Have you ever tried a colouring book for adults before? I hadn’t, until one moment a few years ago, when shopping with my Sister-in-Law, she announced how she loved it and found colouring very therapeutic and calming. I was sceptical, my eyebrows raised slightly but then thought – why the heck not, I’ll give it a go and bought it. Colouring is now something I really enjoy and use to de-stress.
The same can be said recently when my Aunty requested I take her to bingo. I had never been before or felt the desire too – the thought of a bingo hall had previously made me cringe – but I love my Aunty, wanted to make her happy and as a wannabe good niece, we went. Well, you can call me Cilla, because surprise, surprise, I had a lot of fun. So much so, that when the Bloggers Inspired team & I were invited to Players Bingo in Camden recently, I jumped at the chance – I even won some money on that visit!
Quite light examples I grant you, but this sort of thing has happened (at various levels) a lot to me throughout my life so far. Opportunities put in front of me which I’m initially sceptical of, but actually, turn out to be positive experiences when I’ve just opened my mind optimistically and given them a go.
Why should we be open to new experiences?
I can’t say this is the case for every experience. I’ve definitely had my fair share where I’ve thought, never again. Please do not get me started on rollercoasters or zip wires!
But even in the experiences where it didn’t go so well, I’ve at least come to know myself a little better from it.
This isn’t an advocation of saying yes to everything. I want to be really clear about this. I’m all for owning your ‘no’ and using it when something is potentially detrimental to you – I’ll talk more about this in a moment.
The point I’m reaching for here is, it’s important to our overall well-being to be open to new experiences.
Don’t allow pessimistic thoughts or close-mindedness to overtake you. Instead allow yourself, if it feels right, to just take a deep breath and give it a go. You never know where it will lead or how much happier it might make you.
Ways to be more open to new experiences
Challenge your no
Why are you saying no? Is it something you could push through? If your no is fear-based, where’s the evidence what you’re scared of will actually happen (and even if it did – how bad would it actually be?)
Be kind to yourself
Think of how you would speak to a loved one who was apprehensive, but willing to give something a try. Extend this care to yourself, speak with a loving, positive internal voice.
Expect it to go well
Think of how you’ll feel if you have a great experience. Use optimism to counter-measure any nerves.
Worry less about what others will think
When I started meditating and practising mindfulness I worried about how others would judge me. Truth is you’ll never be able to control what other’s think of you. So rather than suppress yourself, you might as well live as you want. I for a fact know, if I had let the judgement of others stop me meditating, my mental well-being would have suffered.
Use this phrase: I’ll handle it
Susan Jeffers author of one of my favourite books, Feel the fear & do it anyway, advocates use of this short but powerful sentence. She states it helps you to “develop more trust in your ability to handle whatever comes your way.” Developing this underlying confidence will lead you to naturally start becoming more open to new experiences.
I just want to counterbalance this post with a short note about times when you’re absolutely right to say no.
Sometimes we can find it just as hard to say no to something as we can to say yes. You probably already know these yourself, but just to be clear…
Times when it’s right to say no*:
- When you don’t feel safe
- If it’s something you’ll strongly resent doing
- If it puts your mental or physical well-being at risk
- When a romantic or sexual advance makes you feel uncomfortable
- When you just don’t have the capacity
And if in doubt, seek out a trusted friend or family member for a second opinion!
*Source credit: Some of these suggestions are taken from Chloe Brotheridge’s book, Brave New Girl, which is a highly recommended read.