By: Kathy Shalhoub
If I tell you to give tight-rope walking a shot, and show you a tight rope strung up 30 cm off the ground, I’m sure most of you would at least try it.
But if I put that rope on top of a high-rise and then ask, most people would think I’m insane and tell me to go to hell. Why? Because whenever we’re about to try something new, we weigh the risks, we see what we have to lose, and based on the cost (in this case, our lives!) we say ‘Yay’ or ‘Nay’.
Now that’s great when you’re trying to not die. But if that’s the case, then why don’t we do the same when we’re looking to live the best life we can have?
It’s because the quality of our lives is inversely proportional to the degree of certainty and control we need in it!
This is a very profound statement so I want you to really take a second and think about it, ok? Let me explain.
I spoke of the self concept in another post but will go over it again here. People’s self concept is made up of three parts:
- Self ideal: What we aspire to be
- Self image: Who we think we are
- Self esteem: How we feel about our self-image, so basically how much we actually like ourselves, believe in ourselves and feel we are worthy
Now when our self-esteem is aligned with our self-image, we’re pretty much in our comfort zone, and that’s ok. So in my case, my self-image was that of someone who was not creative enough to be a writer, and I accepted that as fact, so I went off and majored in something very technical.
Now my self-ideal of course was to become a writer, but I had already completed 10 years of university, and did not really believe that I was capable of pursuing my ambitions at all. So I just went ahead and did my technical ‘thang’.
Then a friend came along one day and she was totally convinced that I was creative. With a few words of encouragement, (it took more than a few words and more than a day!) my self image changed forever and was no longer aligned with my self esteem. Now I thought I could be creative, and what was I doing in science anyway?
Alas, that threw me completely out of my comfort zone and caused a lot of FEAR in my life. There I was chugging along as a scientist, believing that this was all I was capable of in life, when all of a sudden, I had a little view of other possibilities! The possibility that I could actually surpass my expectation of myself and achieve my ambition in life.
Being someone who does take risks, I decided that exploring the hidden potential inside of me was something worth doing. And as a result of letting go of the certainty I had in my life (e.g. being a leader in my field, having a stable job, etc..), I jumped into writing. And two amazing things happened:
- The quality of my life went up by about 1000 times.
- I am on my way to becoming the person I’ve always wanted to be but never believed was possible.
So what’s the moral of the story here? The moral is this:
Most people live within boundaries that they set for themselves. We don’t push ourselves to take risks or to step out of our comfort zone. So by choosing what we consider a safe problem and by giving ourselves explanations that are acceptable by society and within the rules that have been imposed on us we actually never address the real issue that prevents us from crossing the barrier of fear and realizing that that barrier was totally imaginary.
Many of us die without ever singing the song we were meant to sing, our dreams never see the light of day, and that small piece of ‘magic’ that we were meant to contribute to the universal puzzle dies with us.
We all have hidden potential, but having the courage to explore what we are capable of (and what we are not capable of) directly impacts the quality of the life we are living.
So you know those risks that make you step out of your comfort zone? Take them.
Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.