Challenges are scary, but without them we’d never grow. In childhood, we faced challenges all the time because everything was new, we had a lot to learn, and those who looked after us or taught us were there to push us to keep learning.
In adulthood, however, too many people allow their growth to slow right down or completely stop as a result of not being challenged enough. The challenges of the new get traded in for the routines of the familiar, and this is pretty much the general norm for most “busy” adults these days.
One of the biggest regrets people have at the end of their lives is that they weren’t brave enough to do what they really wanted to do, instead settling for what was safe and what satisfied others’ expectations. Don’t be that type of person.
Yes, diving into the unknown of a big challenge is scary, but you can train your mind in a way that encourages you to take action while helping you become more resilient along the way. Here’s how.
Seek to Better Understand Vulnerability
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” — Brené Brown
We avoid challenges because they make us feel vulnerable. The mind (or the ego), of course, automatically interprets vulnerability as something dangerous that it needs to protect us from.
When we dig deeper into understanding what vulnerability really is, which can only be done by raising our level of awareness, we see it for what it really is — uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. This may not make vulnerability any more pleasant, but it at least opens us up to recognizing that whether we choose to retreat and protect ourselves or take action and show our willingness to move forward, vulnerability is still there no matter what you choose to do.
Imagine a Future Where Nothing Changes
“The death rate for people who play it safe and for those who live boldly is the same.” — Patti Digh
Let’s say you have a dream of becoming a yoga teacher. If you kept putting off the challenge of working toward that, where would that leave you in 10 years? Possibly unfulfilled, working at a completely unrelated job.
If we can imagine the long-term consequences of not taking action toward a challenge as if it were happening right now, we might just be more motivated to go for it. Those 10, 20, or 30 years or longer are going to pass anyway, and the choices we’re making right now will influence where we’ll be at that time.
Turn Certainty Into Curiosity
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” — Albert Einstein
The trouble with facing challenging situations is that we let our desire for certainty get in the way. We want to know that it will work out, that our plan is effective, that something bad won’t throw us off, that we won’t be laughed at, and so on and so forth.
Start taking notice of how your mind tries to cling to desires for certainty, and remind it that absolutely nothing in life is certain so you can open yourself up to learning instead. If you can turn “I need to know that this will work out” into “I’m curious about this and want to learn about it,” then you’ll put yourself in a position where your personal growth will have completely unlimited potential.
Use these tips to challenge yourself in your yoga practice, in your career, in your personal life, and wherever else you feel you really need to be challenged. Never stop learning, never stop growing.