My husband and I are in a time of many transitions with careers, family, etc. We were having a conversation the other day about a great opportunity that may possibly present itself to our family. It is something that we have talked about and wished for for many years and I said to him, “I’m so excited! I hope it works out but part of me hopes that it won’t, because it would mean a lot of change and extra work for us.” His reply has stuck with me for several days and set off a wave of new insights for me.
He said, “That’s because if it doesn’t happen you would still have the devil you know.”
In other words, the devil you know is easier than the devil you don’t know, and in this case, that new devil would be the hoped for changes bringing so many unknown things into our lives, mostly good but some challenging to be sure.
So that got me to thinking; how many ways have I chosen the devil I know over the devil I don’t know just because it would be easier? And even more to the point, how does this play out in my body?
Hmmm, the answer I got was a little disturbing.
It is easier to play small than to stretch myself, no surprise there, but what is the fall out from all those playing small decisions? STRESS. And not the good kind of stress that comes from being excited and nervous from living at your outer creative edge. The good stress is processed in your body in a different way, a better way. As Stella Resnick writes in her book The Pleasure Zone, “Any scary activity that’s fun usually stimulates a big adrenaline rush, followed by a big endorphin rush. For our physical and emotional health, we are far better off driving up our energies through endorphins, rather than adrenaline alone. Endorphins are an expansive energy rather than contracting.”
Contracting energy is the kind that shuts you down, day by day, so that eventually you don’t want to move at all. Your body feels sluggish and heavy from the accumulation of bad stress. This energy has to go somewhere and usually it shows up as a disease state or excess weight.
We don’t usually like to acknowledge this accumulation because it means changing habits that we have created over months or years. This requires us to take a close look and to play with a new ‘devil’, the unknown. The unknown can be scary but it can also be where our best self lives.
If we never jump, we never know what is possible. And it’s the unexpressed possible that is the biggest joy killer of all.