why does trying something new seem so scary?
it all comes down to our perception of two words: “the unknown.”
most people don’t like those words – we like to know.
not knowing leads us to question our reality; our comforts:
will I like this new thing?
will I learn I was wrong about something?
what is wrong with the things I already like?
what if I fail trying this new thing?
these are tantalizing rabbit holes to follow for a person taught to fear the unknown. each leading to a choose-your-own adventure of crippling self-loathing that will ultimately end in the achievement of nothing; breathing heavily into a metaphorical paper bag, in the midst of existential crisis.
but let us take a step back – climb out of those rabbit holes and unpack a little.
contrary to how I have just pitched the concept of “trying new things…” and where it can lead…
let us take the high road – let’s get comfortable with the unknown.
(we’re called luvdaily, after all…)
this post will walk you through the five pillars of trying something new, help you grow empathy for the unknown, and maybe even empower you to try something new.
we’ll use food as our example.
no change for me, thanks.
do you have a favorite restaurant? when you go there what do you typically order?
if you are anything like me…your order probably never changes.
(and why should it? the fajitas are incredible! YOU TRY SOMETHING NEW! *ravenously gorges on fajitas in corner with sympathy margarita*)
in this scenario the lack of trying something new seems acceptable, right?
we know what we like – there is simply no desire to change. when we scan the menu, it is only for the purpose of confirming our favorite dish still exists.
(and it always does…put the bag back – phew.)
the first pillar of trying – we have to want to try (start small)
now, say you are meeting friends at a new restaurant.
you have already opened yourself to a new experience by going somewhere new.
this was a choice.
(pat yourself on the back you non-fajita-eating adventurer!)
making small changes like this is a great way to open yourself up to the possibility of greater change.
pillar number two – identifying our habits
when you walked into the restaurant your preexisting desires were probably limited to fulfilling a base need – hunger.
now, do a little exercise:
as you glance over the menu, what is it you are looking for? do you look for something similar to your favorite dish? or, do you remain open to all these new options, in hopes you may find a new favorite?
you have so many different options! what will satisfy your base desire?
ah, but what’s this? a version of your favorite staple on new restaurant’s menu?
*we are creatures of comfort – somewhere in your brain, you will log this menu offering as a “in-case-there-is-nothing-else-that-sounds-better-I-will-default-to-this” option.
this is perfectly normal – and really, if you tried the comfort food here…it would still be something new.
but you’re bolder than that – pillar three will equip you with even more power to change.*
the third pillar of trying – make the argument for change
your eye keeps floating back to the old favorite – tempting you with what you know. it calls to you.
(*whisper voice* “fajitaaaaaaaaaaaaaasssss” *pan sizzling sounds*)
you have come this far…to a new restaurant – subverting desire and old habits. but with this new information, what is your next step?
(adjust for context.)
would you order fajitas at an Irish pub?
i would certainly hope not.
the fourth pillar in trying new things – follow through
when the server approaches, you begin to stress:
“why did Karen make us go to this Irish pub, anyway?! how can Irish fajitas be good? do they even have skillets in Ireland?!?!”
(deep breaths. deep breaths.)
don’t let “comfort creep” dilute the progress you have already made.
take a step back.
“I am hungry. this is my base desire. I did not come here only to seek fajitas. I am in a new place that likely does not understand the intricacies of fajitas…and should I default to them, they may only remind me of what I could have had if I never came to this restaurant in the first place.”
“I’ll have the haggis nachos, please.”
pillar number five – accept your choice and move on
as you pick through the last bits of your dinner, you may find that you didn’t like what you ordered…
and that is okay.
the fact is, you aren’t always going to like the new things you try – but instead of wallowing in feelings of “fajita-fomo”; choose to accept the nourishment your meal provided and realize that you are still here – with the opportunity of future fajita-filled days ahead.
realize that it is just as important to discover things that we don’t like.
make some change
understanding the foundational elements of change helps us grow into our best selves. it reminds us that the world is full of choices and that it is not so scary if we acknowledge the little changes happening all around us – all the time.
looking for a small (but amazing) change to make?
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