When Was the Last Time You Did Something That Scares You?
“Try it, maybe you’ll like it,” a parental figure probably pronounced to you at the dinner table some time during your youth.
Your young brain, fueled by the anticipation of disgust, immediately kicked up reasons to avoid the offending food.
Maybe you claimed to have tried it and disliked it. Perhaps you asserted that it is similar to something else you dislike and so, by extension, you obviously wouldn’t have liked that either. Regardless, the internal narrative is woven around the idea that you do not like that food.
Some parents refuse to back down and a battle of wills ensues, a parent’s conviction butting up against a child’s expectations. The longer the battle continues, the firmer the conviction becomes. And even if the parent wins at the dinner table, the expectations of disgust usually make the assumed aversion a reality (at least as far as the child is willing to admit!).
And the chosen narrative is reinforced.
Other caregivers step back, refraining from pushing their child. The more timid children are content to stay within their comfort zones. To stay safely tucked within their beliefs. They enter adulthood having never truly tried that particular food, yet firm in their conviction that it is not for them.
The chosen narrative is reinforced.
Other youngsters are more adventurous and eventually volunteer to try the previously offered food at some point. Perhaps, upon the sampling, they decide that they don’t like the selection. But this time, it’s based on experience rather than expectations. And strangely, even though they don’t prefer the item, it has lost it’s power. It no longer requires so much energy to avoid.
The narrative has been adjusted.
And sometimes, the tentative taste results in a surprise appreciation and what was once avoided now becomes sought after or at least tolerated. The once-enemy has been reduced to simply another item on the menu.
And the narrative has been adjusted.
As adults, we rarely react so strongly to strongly to offered foods and hopefully we avoid power struggles about what we choose to eat. But we still react in this same childish way when it comes to those things that we fear.
Think of the amount of emotional and physical energy you have expended over your lifetime simply to avoid what scares you. Consider the excuses your brain kicks up about why that is something that you “can’t” do. Reflect on how your fear has become woven into the tapestry of your being, becoming part of how you see yourself.
The only way to change the narrative surrounding your fears is to face them. Perhaps you find that it really is something that continues to cause you undo distress or maybe, just maybe, you discover that it really isn’t that big of a deal after all. But regardless, once it is faced, it loses the power that avoidance gives it because our imaginations almost always make the anticipation worse that the actuality.
So, when was the last time you did something that scares you?
When was the last time you refused to expend your energy on avoidance and instead decided to invest it in achievement?
When was the last time you challenged your assumptions about yourself and allowed for an opportunity to refine your internal narrative?
Just try it. Maybe you’ll like it.