9 Risks A Man Needs To Start Taking
Life is full of risks. Some are easy to avoid, like not swimming in a seal colony in South Africa*, others we avoid without even realizing it. When in reality, we don’t even need or want to.
Self-improvement hinges on our ability to engage with risk. The more we take on the risks we need to, the more we grow in the directions we need to grow. Sometimes this will mean taking big, life-changing risks. But it will most commonly mean paying attention to the small, everyday risks you don’t even know you’re avoiding.
Risking confrontation. Risking comfort. Risking your fantasy of yourself. Whether you’re looking to become more disciplined, achieve your dreams, or just improve your dating life – there are risks you need to be aware of and that you need to start taking today.
Let’s start with the big ones:
I’ll start with a big one. Risk your safety and learn to fight. No, I don’t mean self-defense class. I mean sparring with a boxer who’s going to smash you in the face.
Humans are conflict-prone creatures, but unlike women, men always have the threat of “or else”. Sure, this is rarely ever openly expressed, but it’s always there, hanging around in the non-verbals. Whether we intend it or not.
Learning how to fight gives you a sense of self-confidence that permeates your being and prevents you from getting swayed by this ever present “or else.” This doesn’t mean you have to fight anyone as a result of it, in fact, you almost never will.
It just means you have to know how.
Creating something that gets judged by others is hard work. Sure, the creation part is difficult, but the part where you actually have to show it to people and they can, at a moments notice, crap all over it… Yeah, that sucks.
But if you want to create something worthwhile, you have to risk failure and allow it to be judged by others.
If you always keep it in your head and never do the work, it’ll never happen. But if you do it and never show it to others, it’ll never be any good.
Risk failure. See what you can create. It’s the easiest way to stop wondering “what if?”
If you never risk rejection you will never have a great dating life. The two go hand in hand. With that in mind, rejection is one of the best risks you can start consistently taking.
See a woman you want to approach? Do it. Want to ask out that barista? Do it. Want to go in for the kiss on a date despite being nervous? Do it.
Expressing any kind of sexual intent always contains an element of anxiousness, awkwardness, and above all rejection. You’re always going to have to risk it – so you may as well embrace the suck and start today.
Where you live determines a lot of your comfort zone. You know where all the conveniences are, you have an established friendship group, hell, your parents may even live nearby.
We do this because, as people, we like comfort and predictability. We don’t like unforeseen problems, and we don’t like having to do things like building entire friendship groups from scratch.
If you’ve lived in one place for a long amount of time you develop routines and patterns of behavior that insulate your identity. In many cases, this can be a good thing – but sometimes, it can hinder our growth.
When we’re constantly exposed to the same things, we reinforce who we are at an identity level. We aren’t challenging who it is we think we are, and at the same time, as we’re staying within the bounds of comfort, we aren’t challenging what we think we’re capable of.
Heading out to a new city on our own helps to redefine who we think we are and push the boundaries of our comfort zone, making us all the more capable in the meantime.
Until now, all the risks I’ve listed have involved fairly big actions or changes in your life. And I stand by them. Taking these risks will change your life, and more importantly, your outlook as a man.
But far more common than these risks, and far more important, are the everyday risks that you aren’t taking. These are little things that slowly degrade your self-confidence and eat away at your overall quality of life.
One of the most basic risks guys don’t take is voicing their opinion. They have interests, passions, and viewpoints, sure – but if these conflict with anyone else’s, they don’t speak up.
If they don’t give a crap about MMA, they’ll pretend to if someone else does. If they vote one way, they’ll pretend to vote the other if someone else does. If they disagree with something a woman said to them on a date, she’ll leave the date without ever knowing.
Every differing opinion is a risk. A risk of confrontation, disagreement, or a simple break in rapport. It risks that person liking you, it risks you looking stupid, and it risks your general level of comfort.
But one of the easiest ways to be more charismatic as a man is to have opinions and to voice them. Think about Jordan Peterson and his meteoric rise to fame. Does he really do anything but this?
Know your opinions and state them. Take the risk. Someone people won’t like them. Some people will be annoyed. But many, many others will like them – and you’ll be all the better for it.
When you aren’t comfortable with confrontation, you let that fear dictate your moment by moment interactions. More often than not, these interactions will be fine – people are pretty friendly after all – but every so often someone will treat you like crap.
And because of your fear, you’ll let it happen without even a comment.
People who are afraid of confrontation do whatever they can to uphold the comfort of the interactions they’re in. This inevitably means they’ll sacrifice their own self-respect in order to do so.
Embracing your self-respect requires you, at some point, to risk that comfort and embrace confrontation. It will be awkward, it will be messy, but you will come out of it more confident than you’ve ever been.
Sounds better than being walked all over right?
Being alone sucks. In extreme doses it can be fatal, but as an every day, hour by hour experience, it still sucks.
Being lonely conjures up all kinds of insecurities in our head. People don’t like us. We’re worthless. Our mother never really loved us and that’s why she never came to our 8th birthday.
To avoid these horrible feelings, we attach ourselves to people who will spend time with us… But we do this irrespective of the way they treat us.
This is what is affectionately known as neediness.
We emotionally need attention from people in order to not feel the horrible side effects of loneliness, so we accept any and all attention we get. Regardless of how bad it may be.
One of the best risks we can take in life is to learn to reject the people that treat us badly. To hold our values, boundaries, and standards higher than our neediness, and only interact with people who treat us as we accept being treated.
This is a hallmark of self-confidence. And it all starts with risking loneliness.
How many times have you said something to the effect of:
“I’m too introverted for that.”
“I’m too anxious for that.”
“I’m just not very disciplined so I couldn’t do it.”
How many times have you made a statement about yourself, that, rather than being based in concrete psychological evidence, was instead grounded in limiting assumptions that you’ve made about who you are and your potential?
I get it, negative assumptions about yourself are normal. If you’re lazy every day, it’s pretty easy to assume you’re fundamentally a lazy person. Who wouldn’t assume that?
But in this instance, laziness is just something you’ve continually done. It’s just a repeated action. And if you chose to challenge that assumption, to stop letting yourself off the hook, and instead make small changes to not be lazy – who might what you become? What new assumption about yourself might you build?
That you’re hard working? That you have the ability to change your life?
You only find out when you challenge your assumptions in the first place.
Everyone has a fantasy of themselves that they like to entertain. It’s usually an idea of what our life would be like were we to achieve our dreams. But in this fantasy, we don’t envisage ourselves slaving away to achieve our dreams. No, we see ourselves experiencing the rewards of achieving them.
Y’know, the increase in status, money, adulation, attention from women – all that vain, superficial stuff.
And we get attached to this fantasy. Thinking about it makes us feel good about ourselves. It helps us when we feel down. So what do we do? We protect it.
We never take the action that would attempt to bring that fantasy into reality, because in doing so, we would risk failing, and revealing that we aren’t quite good enough – that we aren’t the guy we think we are.
This is fear of failure 101. But if you want to start having a better life – you need to start risking this fantasy. This comfortable idea of yourself. Because that’s how change happens.
So if you risk anything today, risk that.
*This is an easy way to get eaten by a Great White Shark.
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About John Matich John is a writer from the UK who splits his time between travelling the world and trying to find unconventional solutions to dating and personal development. You can find more from him at www.lifeuncivilized.com.