How do you show up in your world? Either we play it safe, small, and comfortable in the mundane and comfortable, shut the world and people out entirely, or live a life of vitality, which requires risk, discomfort, and growth. Many are pretty content with staying comfortable; our brains naturally want predictability and ease, but the trade-off is stunted potential and isolation. For those learning, growing, and evolving, the payoff is a fulfilling career, deep relationships, and the ability to go after your dreams. However, risk, fear, and uncertainty are the trade-offs for a life like that.
Life is sometimes hard, full of hardships, loss, and trauma. Our response to those experiences is what creates our trajectory in life.
Those who put up walls and don’t work through these experiences are the ones that play it safe and do not take risks. There is now a belief that there is no safety, fear of failure, feeling powerless, or not good enough. It is not the experiences that keep us stuck; it’s the belief we’ve formed about ourselves and the world. Those who move through these experiences by feeling, talking, trusting, and getting support are the ones who are more likely to live a life full of risk-taking, growth, and fulfillment. It is not because individuals like this have a unique superpower gene or secret to life. Instead, it is the belief they hold about themselves: I can protect myself, trust, empower myself, and am good enough.
There is a secret to this, though. Being brave is key to living a life that brings you to true fulfillment, purpose, and depth, the secret sauce. And, to be brave means you will experience anxiety and fear because no one ever “feels” brave they take action despite fear because they know that no matter what happens, they can protect, trust, and empower themselves to get through any challenges ahead.
No one ever regrets being brave. Regret comes from not doing something you should have done or doing something you shouldn’t have done. That word is difficult for many because we often think of some heroic act that must happen to be brave, but that’s not the case. Bravery takes many forms. It’s having difficult conversations and being vulnerable. Saying I love you first. Being convicted enough to change your beliefs even if your community doesn’t approve. It’s starting your own business when you could stay comfortable financially but miserable emotionally in your current job. It’s setting boundaries. Allowing yourself to be in that photo. Being wrong. Embracing your weirdness and the list goes on. When walking into my office for the first time, I always tell my clients that they are the brave ones. Being brave is when freedom truly begins.
As psychologist Carl Rogers said, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” Growth can’t happen if there isn’t a willingness to examine all of who you are. For actual change and healing to happen, we must accept all aspects of our character, behavior, and mind. Be completely honest and vulnerable with ourselves. At this point, courage takes the driver’s seat, and shame, mediocrity, and unfulfillment can take the backseat.
Those brave enough to take an honest look at their lives and accept responsibility for their well-being will find healing. No amount of security and comfort is worth a predictable and mundane life that has now killed our dreams.