Playing it safe is boring.
But somehow we have a strong magnetic pull to always stay safe. Now, I’m not talking about common sense or being thoughtful while making huge, life-decisions. What I am saying is that it’s human tendency to get stuck in a rut because we like predictability. We like to know where we’re going everyday, how we’re getting there and who we’re going to interact.
The Illusion of Security
Because when we feel like we have a handle on life or a sense of control, we feel safe. We feel like we’re at the helm of the voyage of our experiences and therefore we can avoid places of risk and vulnerability and increase the amount of pleasure and protection that we get to experience. Funny thing is that if you’ve lived long enough, it soon becomes exceedingly clear that not even in the slightest sense are we in control.
Helen Keller said, “security is mostly a superstition. It doesn't not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”
This is a tough pill to swallow and I can almost guarantee that on some level your mortal mind is discounting this as actual truth. We are so tightly attached to our sense of control that to consider it to be an illusion seems like an outrageous lie. Yet, you meet people in life who have risked it all, those who have taken Jack Frost’s less traveled road and you’ll soon see a trend - each person had a moment of clarity that they were not in control.
Get Out Your Raft
Of course we have free will. At any moment I can choose to use my life to extend love to others or withhold myself in fear. I have the privilege of making a decision.
That is my choice.
But choice is not control.
I may choose to extend love to someone and get an offensive, backlashed remark. That I cannot control. I can choose to continue to respond the way of love but I in no way can control that situation.
That’s why in recent years I’ve moved away from the imagery of life being represented as me driving a car (in full control) to being a rider in a raft that’s traveling down an unpredictable river. At times it’s smooth and calm and other times it’s raging with rapids, twists and drops that I can’t predict.
In my river image, I’m a participant. I still have choice, free will and the ability to either work with or against the current, but I am in no way in control. I can’t tell the river to take me somewhere. I can’t control the pace, the severity or the weather conditions… but I can participate. If I accept where the river is taking me and trust it, then I have peace no matter how aggressive or calm the waters may be.
This causes a sense of courage, bravery and adventure, which is what we all really want and who we really are.
Color Outside The Lines
If you’re bored in life, you may be playing it a little too safe. You may be clinging to a sense of control in the routine. While one part of our humanity wants that sense of safety, another part craves to color outside the lines. To take dip our toe in new waters, to allow our curiosity to lead us to place of play, discovery and risk.
It’s not complicated. Sometimes we think we need to be “pro” at something before trying it. It’s as if you’re not the best at something you shouldn’t try it. For example, you may have always wanted to try painting but that voice in your head says, “why would you do that?.. you’ve never painted a day in your life!.. you’re not the artists type…”
You know this voice well. Although may not be accustomed to identifying it, it’s always there attempting to convince you to stay safe, to not take one step out of alignment of social pressure and norms, but today I dare you. I dare you to take your crayon in life and cross that forbidden line. That absurd line that was developed by group-think by no one person but by the collective consciousness of human fear.
If you can’t get yourself to something seemingly insane (like making a cake, if you don’t everybake), then I dare you to brush your teeth a different way, move a piece of furniture in your house to a new place, drive to work a different route, don’t eat the same thing for lunch or talk to the same people at work.
This is what you really want. When you take these little risks, you’ll notice something interesting. Although you feel a little awkward, a little “crazy” and intimidated, when you take that first, teeny, tiny step you’ll feel an incredible rush of liberation, satisfaction and empowerment.
Don’t believe me?
I dare you…