A participant at a workshop I once ran shared that one of her goals for the new year was to cook a five star omelette. Not only was it her goal for this year. It had been her goal for the past three years. Yet she had never made any progress toward cooking up her dream egg concoction.
Upon hearing this the other workshop attendees jumped in with advice about how to cook an omelette. They shared their best tips. They offered her youTube. They told her they would come to her house and show her how to do it. Their support was lovely to see. And in fact, having a buddy to support her with her first omelette experience would have likely helped her to knock this goal off her list straightaway.
But as we talked more it became apparent that she knew the steps of making an omelette. The real issue at hand was that she was scared.
Apparently her husband was an excellent cook. She was frightened that she would try to make an omelette, mess up, and her husband would make fun of her. She was worried that she would waste food if she didn’t get it right on her very first try. These fears kept her paralyzed.
You may be laughing. Really? Omelette fears? It sounds ridiculous. We’re not talking about bungee jumping here. The physical danger inherent in omelette making is pretty low. She wasn’t going to get hurt.
The nature of her fear, and of many of our fears in the modern world, actually stemmed from psychological risk, not physical risk. Psychological risks involve putting ourselves out into the world and being honest about who we are and what we want.
What we’re really scared of when we take a psychological risk is the feelings we may have to endure as a result of our actions. Rejection. Disappointment. Discomfort.
There is not any inherent danger in experiencing an uncomfortable feeling. The next time you have a strong emotion try sitting with it. Feel the emotion in your body.
Guess what? The physical repercussions of our emotions only last for about 90 seconds.
Then there’s the flip side of taking a psychological risk. When you ask someone out and they say yes. Or when you set a boundary in a relationship and it winds up working out. Or when you tell people about your new career idea and they respond with knowledge of just the right connection. Exhilaration. Delight. Surprise.
Avoiding psychological risks can often wind up being more painful than taking them. It’s a duller pain, but it lasts much longer. Taking psychological risks won’t kill you. They actually bring your world to life.