main

ExperimentationExplorationRisk

You need a hug

March 8, 2016 — by Matt

1600x900_bear_hug-901603.jpg?fit=768%2C432

I’m not going to lie. I’ve had some times in the last few weeks when I just needed a hug.

First there was a DJ performance at a networking night that just went abysmally. Then there was the crippling feeling of being overwhelmed when working late, promoting and organizing two events and the flights for three trips, and failing to work on any of my own projects all culminated in a single week of deadlines, lost sleep, and stress headaches. And there are just life issues that crop up here and there that make you feel like you can’t win.

I know these things are surmountable. I know life doesn’t intentionally try to screw with you; it just provides winds that you can either let knock you over or harness to steer you toward something better. And I’m confident that I can handle these winds, and so can you.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t times I feel I just need a hug. And I believe that’s a GOOD thing – even as a fully functioning adult.

kids hugging

When we were kids, we needed hugs all the time – skinned knees, bad dreams, and scary, unknown experiences tested our resolve almost daily. If we needed a hug it usually meant we had run into a situation with which we were unfamiliar, or tried something that ended up being scary. Sometimes it meant we failed. But while the hug made us feel better in the short term, it was really just a symptom of something larger. We were learning, experimenting, taking risks and facing fears in order to learn about the world around us (and ourselves).

As we grow up, we learn how the world around us works. We learn lessons, we build assumptions, and we build an identity. None of these are bad things – we need them to become a real person, functioning member of society.

But I think some other things happen also. We find a comfort zone, and then we carve out a groove there. We become less vulnerable, less willing to put ourselves in a position to get hurt. We’ve had so much pain in life that as adults, we’ve learned ways to avoid it. We do what feels comfortable, we shield our passions, and we take fewer risks. In fact, there are studies that suggest that risk-taking decreases with age.

If you make yourself someone who never needs a hug, never needs a shoulder to lean on, then you’re self-sufficient, resilient, and strong. Right?

Yeah, maybe you’re those things. But guess what you aren’t? You aren’t excited about anything. You don’t have anything that really revs your engine. You’re OK with mediocrity because breaking out of it would require too much effort, too much risk.

I’ve seen these grown-ups. Hell, I’ve BEEN that grown-up sometimes. The type that know everything, the type that don’t need to try new things because they’ve apparently experienced enough of life to know what they like and don’t like. The type that are cynical or apathetic about everything. I’m not talking about selective apathy here, which is a great tool to keep your focus. I’m talking about general apathy. If you don’t care about anything too much then it can’t hurt you too much.

DON’T suppress that part of you. DO go after things that scare you. Test your limits. Learn to fail. Put yourself in a position to need a hug once in a while. Because the people that have not hardened themselves to eliminate all vulnerability are also the ones willing to take the necessary risks to achieve their dreams.

Weekend Reads

Fear is real, but conquerable! (Weekend Reads)

February 19, 2016 — by Matt

I think a lot about fear. What if I wasn’t afraid to quit my job or of not having enough money to survive? Does fear affect my ability to finish projects, or take risks? How can I overcome the fear of x, y, or z?

I guess I’m not alone. I’ve stumbled upon a few articles recently that tackle the topic of fear. If you’re dreading the future or you feel like fear is holding you back from being great, use these as reminders that we all face fears, and they’re all surmountable.

I AM AFRAID ALL OF THE TIME

The beginning of this article is almost comforting. Entrepreneur and writer James Altucher lists out a few of his top fears that probably sound strangely familiar to your own. It might be a tactic to disarm the reader and inspire empathy, but dammit it works. I felt better about my own fears after reading it.

The rest of the article launches into techniques James uses to overcome fear. His “themes over goals” sounds a lot like my identity based personal pillars, so you know I’m in. And although a lot of the others seem fairly obvious, they’re still good reminders that we have strategies to squelch our fear and really achieve.

THE THIN LINE BETWEEN STAYING UNCOMFORTABLE AND CREATING FEAR

This 99u article by Stephanie Kaptein identifies the potential problem with the timeless advice of “stepping outside your comfort zone” to gain inspiration – that going too far out of the zone can backfire, making us too afraid to go on. Knowing where the line between motivating discomfort and paralyzing fear lies is important if we want to avoid self-sabotage.

I really like this article. It recognizes that fear is a real thing that can hamstring our resolve and our creative process, rather than ignoring it and believing ourselves to be impervious to its effects. Strategically evaluating where we are in relation to that line is an important self-check that will keep us moving forward.

—-

Have a great weekend, and keep conquering your fears!

Skip to toolbar