Risk involves anxiety, and anxiety may come up with many choices that we make in life. But when you let your anxiety and fears dictate those choices you become a slave, with choice only being a figment of your imagination. This is serious. You only have one life to live, and you need to make the choices you want! YOU need to chart your life direction, not your fears.
There are many things in life which can provide us not only with security but growth, money, happiness, and potential… but sometimes we choose these things unconsciously, with a nagging doubt in our mind that says “I want something else, I’m just afraid to go get it”.
Let’s take examples of: your job, your romantic relationships, and your friends.
Life Choices And Anxiety
A 9-5 job is usually deemed as “comfortable” or “reliable”. Assuming you are performing well at work, the company is not downsizing, and the economy is REASONABLE, you should be able to get a decent pay cheque for an honest day’s work.
One of the alternatives, starting your own business, is much more fraught with peril, potential bankruptcy, fronting your own money, extremely long hours, no included health benefits, and potentially wasting months on an unprofitable idea… i.e. a lot of anxiety.
The question: Do you choose a 9-5 or day job because you really want it, or unconsciously as a means of mitigating the anxiety involved with starting the business you truly would love to see flourish?
A monogamous boyfriend/girlfriend relationship can provide intimacy, comfort, and someone who will be there for you. If you need support they are there. You also have someone who you can have regular sex with.
The alternative, being single, may involve casual dating. But, you will not receive the same level of emotional support if you are not in a committed relationship (unless it is an open relationship that involves that type of support, but I’m assuming the typical monogamous frame work here). You may not have sex for months. You may not have anyone you can go to for deeper emotional problems.
The question: Are you comfortable getting your emotional needs met alone, or are you in a relationship because you are scared of being single, unsupported, and possibly without sex?
Your friends seem awesome. You go to bars together. You talk on the phone. They try to help you… Yet the conversations never go too deep. They never ask you about your life goals. They don’t like to try new things which you want to do with other people. Maybe they put down some of your more risky ideas or suggestions, like starting your own business, sumo wrestling (Who knows! I’d love to sumo wrestle once, minus gaining all the weight. I’ll take one of those suits, please!), and tell you that you shouldn’t do those ideas, instead of supporting you.
The question: Are you comfortable being without friends until you find ones that match up with what you are looking for, or do you stay with your current group of friends out of fear of not having anyone?
Your Options For Dealing With Your Anxiety
Anxiety sucks, and there are two ways to deal with it:
1. Accept it, and move forward anyways with whatever our gut tells us to do
2. Give in to it, and deny our desires/what we want to do
Option 1 will not alleviate the anxiety in the short term, option 2 does. But option 2 is not being true to yourself and what you really want. Taking security because your anxiety scares you will lead to your anxiety controlling your life, and that is no way to live.
Action cures anxiety, and while both of these options do involve doing something, there is a right and wrong here. Listening to your heart and gut is right, listening to your anxiety is wrong.
Of course we can’t just run off and beat anxiety all the time, and sometimes security is a better route. Or perhaps some planning is necessary, such as accumulating a few months of back up rent before trying to start that business. Or maybe at times we might be a bit lazy and take a more secure route…
But make sure you take time during life to ask yourself: am I doing what I really want, or am I taking a more secure option out of fear? Many things in life involve risk, such as approaching an attractive member of the opposite sex, starting a business, telling someone that what they said hurt you, and so on… We might create many coping strategies to deal with these uncomfortable situations to get around them (defences), but then we’re not living true to our authentic selves.
There is NOTHING wrong with having a 9-5 job, a girlfriend, and the friends that you currently have AS LONG AS YOU CONSCIOUSLY CHOOSE TO DO SO.
YOU SHOULD BE HAPPY WITH YOU CHOICES. Something is not a choice if you are forced to select it out of fear.
For me this is happening with my trip to Europe, and anxiety rears its ugly head:
I’ve never been on a long term trip before, especially by myself. I’ve never lived in hostels. I’m scared I won’t make friends. What if I get sick? What if I don’t pick the right places to go to? What if I miss out on stuff? What if I can’t make money when I come back? What if I over spend my budget? Maybe I should just stay home and not risk it…
I bought my plane ticket, so I’m going Mr. Anxiety :). Sorry! And the way I deal with this is by tackling each worry, wondering about the worst case scenario, and knowing that no matter what I can handle it. I can borrow money from my parents and I do have a bit extra saved up. There’s always more to see and I’ll be back again. European health care, at least where I’m going, is really good…
And in general: I’ve survived far worse and will be much stronger and better off for doing the trip.
And really, “If I don’t pick the right places to go to”? Come on. I just want to explore and have fun on a well deserved vacation! Anywhere will be great! This won’t be my only trip. The more one can laugh at the anxiety, the better.
The moral of the story: Fear and anxiety should not lead to choosing a more secure option, unless it is what you truly desire. Don’t settle.
Make your choices consciously, and from what you truly want.
Image Credit: Alaina Abplanalp Photography