Let’s talk about challenging ourselves today. We constantly hear that we need to challenge ourselves for personal growth. Our workout should be such that it is not too easy, nor just the level throughout. Rather, it must challenge us a bit. This will lead to bigger strength. If we are afraid of something, say of traveling alone, we should start with places we know (so a bit of challenge) and grow from there until we can travel comfortably to father places. Going over our fears challenge us. Driving may be scary, but we should go for it.
Without challenge, we stay where we are.
There is a but.
If we challenge ourselves too much, this might send our body and mind the wrong signal: that we are not safe. Challenge, after all, is the unknown and the unknown is not safe and safety is a basic need for humans.
I always liked challenging myself, a bit more than I should have (if the right amount is +1, I did +3). I always tried to do more than what was comfortable for me. I thought this was a good idea. However, the problem was that I did not provide the safe environment for myself so I can branch from that. I was already feeling a bit unsafe even without the challenges. The reason for this generalized unsafety has to do with the fact that I have not had my family nearby for many years and family is the root of safety. It was not a good idea to try to go ahead when I did not feel the basic safety.
Understanding this gave me a better idea about the general picture. We first need to make sure that we feel safe in this world, whether it be thanks to family, friends, job etc. Then, we need to integrate the challenges bit by bit, not via big jumps. With each integration, the body and the mind will feel safe at that level so they can move on. If we do these and we are patient enough, we will see that, comparing our beginning and end points, we have made enormous progress.
Now, I gave up on challenges for a while and am trying to make myself gain that basic safety. Once I feel that, I will try to do what I just said in the previous paragraph.
Do you challenge yourselves often or do you prefer your comfort zone? How do you balance safety and challenge? Why is challenging yourself important for you? Let’s chat!