Hello everybody, welcome to episode 116 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino. Today I’m bringing you an interesting question that has many parts to it, but to me, ultimately boils down to risk-taking, what prevents us from doing it right, and how to right the ship. It’s a bit on the longer side, so listen carefully and follow along. Here it is…
QUESTION: “All my life, I've been told what and when to do it. At home with chores, at school with homework, and now on the job with basic duties. On the outside, I look as I have it all put together. A great family, a great life. But I still feel homesick, the nostalgia of family life growing up.
I laugh at myself when I say homesick, because growing up at home wasn't usually a happy place as I was raised by an over-bearing mother and a dad who rode the line of being absent for alcohol and drugs.
Fast forward 15 years, my dad is on track to recovery and my mom has plunged herself deep into virtual reality. Maybe what I'm missing here is connection? I feel as if parents should check in on their kids once in awhile, and I feel I put in more effort.
My body craves SOMETHING that I'm missing. And maybe while I was good at following the rules, it provided the praise I desperately needed. But I was afraid to step out of the lines, and now I'm afraid to take risks, leaving me with no agenda. How can I tell myself or give myself permission to put myself out there; take risks?”
Now vs. The Past
Ok. A nice layered question for today. There are obviously several factors at play here, but I think I can see how they all tie into this desire to take some more risks.
I want to start by talking about the relationship with your parents, because based on what you’ve told me, a lot of what you’re feeling seems to be based in that disconnect now and in the past.
So, yes. Ideally all relationships would be 50/50 in the way of communication and outreach. The relationships with parents is no different, at least once we’re grown adults.
Different Degrees of Communication
Now, it’s definitely worth it to remember that we all enjoy different degrees of communication depending not only on who we are, but who we’re communicating with. Sometimes best friends living in separate cities can go months without talking and it’s perfectly fine, nothing’s wrong. I’ve been there with my best friend. It’s just the dynamic.
That aside, maybe your parents aren’t putting in much of an effort. Maybe you’re right in that the main thing you’re missing either now or both now and in the past is a connection with your parents.
Don't Keep Silent
Here’s the thing: If you feel you’re missing a connection with them, it’s on you to do something about it.
Maybe it’s them who caused this disconnect in how they raised you, but if you’re not at peace with that as an adult, it’s on you to be open about those feelings and make an effort to communicate deeply with them about your concerns rather than silently keeping tally of who’s reaching out more.
Do You Feel Shortchanged in Your Relationship?
Perhaps you feel shortchanged in your relationship with them – those feelings would be more than justifiable based on what you’ve described. But that doesn’t absolve you of responsibility. If you’re mostly addressing this unrest in a passive way, like getting agitated about them not reaching out but not saying anything about it, nothing is being solved.
You’re only frustrating yourself more, and the longer this goes on, the more likely any expression of these feelings is to manifests itself as an explosion or argument – which would be counterproductive and likely cause more distance. Be vulnerable and open with them before any more resentment builds.
As far as your desire to take more risks goes, let that be the first one. And it’s not even a risk at all; I’d define it more as something that’s a little outside your comfort zone, but something that’s meaningful nonetheless.
And for my money, that’s what risks should be about anyway. Prepare for a top notch analogy as I compare risk taking… to hot sauce.
How People Approach Risk-Taking
A lot of people – you might find a large conglomerate of them at your local Buffalo Wild Wings – love putting the hottest sauce on their wings (or whatever) not because it tastes good. As a matter of fact, they know it will be unpleasant.
They do it so they can say they did it and say that they toughed out the challenge. They do it for the rush, not because it’s a more pleasurable experience for their tastebuds.
Tragically, many people approach risk-taking in daily life the same way. They say they want to take risks and they do so often just for the sake of saying they shook things up and felt freer.
But like the hot sauce, many of these risks are more about saying they did them rather than because any meaning or pleasure was added.
And like someone who’s struggling on the toilet seat the next day after hot wings, the risks many of us take end up providing more pain than pleasure. I’m talking about pumped stomachs after testing your drinking limits, broken legs after testing your jumping limits, and so on.
This is what you need to keep in mind when deciding when and how to take productive risks in daily life.
Taking Risks for The Right Reasons
Try to lead with this mentality. Make risk-taking not about saying you did, but about genuinely improving your life.
Approach it not with fear of what could go wrong (i.e. not receiving praise), but excitement of what could go right (stepping into your own power). Because it seems to me like you might be averse to taking risks, like you said, because any of the praise you’ve gotten has come from staying in your lane.
Don’t go crazy just to say you felt unchained for once. Step outside of your comfort zones by doing new things that add true value – ideally long-term value. Having a gutsy conversation with your parents about feelings of neglect is directly in line with that.
Taking Risks: Childhood vs. Adulthood
Any nostalgia you feel from childhood probably came from the natural freedom we feel as children, even (perhaps especially) if yours started to fade faster than others given the turbulent relationship you had with your parents.
But you’re your own person now, your own adult. And regaining some of that natural freedom as an adult can probably start by honing in on what matters to you whether or not it comes with praise.
If you want to relive some of the freedom you’re feeling nostalgic over, lock in on things like a good relationship with your parents – things you’re lacking or would like to improve upon. Then go and get them.
Make your risk-taking journey about being courageous enough to step into a world that doesn’t hinge on praise, but instead hinges on meaning.
To the woman who sent this question in, thank you again. I really hope this question took both of us and the listeners on a unique journey.
We covered a good amount of ground today and I wish you the best as you start to scratch the itch of risk taking a little bit, and inevitably start unlocking a new part of yourself along the way.
Everybody, if you have a question of your own you’d like to have answered on the show, go ahead and email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast DOT com
That’s the place to be. We love all the questions coming in – each one is truly a treasure in it’s own way. We’re done for now, I appreciate all you being here, and I hope to see you in the next one. Have a good one everybody.