Have you ever heard the idea that you are a totally different person every seven to ten years? The theory behind this being that your cells have a finite lifespan and are replaced by new ones. In the course of seven to ten years all your cells will have died and been replaced making you a completely different person, literally. I perused the internet on this subject and there are many articles that refute this claim (For instance, some stated that brain cells are not replaced when they die.....explains a lot, doesn't it?). Whether or not you take this literally, I am intrigued by the idea that we, as humans, evolve and change over the course of a lifetime. I think transformation is so fascinating. What triggers someone to take a chance, step out of their 'comfort zone' and take a step towards the unknown, all in an effort to change the course of their lives while others stay stuck and trapped by confines of their own making?
Big life events can precipitate change. Brushes with mortality, loss, and serious illness can certainly instigate life changes but you don't need a shocking life event to make a positive change in your life. So what is stopping you? (and by you, I also mean me!).
The most prominent thing that pops into my head is a simple four letter word that starts with an F. (No, not THAT one silly! Get your mind out the gutter!) The word is FEAR. We all have it from time to time. What is this and WHY??? The Dictionary.com definition of fear is "a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined". The truth of the matter is that I really dislike fear. I have asked myself many times why it has to exist but there is a reason for it. According to Psychology Today, fear is a "vital response to physical and emotional danger". If you think back to our more primitive selves, fear is a useful protective device. Imagine you reach out to touch fire because it looks pretty and you burn your hand. Fear is designed to prevent you from touching it again and getting burned. Practical, right? No one needs to get burned over and over again. Well, the same is true of our emotions. If you have ever experienced pain or rejection (and who hasn't?) you realize that it is something to avoid. Likely, you develop fear around situations in which you have experienced pain and or rejection in the past. At one time those fears were protecting you but what if those fears are no longer are serving your best interests and are, in fact, preventing you from reaching your true potential?
By this line of reasoning, let's say fear begins with some type of trauma (In our example, seeing a pretty light, touching it, then burning your hand). This trauma from bright light harming you is then transferred to a fear of the sun. Because you fear the sun, you decide to only go out at night which then limits your social interactions, job opportunities, and overall quality of life. While most people are able to use their logic and reasoning to balance out the fears, I chose this magnified example to illustrate the point that fears can be irrational and limiting, whether they are big or small ones.
I've mentioned before that I love to watch biographies and documentaries of people I admire. I am always searching for some type of pattern amongst them. What is the thing that makes them great. Obviously talent, maybe great genetics, or even superior intelligence. There never seems to be a set combination that defined all these great people but there is one thing that I noticed consistently; Each and every one of them experienced tremendous failures along with their successes but what differentiates them from the average joe is their unwavering ability to take chances OVER AND OVER despite multiple setbacks. They experienced plenty of fear but all had the unfailing drive to move through it and persist!!!
At the beginning of a new year we like to make promises of self improvement. Some popular ones are diet, exercise, and getting more organized, all of which are fantastic but how many times have you started your self improvement regime only to lose steam and fall right back into your old patterns? How about a different idea this year? Three little words that may just change your life path without a big traumatic life event. Want to hear it? DO SOMETHING SCARY. It is that simple. Take a chance. I'll bet there is something deep in your heart you want. You may not even know exactly what it is but it's there. Something you have always wanted, secretly, that feels scary yet a little exhilarating at the same time? A year ago at this time, I was afraid to show anyone my art (despite the fact that it has been a lifelong passion). My plan for the New Year is to continue in my pursuit to ignore the fear and keep on going. Keep doing 'scary things'! Wanna join me?
Let 2016 be the year you jump out of your comfort zone malaise and take a chance!! You never know what you might find. Each little step builds your confidence a little more until your fears take a backseat and you are one step closer to the version you that you want to be. Keep the goals and self improvement plans and add a dash of scary and I think we will be on to something good!