I will admit it: I have usually been the person who seeks comfort over challenge.
In a workout class when the instructor suggests a lighter weight, a slower pace, or to break early; you better believe that I took those options. I always rationalized it as, “I’m listening to my body”. And in some cases this was true, but if I’m being honest, it was me staying in my comfort zone. It was too painful to “not be good” at something and not worth the risk of not appearing competent, so I stayed at the level that made me feel good about myself. I really can’t blame myself for choosing this option, and neither should you. Blame is a waste of time, but increasing insight is not. So let’s explore more about why this is the choice many of us make and how we can take steps to improve rather than settle.
This choice to do something different or stay the same is rooted in the strength of your self-view. Do you have a solid or fragile image of yourself?
Think about it this way: if you had to carry an egg with you throughout your day, you would probably walk very carefully and mindfully, making every effort not to crush it. If you had a rock to carry instead, you really wouldn’t worry how reckless or daring your decisions were. You see the comparison I’m making? More risks can be taken when you have a rock-solid self-concept.
Okay so now that we know the reasons why it may be hard for us to take risks, how can we overcome the resistance to doing so?
Recognize your variety of strengths, improve your support system, and align your daily acts with promoting goodness in the world. Sounds like a tall order, right? All of that can take years to achieve, so do not despair, there is an Option #2 to improving your ability to push yourself.
Separate yourself from your ego. Your ego is everything you think you should be and everything you are desperately trying to portray to others. It’s all the stuff you post about on your social media. It’s anything that follows the phrase, “I am…” “I am successful”, “I am a good writer”, “I am a hard worker”.
What’s confusing is that the “I am” phrases are what help us develop a strong self-image, but at the same time keep us stagnant. We start to become so attached to our strengths, that we can’t bear the idea of having them questioned. For example, if you believe “I am a good runner”, but then one day you run up hill to *try something new*, but you have to stop running halfway up the hill, you are then faced with the uncomfortable thought, “am I actually a good runner!?!?!?” That darn risk just threw everything off! And if you are anything like me, the spiral of negativity has been set in motion, and now all the things that I never thought I was good at come flooding in to my mind and I feel awful about myself! But let’s get to the solution.
Change the “I am” statements to: “I enjoy…”.
“I enjoy running”, “I enjoy writing”, “I enjoy working hard”.
This allows for a less results-based approach to life and a more ENJOYMENT focused day!
Re-wording your inner voice to “I enjoy”, gives space for you to incorporate challenges. If your identity isn’t being overthrown during a new experience, it is easier to remain solid and explain the discomfort as a fleeting experience, rather than data that needs to be incorporated into your self-view. So that run uphill that previously exposed you to self-doubt, is now phrased as, “I enjoy running, but running uphill is hard”.
Your activities do not define you. Your job doesn’t define you. Your public image doesn’t define you. You are free to act, feel, and think according to the present moment without having to prove yourself to anyone, or most of all to yourself. We often find the need to convince ourselves that we are strong, smart, or caring so that we can keep feeding the ego. Untether yourself from the definition of who you ARE. Live to ENJOY. And you will uncover your full potential.