Do you want to see that new film? Do you want to work on a project with me? Would you like to go bungee jumping? How did you answer? And how do you decide how to answer? These questions are just examples. What I am curious about, is your reaction. The immediate feeling response that arises inside when you hear a question. Before you actually decide and answer. Are you eager to try something new? To be involved in an activity with a friend or a co-worker? Get out to a social event? Or do invitations like these give rise to caution and anxiety inside you?
Without making broad generalizations, for some people it is easier to follow their curiosity, go out and explore, and step into an unknown territory. They are happy to expose themselves to new experiences. Others are more anxious, the unfamiliar means danger to them. They are wary, cautious and often opt for staying within their comfort zone. So, what is your default response?
For my friend Jess it is definitely a ‘No’. She turns down a lot of things because of that. But sometimes she would tell me later: ‘You know, I keep thinking about that trip. I should have gone. They had such a good time.’ Or ‘I should have said something.’ Etc. So, if you are more like Jess, here’s the good news: You don’t have to stick to your default. You don’t have to decide on the spot. Give yourself some time to pause, don’t just react. This will switch your autopilot off. Observe your immediate reaction - notice what you feel, what is your body telling you. Then, bring in some curiosity: Where does my reaction come from? Is it from fear? What am I afraid of? What is the worst thing that can happen? What would it mean if it really happened? There is nothing wrong with saying ‘No’, with honoring your need for safety and protection at the moment. But make sure it is you who decides. Don’t let your fear make decisions for you. If your immediate default reaction to new things tends to be ‘No’, it does not have to stay that way.