Life is one big risk

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Get used to the unknown and you're on the pathway to peace, says Carole Ann Rice

It is one thing to get comfy with the unknown, but quite another thing to give it an expense account and let it live in your loft conversion.

Let's say you are browsing through holiday brochures and see "Cycling for Hard Nuts in Australia's Outback: Adventure! Excitement! The possibility of being bitten by little known venomous creatures with no known antidote!" That last part would throw you a bit, and you might skip to the one about a week in a Marbella luxury flat. Some might call it the softer option, but it will probably do what it says on the tin.

Life is not divided between those who are reckless and happy to plunge into the unknown, and those who feel disturbed to the point of row-making if the other half has bought the wrong brand of toothpaste. 

Sure we have traits which make some of us more inclined to take risks than others, but those who really have it sussed take calculated risks. They weigh up the pros and cons on any given situation and if they go for the riskier option, they wisely ask themselves, "What is the worst thing that could happen?"

  If it's really bad (say, loss of emotional or financial security) they may chose the known option. 

But for those who are not comfortable even thinking about the unknown don't need to become power sporting adrenaline addcits to get out of their comfort zone; they just need to start making small changes and see how that feels first.

If taking a different route to work leaves you with palpitations and putting your GP on speed dial, you need to ask yourself when did staying in the comfort zone become distinctly uncomfortable? 

As humans we are hard-wired to distrust the unknown. Just look at your colleagues' faces when they hear the company is under new management/has a new boss. Cynicism, fear, insecurity, panic and pessimism are the default responses.  Now the studies show we would rather the certainty of being bitten by aforementioned posisonous beasties than journeying into the unknown.   

University College of London conducted research where people were told they had either no chance of receiving an electrical shock, a 50% chance or they will be definitewly shocked.

Those who were told they had a 50% chance had a higher rate of anxiety than the rest as sheer dread of not knowing pushed up the stress ratings.   We do anything to avoid this feeling.  Not start businesses, ask out the dishy guy/gal, stay mired in dead end jobs and relationships sticking with the devil we know and grow to loathe his/her eating habits.

 Routine is good; regular exercise, paying bills on time, keeping yur home tidy.   But feeling enslaved by these things is not. When doing what you've always done starts to feel like a ball and chain with no hack saw in sight, it's time to start getting at ease with the unknown.

Here's some coaching tips to show you how:

  • Recall at time when you had to do something totally alien – i.e  new job, first date, learn to drive -  remember how quickly you coped
  • Replace fear with curiosity
  • Don’t catastrophise – ask yourself instead – what’s the best that can happen?
  • Decide what your legacy in life will be – one where you say – I have lived a life that’s full and adventurous or I paid off the mortgage and have regrets
  • Build in a contingency plan. I.e. if it doesn’t work out at least I’ve learned something/had a go/know now
  • Set yourself up with positive mantras – “I am a person who likes adventure”, “I can cope when things go wrong”, “It’s all a learning curve”.
  • Stop trying to control the future.  You are not a quantum physicist. 

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