I never used to eat much chilli.
I think the thought of the spice deterred me. I didn’t like the idea of the pain it’d cause me. Food is meant to be an enjoyable experience, not an uncomfortable one. Something changed a few years ago when I started putting chilli on my eggs. I think it clicked for me why people like chilli. While it is a slightly unpleasant experience, the rush of endorphins makes it worth it. Tenfold. What I perceived as a negative experience was actually the opposite.
My brain had tricked me, and I believed it.
I was perceiving something that was actually good for me as something that was negative. I see positive risk as things that fall outside our comfort zone, but have a reward that makes it worth it. Examples of this are performing, asking for a pay rise, dating, trying something new, travelling, public speaking... When we want to do things outside our comfort zone we naturally create barriers for ourselves.
“You couldn’t do that!”
“You’ll look stupid.”
“They wouldn’t want you.”
Sometimes these defences are necessary and prevent us from doing something stupid but sometimes it’s our prehistoric lizard brain responding to an imaginary risk (that doesn’t exist). When we push through that barrier we grow & expand our boundary. Every time we do this our comfort zone stretches and we become more confident (in that aspect of our life).
Chilli is a potent symbol for me. Whenever I eat it (not just on eggs!) I am reminded to challenge myself and bring about positive change. I own a pair of socks that are covered in chilli. Sometimes I wear these purposely if I am doing something brave, as a reminder that it isn’t scary but exciting (and that my heart palpitations will subside if I breathe through the experience!) I also remind myself that whatever happens, I will be ok. I won’t die and if it is a negative experience I can debrief with friends and family and further develop that bond. It might have been negative, but this will be over-ridden by the sense of joy from challenging myself to grow.
When you eat particularly strong chilli your senses are overwhelmed, your sinuses are cleared and afterwards you feel incredibly alert. Days later you joke about that time you ate a whole chilli thinking it was a piece of sun dried tomato. And you bond with others - everyone has a chilli story.
Having these moments to challenge us helps make life interesting. Achievement helps expand our capabilities and makes everything else better. It’s a sliding scale. No one starts eating a papaya salad (a particularly spicy South East Asian dish). We take small steps to build our confidence and then our tolerance grows.
What’s a positive risk that you’re putting off but could lead to a large benefit? What’s one small thing you can do now to move towards that goal?
"microphone" image sourced from: https://unsplash.com/@mrthetrain