TO RISK OR NOT TO RISK –
That is the question
PREVIOUS: Unrealistic Expect.-UNDER
See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
REVIEW posts on (not) TRUSTING
Basic MEANING of RISK
a. Risk represents taking a chance on something. Most people only use the term to refer to any situation where there’s the possibility of harm, misfortune or loss. This is most familiar.
b. However, it’s also possible to have a positive outcome – resulting in pleasure, accomplishment & success
c. OR a neutral / acceptable result – with no danger but no gain.
In general, the most common considerations of Risk are:
• dealing with something or someone who is a known source of danger
• a chosen venture undertaken without regard to possible loss or injury
• being exposed to the chance of damage or injury, not of our choice
EMOTIONAL / PSYCHOLOGICAL
• a situation which may result in suffering shame, humiliation, being misunderstood, accused wrongly, being manipulated & used ….
• a factor, thing, element or course of action involving uncertain, unpredictable discomfort or distress
• the possibility that something unpleasant or unwelcome might happen beyond ones control
These basic definitions include “uncertain / possible / chance of...” which indicates more than one possible outcome – but NOT for ACoAs. Only the a. meaning (above) is an option for us. Toxic family rules that apply: “Life is endless suffering, You must always struggle but can never get ‘there’, Don’t expect anything good, ever”…..
Of course, in a ‘sane’ world, IF the outcome of a situation in known ahead of time based on experience, or is predictable based on dependable information, then Risk is minimized or no longer a factor. A person can take an action OR avoid a situation – with confidence. This is not wishful thinking, projecting or unrealistic expectations. It’s comes from realistic knowledge, using present-day adult ego-state evaluation.
• But that’s not how ACoAs operate. We refuse to take relatively safe actions OR deliberately pursue clearly unsafe actions – because of our very deep denial system. We persistently ignore info we do have from years of experience, only using the WIC’s distorted ‘glasses’ to dictate our interactions. We keep choosing to return to dangerous situations, stay connected to harmful people, of avoid positive & beneficial opportunities – so we keep getting burned & wonder why we don’t trust!
ANXIETY – ACoA issues around risk-taking are always about that internal anxiety. One of the characteristics on the Laundry List is: “We have become addicted to (negative) excitement after years of living in the midst of a traumatic & often dangerous family ‘soap opera’.”
ALL ACoAs are fear-based*. We usually say we have anxiety, but it’s Inner Child terror we bring with us into adulthood, & underlies every aspect of our life. This anxiety is what drives all our character defects, our acting out, our addictions – anything we feel we don’t have control of.
✶ This does not negate or ignore all of us in long-term recovery – our anxiety level may have gone way down (or not). The intensity may no longer be as strong & not all the time, if we’ve been doing emotion-release work. But the terror-base is very deep, so it never dissipates completely. SO – we should not be surprised when occasionally grabs us in the gut – if or when some combination of current events set it off again. “If it’s hysterical, it’s historical”. The difference is, or should be – that we have built a Loving Parent voice, & have years of experience in dealing with life from a healthy place, using the tools to take care of ourselves, whenever an old button gets pushed. (Use Book-ending)
• So – while some of us became adrenaline junkies other became some risk-allergic! (Yes, I know, one can be a combo…)
BTW – This is why the ‘Serenity Prayer’ is so important for ACoAs — because we get things backwards. We keep trying to do the impossible & have trouble doing what is possible! We’re not sufficiently afraid of some very dangerous ‘people, places & things’ while being overly scared of things that are not actually harmful (like having our feelings)! Lets look at both types, The Risk averse & the Risk addicted.
The counter-action / defense against this basic anxiety is to be controlling (as opposed to Being in Self-Control). It is a way to avoid any type of risk-taking – which inherently implies unpredictability. That’s why ACoAs try so hard to be mind-readers. If we can figure out what someone feels, thinks or needs 0 before they say anything – then we can adapt ourselves, to stay connected, or protect ourselves to avoid being hurt.
The greater the inner fear, the greater the need to control – in a futile attempt to keep anything or anyone from abandoning us – yet again.
NEXT: ACoAs & RISK – #2