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Do one thing every day that scares you

Thursday, April 18, 2013

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” Eleanor Roosevelt


This is a quote that surprised me the first time I read it. I had never in my life considered doing that. Why would I want to do something that scares me every day? What was the benefit to doing that?

Let me say here that I am a cautious person. And I had always considered my caution, or fear, as something valuable, something intelligent. I thought it saved me from unnecessary risks and danger; it kept me safe. I am someone who mostly plays by the rules. I would never knowingly do anything that is illegal. Also, I would never voluntarily put myself in situations that threatened my physical well being.

It seemed to me that if something scared me, it was probably a good idea to NOT do it!

After I saw this quote, though, I started to think about what kinds of things scared me.
I started to observe myself – to notice when I was feeling scared.

And I was surprised by what I learned.

I noticed that I was sometimes afraid to extend an invitation, or to reach out to someone, for fear that I would be rejected. I found that I would not attempt something new for fear that I would fail. I would not express an opinion or take a stand, for fear that I would be criticized or ridiculed.

Failure, rejection, ridicule, criticism: nobody likes them.

However, after thinking about it some more, I realized that I was being overly cautious. I was protecting myself more than necessary in some of those areas. And as a result, I was losing out on some important opportunities.

Eleanor Roosevelt is advising us to face our fears. We will grow and learn from those experiences -- even if we fail.

I have begun to ignore my fears at times -- take the risk of being rejected -- and most of the time I have been pleasantly surprised by the results.
I better understand now that some risk-taking is important in life.

(Today, I think we refer to it as getting out of our 'comfort zone.')

Here are some more quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt on this topic:

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along."

"You must do the things you think you cannot do."

"I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do, provided he keeps doing them until he gets a record of successful experience behind him."

"People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built."

"In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility."

"With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts."

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

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