’t know how to take it in—how to receive.
Whatever is our challenge in embracing risk, one thing is for sure: somewhere along the way, we lost our openness and even-flowing exchange between ourselves and live, love, or trust.
At some point in life, we experienced a disconnection—a time and place where we were severed from something we had thought was stable and unchanging—likely from a traumatic experience. So, we instinctively closed the open wound to keep from metaphorically bleeding out. Perhaps we didn’t heal perfectly, and we formed some scar tissue.
We survive, we smile, we move on, we continue functioning, but life feels bleak, dark, and empty. There is a hard barrier where we once were soft.
Yet, we are only a doorway from all that we could ever dream of or imagine. We just have to make the choice to open the door. We have to let go of the need to feel “safe.”
How can we heal this situation within us?
Baby steps. We can start with one action, every day, that moves us closer to whatever we’d like to be more open to.
When comfortable with that, we can try two or three actions (or choices) per day that move us closer to whatever we’d like to be more open to.
What kind of choices or actions we choose will differ from person to person.
Maybe it’s chatting with the next-door neighbor, or calling an old friend.
Maybe it’s going to the library or gym and striking up a conversation with a stranger, or meeting another mom or dad for coffee.
Maybe it’s going to the gym or a new yoga class.
Maybe it’s saying “no” instead of “yes;” maybe it’s saying “yes” instead of “no”—letting our kid go to the trampoline park.
If we make the choice to do this every day, a transformation is inevitable.
No, it’s not comfortable to expand beyond the safety of our shell, or to stretch out our own rigidities. It is only natural to have some fear or resistance. But we’re the ones who made up these rules, and we’re the ones who can break free from them, too.
To let go is to grow. This is our evolution.
It takes great courage to move beyond our former capacity. This is self-mastery. It is the hero’s journey. We will be lead to the path of our dreams. But not without a cost.
First, the armor has to come off.