The Power of Emotional Risk Taking

Emotional risks can take many different forms in our lives but essentially the common factor in taking emotional risks is the emotional vulnerability that we experience when we take them. When we decide to take an emotional risk we willingly put our true feelings out there for everyone to see, even though we know we have no control over what will happen or how other people will respond.

So often in life we try to hide and conceal the emotions we truly feel, because we are afraid of being judged, criticised, hurt or rejected. Emotional risks require us to consciously step outside our emotional comfort zone and challenge many of our comfortable habits and beliefs. Doing this can often cause us to feel intensely vulnerable and fearful and it can even trigger our fight or flight response. This negative emotional response takes over our decision-making process and stops us from taking emotional risks in our life. The pattern that we are run by is: emotional risks = pain, avoid at all costs.

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This pattern is simply a fear response that we have created to protect the deeper underlying issue which we don’t want to face. This pattern demonstrates why it is so important on an emotional level to take emotional risks, by taking an emotional risk we are taking ownership of how we feel on deeper level and in doing so we initiate our healing process.

On a professional level taking emotional risks can be negatively received by colleagues who can see it as a threat to their comfortable habits and beliefs about who you are and the roles you play. You might decide to take an emotional risk and tell your boss that you want to talk about getting a promotion. The risk is that you feel you are worthy of a promotion, but your boss may see it differently. The emotional risk is that you may feel a strong sense of disappointment, rejection and even powerlessness, if your boss says no. Before you ask for the promotion you would probably weigh up the risk vs reward, you would ask yourself “Can I cope with disappointment of him saying no” and “is the risk worth the reward?”

Another common example of taking an emotional risk is being the first person to say “I love you” in a relationship. It is a true act of emotional courage to risk not having these feelings reciprocated back to you from the person you are in a relationship with. Again, you can have feelings of hurt that you are still carrying from past experiences, which make you feel fearful and apprehensive. This fear can stop you from expressing and receiving love, which is one of the most important human experiences. This can also work in reverse, in situations where people no longer love each other, but are afraid to communicate their feelings to the other person for fear of hurting them. The emotional risk in this situation is to honestly admit that they no longer love this person and set them free, so they can move on with their life.

When it comes to taking emotional risks, giving and receiving love can be a big risk factor, but the greatest emotional risk by far is to love yourself. In my experience with working with an array of different people in my workshops, I have observed that loving and appreciating yourself for all that you are is a huge risk that takes an enormous degree of emotional courage. The absence of self-love is also the greatest barrier to receiving love from others. Demonstrating true unconditional love for yourself is a prerequisite to demonstrating unconditional love for other people. Dropping your emotional defence mechanisms and letting people get underneath the masks that you wear is the important first step to healing the past. We have to be willing to risk the vulnerability of being emotionally honest and let people in to see this vulnerable, raw part of ourselves. 

Why take emotional risks?

Taking emotional risks fast tracks your healing on a deep emotional level because you are demonstrating emotional honesty and the courage to own how you truly feel. When you engage in emotional risk taking you give yourself permission to transcend the limiting emotions, beliefs and patterns that have kept you from the things you most desire. When you take emotional risks, you open a doorway to healing, love and a deeper spiritual connection to life itself.

The benefits of taking emotional risks in your life

  • Taking emotional risks in your relationships is the foundation for experiencing greater levels of love, intimacy, empathy and connection.
  • Taking emotional risks helps you overcome communication barriers and heal the past
  • Taking emotional risks gives you a greater emotional connection, trust and sense of feeling valued in relationships
  • Taking emotional risks dramatically increases the level of satisfaction, fulfilment and emotional reward that you experience in life
  • Taking emotional risks leads to greater degrees of love, joy and authenticity

 

Exercise: Practicing Emotional Risk Taking in your life

Write down the different areas of your life where you know you could be taking more emotional risks. Look at specific situations where you are lacking the emotional courage to shift or change the energy of the interaction or circumstances of your life.

Remember to make sure the emotional risk aligns with your values as a human being. This means that the reward for taking the risk will bring you greater degree of fulfillment and be highly emotionally rewarding.

Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you define where in your life you can be taking more emotional risks:

Where do I feel I am I blocked or afraid to set emotional boundaries in my life?

Where am I putting up with behaviour from other people that I normally wouldn’t except?

What emotional risks could I take that would bring me a greater degree of emotional fulfilment in one or more areas of my life?

Are there situations in my life where I am pretending and not being honest about how I truly feel with other people? What beliefs or emotions are blocking me?

Where am I avoiding, in denial and not facing important issues in my life due to emotional pain?

Where do I avoid certain situations because of past experiences of emotional pain?

Where do I have limiting beliefs that are blocking me from honouring and following my inner truth?

Where am I compromising my self-respect, dignity and integrity to try to please other people?

Where do other people’s opinions mean more to me then my own opinion and truth about how I feel?

Where am I engaging in behaviour that is inconsistent with my values and what’s truly important to me?

Where am I not speaking up because I am afraid of judgement or criticism from others?

Where am I afraid of owning my power and admitting that I have something special to contribute?

Where am I blaming people or circumstances for my problems and emotional pain?

Where am I not taking responsibility for my role in the dramas of my life?

Where am I not taking responsibility for the way I respond to problems and challenges that I face in my life?

What part of myself am I not honouring and giving myself permission to express?

Where am I overly afraid of what other people will think of me?

Preparing and planning your emotional risk taking

Once you have identified the places in your life where you feel you need to take more emotional risks then take some time to think through and plan the details of how you are going to take the emotional risk.

Here are some things to consider when you are planning your emotional risks:

What is my ultimate intention and outcome for taking this risk?

How will my life and the lives of the people involved benefit from me demonstrating the courage to take this emotional risk?

What emotions am I experiencing that might block and inhibit my ability to be authentic and calm when I engage in taking this risk? How can I address them before hand?

What emotions and beliefs might prevent and block other people from being receptive and truly listening to me when I take this emotional risk? How can I prepare for and acknowledge the emotions and concerns of others involved?

What personal values am I communicating by taking this emotional risk? How do I best communicate them?

What are the values of those who will be directly affected by the emotional risk? How can I consider and communicate my values in a way that meets their values?

Evaluating the Success of Your Emotional Risk Taking

Once you have taken the emotional risk you make sure you congratulate yourself as you have demonstrated true emotional courage!

After you take your courageous action it is important to reflect on what worked and what didn’t work because there are always unforeseen circumstances and things that come up for us when we take emotional risks. By reflecting on what worked and what didn’t we can refine our risk-taking skills and overcome any unexpected challenges, improving our risk taking in the future. This will also give us an opportunity to reflect on what worked really well so we can use it in the future again.

Questions to reflect on after taking your emotional risk:

What worked?

What didn’t work?

What did I do really well?

What was the key things that made it work well?

What did I not do so well?

What was the reason for it not working so well and how can I improve for the future?

Did I accomplish the outcome that I intended?

Emotional risk taking is a skill that has to be practiced regularly for it to fully develop in your life. But when it is developed it has the power to radically transform your life and your relationship with others. The reward for taking emotional risks is following your hearts agenda which is the gateway to healing, emotional freedom, authenticity, joy and love.

Want to learn more about how emotional risk taking can change your life? Join Ben at a workshop or book a coaching session now!

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