First, a caveat:
When I say that risks are worth taking, I mean considered risks, not rash or impulsive ones.
To me, the riskier and scarier ones are emotional risks.
Those are the ones that make us break out in a cold sweat just thinking of it.
The thing that marks out emotional risks is fear – fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of ridicule, fear of failure, fear of blame, fear of being perceived as selfish and especially fear of not being good enough.
I have to confess, I’m more intimately acquainted with fear than I would like to be.
It was mostly fear of feeling selfish as well as the fear of the unknown that kept me in my marriage for 37 long unhappy years.
It was fear that kept me in a job where I was being bullied because I believed nobody would ever hire me again.
It was fear that kept me hidden behind far too many masks – pretending to feel happy when I wasn’t, that I could handle something when I didn’t, that I was feeling confident when I was scared.
But the worst fear of all was allowing others to see me. I was convinced that, if they saw the real me, they would run away screaming.
It was with my life coach Alan’s support and encouragement that I began to take risks.
When ‘life’ happened – being made redundant while Jim, my ex-husband, was already unemployed, leaving my marriage and having to learn to fend for myself – were blessings in disguise.
I was forced into positions where I had to dig deep to access my courage and deal with situations that were unfamiliar to me.
Eventually, there came a time where I began to initiate change in really scary circumstances.
The main one was leaving the Institute of Directors where I’d been for over 7 years to follow my heart which was starting my own personal relationships coaching practice.
That meant giving up a well-paying job for the unknown. It took me a year before I finally dared take that step!
But the biggest risk of all was to make myself emotionally vulnerable when I’d always been a ‘hero’ – never asking for help, pretending I could handle everything, coming across as someone who didn’t need anybody and having it all sussed out.
I believed that that would make me appealing because I was convinced that the last thing anybody wanted was someone needy and demanding.
How wrong I was! Without realising it I was keeping love at bay!
The latest risk I took was allowing myself to be loved.
When we first got together Dave wanted to show his love by doing things for me, things that I’d been doing for myself for the last 10 years.
At first, letting him do these things felt a little like losing a part of myself. Now I love and appreciate everything he does for me but this was something I had to learn.
Allowing him to see me, warts and all, felt very risky. It turned out my ‘warts’ and vulnerabilities make him love me even more! Go figure.
So here’s my question for you.
If you knew you had nothing to lose, what would you do differently?