Taking Risks to Improve Life
So here we are, facing a brand new year ahead of us. In some ways this can seem overwhelming but in other ways it can be the perfect excuse to start over. "Start over?" I hear your incredulous reply. "How can I do that when I am knee deep in dealing with problems from my past?" your voice grows louder with resistance. It is true that you can't wipe your slate totally clean. But I am here to say that despite your problems and past baggage, it is possible to start over.
In some ways life circumstances which bring us to our knees can be a way to start over. When we are freed from choice then we have no response but to begin again. I have been in such situations where the only thing I had left was the clothes on my back. It is almost liberating as you don't have to agonize over decision making or consequences as they have all been removed. It is when we do have choices that we agonize, "Is this the right choice?" and "Will I regret this?" or even "Will someone please tell me what to do?" So we seek out the wise people of the village and ask what they would do. We read, we analyze, and we even draw charts. Despite all this rationalization and logic we still torture ourselves over making a change. Why? I think it is because we want control. We want a sure thing. We don't want to mess up our already messed up life. So every decision whether it be small or large takes on an enormous magnitude.
What if, as opposed to those multiple choice tests we took in school, there wasn't any one right answer? I know this defies everything you have been taught but what if it is true? What if it is all about what we do with our choices that matters most?
I can tell you that I have never been a risk taker. It is not my style. I like to play it safe. I like comfort and security. I also don't want bad things to happen due to my choices. Things happening out of my control...well I am used to that. I am a good survivor. But me taking control and taking a risk and possible bad things happening from my own hand...I have a hard time with this scenario. Many of us have learned to be helpless this way. It comes from fear and I understand it. But also understand that if you never take any risks you will forever be sitting on the sidelines of life watching it pass by. You will never actually live it. And as more life passes you will regret it. Just think of it this way, doing nothing is also a choice with consequences.
So I have learned to take risks in my life and I can say that they are worth it. You always have choices, you just might not realize it. You might put up an instant wall of, "I could never do that!" One of the best life changing decisions I made was to stay home with my boys years ago. I was at a good paying job. And when I wrote all the facts and figures of me staying home, the numbers did not add up. On paper we could not afford this. We were taking a huge risk and with the responsibility of babies to consider. But I made the decision and made it work. We were poor in our pocketbooks but rich in spirit. Those were some of the best years of my life. Sure there were consequences. But I can tell you to this day that it was the best decision I ever made.
There was also the time when our family moved from our home town. We had never travelled that much let alone pick up our whole family to move to another state. I gathered information about three different cities. For two of these cities I had tons of information. We had visited these places before and had friends living there. We also had job prospects in these locations. My research for our third city choice was sparse. We had never been to this place and we didn't have any job leads or friends living there. One day I looked at the three piles of brochures and other literature stacked on the floor representing each choice. I looked at the disparity between the two mountains of information for our first two choices and the little bitty stack for our third choice. But something inside of me defied logic and reason. My heart was pulling me towards moving my family to the city we had never seen. It seemed like an insane choice. Logically it didn't make any sense. We didn't know anyone there and no job leads. Yet everything fell into place once we committed to our choice. My husband found a good job, we found a great place to live and then we never looked back. The other possible choices faded into the distance. Would those other cities have been good places for us to live? Maybe. But we made the choice we did and then made it work.
I think the main bit of wisdom I wish to impart here is that you really never know how your choices will work out. Taking a risk means just that. There is only so much research you can do before it is time to leap. Sometimes the best decisions we make are made with less logic and more intuition. When we stop thinking about what we should do or are expected to do, we have more freedom to move forward and make a choice.
And you don't have to "start over" by making some huge change like quitting your job or moving to another state. Small but steady changes can also be a way of starting over as in a change of attitude or a commitment to improving your mental health. Sometimes our choice involves being still and waiting, content with enjoying our life as it is right now. There are many ways to begin again. But rest assured, each day is a new beginning. You don't like today, there is always tomorrow. What choices will you make? What will you risk for happiness? Our choices, sometimes invisible to us in our depression, are always there.