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Risk Taking 101

Three Actions to Become the BOSS of Your Fears

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It’s quite comfortable to sit back and keep the status quo. After all, if you don’t rock the boat, you can’t fall into the sea. But without risk, there are few rewards.

You already know that taking risks is risky. To build up the courage, you need to master your fears. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds (especially in 2020). If you’ve spent the better part of your life with fear (aka a LOUD Worry Part), it could be deeply engrained in your subconscious, but it’s not impossible to change.

All you need now is the willingness to overcome your fears.  If you really want to stand up to your fears, there’s nothing that can stop you!

Here are three tips to ensure that fear doesn’t hold you back from the life you desire:

1. Welcome Your Fears.

Self-awareness and acceptance is a crucial step in keeping your fears in check.  You are NEVER going to get rid of worry completely, BUT you can learn coping tools to support you to tolerate the uncomfortable physical symptoms that go hand in hand.   When you can see your fears for what they really are (False. Evidence. Appearing. Real.); you’ll soon discover how strong you really are.

Let’s say you’re afraid of driving. If you’re ever in the driver’s seat your first response might be “Oh no! Get me out of here!” If you leave and return to safety this only reinforces the fear more.  Accept that the fear is real, but challenge yourself to approach the situation with courage AND DO NOT LEAVE THE CAR.  This is a crucial step because the more you stay in the situations you find scary, the faster your brain can re-learn that this activity will not kill you.  By NOT resisting the experience your body will return to equilibrium faster than you think.

2. Embrace the Unknown.

Many times, we’re afraid of something because it remains in the unknown. We might label something as risky because we don’t yet know or understand what’s going on.  It is so helpful to acknowledge which aspects of your life you have control over, as well as which ones you just need to accept for now.  By cultivating a mindful mindset you strengthen your ability to stay present and bring compassion to yourself since often it’s our desire to be “perfect” that stops us in our tracks.

An example would be avoiding college or starting a new job because you’re afraid of meeting new people, the workload, not feeling capable and so on. To stand up to this fear, you can get familiar with the environment, the courses/expectations, and the people so you can feel more comfortable and confident.  You also have to acknowledge that there will always be moments of uncertainty and shift your mindset to one of, “I enjoy surprises” Doing so may ease the fear of the unknown and give you a sense of relief.   

3. Challenge Your Thinking.

If you can shift the way you think about a certain situation, you’ll experience it differently. Your fears may overwhelm your thoughts at times, but your job is to acknowledge that it’s just your “worry part” and that you are stronger than that part of you.  People have what is called a “negativity bias”, which just means that we generally think about the worst-case scenario rather than assuming something will go well.  It’s NOT your fault you think this way; WE ALL DO!  Once you acknowledge this confidence-killing pattern you are one step closer to changing it.

For example, it’s common for people in jobs they hate to think “changing my job will just be too hard and what if the new job is just as bad as the old one?”.  A more empowering belief that you could practice might be, “Changing jobs can be hard, but I know that I have many strengths and trust that I can learn what ever skills I need to be successful”.  

Both of these statements could be true, BUT which one makes you feel more confident about taking the risk??

Shifting from Planning into Action

Most risks are quite minor, but risk accompanies nearly every decision you make. Once you feel you have some tools to help you to stand your fears, it’s time to do what scares you!

Here are a few pointers to help you get into a risk-taking mindset:

  • A “risk” may sound negative; instead, think of it as more of an “adventure” or “journey.”
  • Visualize a positive outcome.
  • Have a list of 10 positive affirmations you can practice right before you take action.
  • Tell someone what you are planning so they can hold you accountable & celebrate with you later.
  • When you’ve taken the leap, evaluate your experience with a mindful mindset so you can improve in the future.
  • Make sure that document and celebrate each time you take a risk.  It doesn’t matter how it turned out, just that you were brave enough to take action.

Putting it all Together

If you’re still feeling nervous, take baby steps. You can’t expect yourself to change drastically overnight, but at the same time you have to believe in yourself and believe that change is possible.  In my experience surrounding yourself with people who see your gifts and cheer you on is an essential part of taking action to follow your dreams. 

Overcoming fears and taking risks go hand in hand. Start small and dream big. You only have one journey on this earth, so you might as well make the most of it!

I believe in YOU!

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