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  • Writer's pictureAlex Rathbun

Taking an emotional risk

For today's Brightly Alex Mental Health Monday, I want to talk about something that keeps coming up for me: The decision between the comfortable, guaranteed no-anxiety and the scary but potentially really rewarding.

Last week, I was not feeling myself. I had just started on new medication and I kept getting waves of anxious and depressed feelings. I had a weekend trip planned that, at the time, sounded almost more scary than fun for me. The thought that kept creeping in was that a quiet, laid-back weekend with my husband sounded more secure, more safe, and easier than flying to Massachusetts for a weekend of fun with my best friend.

This thought process can come up a lot for me: "Should I stay home and be bored while I work all day, or should I risk some potential anxiety for a more fun day working at a cool new coffee shop?". "Should I stay home this Friday night or go to the concert I've been excited about for months?". "Should I risk a new friendship that may cause me some internal anxiety or stick to the relationships I'm comfortable with?".

I don't even think that choosing the more fun or risky option is always the best choice, which is what makes this thought process difficult. Sometimes it really is better for my mental health to do what feels safe and secure in the moment. But often I am so relieved when I chose the scarier option because there's such great reward, whether that's bigger internal fulfillment, a fun experience or really good conversations. I think I'm at the point in my healing process that I can say yes more often than no to emotionally risky opportunities.

So, what did I end up doing last weekend? I got up at 4am with my bestie and flew to Massachusetts. And it was not an emotionally-perfect weekend. I still struggled but luckily could struggle around people that love me and care for me. And in the end the reward was so big: great conversations, fun adventures, fresh air, a sweeter closeness to friends and a full heart.

Where are you at with this question? Do you find yourself often saying no to things you once loved out of fear? Is that what's most healthy for you in this season? Do you need to reevaluate and possible stretch yourself past the initial fear to reap reward? There's no wrong answer, but I think it's important to pause and reflect on this in your own life.

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