Why do we fear challenging ourselves in new areas of our life? We have dreams, ambitions – things we’d love to see if we can do, see if we’d love them as much as we think we would. Yet we don’t try. We’re just not “that person”. We talk it ourselves out of it, out of LIVING, of doing, of experiencing. We’re not good enough, not capable, or, you know, it probably wouldn’t be that great after all that work…
As adults we feel we must know that we will like and be successful at something before we even want to invest ourselves in it.
We fear being judged as inadequate if we suck at it.
We fear being judged as a quitter if we don’t like it as much as we thought.
Since our own personal sense of value (how others judge us) is on the line, then there is a risk if we fail. If we are going to enter into that risk, we want to “know” in advance of whether or not we will be good enough. E.g. if we will ‘succeed’.
But if it is new, then we cant “know” we’ll be good enough.
And because there are such high stakes, we generally talk ourselves out of trying in order to save ourselves the risk of ‘failure’ from it.
But, there is no failure. Failure is another term for learning.
I learned this when I decided, at the age of 39 and having zero musical experience or skills from my past, to learn how to play the guitar. I didn’t know if I would be any good, I might be terrible, and I felt like if I ‘tried’, then I’d be committed to keep practicing until I was judged as “good at it”. But why, exactly, should that have any bearing on giving it a shot? Why, as adults, can we not try things just to be horrible at them? Why do we have to know in advance that we will be “good” in order to just want to experience challenging ourselves and our bodies in new ways to try something new? When I first got on that bike as a child, of course I was “horrible” – e.g. I sure fell off a lot. But that didn’t stop me – it was almost as if I accepted it …. as a part of the process.
Yes, failure is a part of the process. Babies and children know this instinctively. They learn to crawl and walk – they don’t hesitate and fear failure and judgement. They just do it. They know that falling is part of the learning and life-exploration process.
When we are challenging ourselves to grow, we are in unknown territory. We don’t know the result in advance. Because it is a NEW EXPERIENCE for us. The purpose IS the new experience, of doing something even when you don’t have a comfort zone that tells you what the result will be. The purpose is not to project to the end result and know how other people will have judged you for doing it. That is actually irrelevant. And in the process, we have put all our focus outside of ourselves. Fulfillment of living a rich life comes from finding our way back inside ourselves, to enjoy new experiences AS the challenge that they are. To be drawn to do new things in life just to BE in the doing of them, not projecting into what the result will be when it is over.
Turns out, I actually AM terrible at playing the guitar. And that’s okay! I don’t need to be good at something to just enjoy doing it sometimes.
What about you? What is something you’ve always wanted to try – just for the experience of it? …. and let that be enough.