What is it about beginning something new that freaks us out so much?
The fear of failure paralyses us before we start.
I am all for embracing the unknown. There’s a kind of excitement in the unknown don’t you think?
And maybe our definition of success needs to be evaluated. As opposed to thinking about something as a success or a failure, how about we think about the process of learning?
Terry Ellis and Chip Romer, in their book ‘ Inadequacy as a Doorway to Learning’ say…
” by focusing on what we know already – by becoming experts – we learn not to learn. As experts, we live only in the well known. We do not explore the frontiers of our comfort zone, where learning – exploring something new and unfamiliar – necessarily occurs; instead we remain in our defended expertise. Rather than learning, we end up static, repeating that which we already know.
Turning away from [unknowing) has become an entrenched neural pathway – biologically for individuals in our culture, and metaphorically for our culture itself. We default to our comfortable expertise without even thinking about it. Our aversion to the shame of inadequacy is so habitual that it creates a kind of trance state. This trance obscures the need to grow and learn. The trance blocks natural – childlike – excitement for the discovery of the unknown. It is as if the young child has decided he is content to be an expert crawler and denies any interest in learning to walk.
We habitually settle for the static safety of familiarity instead of expanding through our inadequacy towards the unknowns where expansive learning lives”
I often encourage my yoga students to put on their beginners hat when approaching not only those poses that may be unfamiliar, but those that we do regularly. To be inquisitive, to find freshness in the familiar.
As the Zen master Suzuki Roshi says “ in the beginners mind there are many possibilities, but in the experts mind there are few”
I say let’s throw out the mental life rafts we cling to and let’s embrace our inadequacies, our limitations, our fears…what have we got to lose?
…Maybe the chance for expansiveness, and finding joy in the unknown.