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Know thy risk

We hide risk under a blanket

When we get upset because something happened we didn't expect, it's because we hid the risk of it happening under a blanket.

"I thought she would be on time." There was always a risk that she would not be on time but you hid that risk under an "expectation" blanket and set yourself up for being the victim of her behavior.

"It's frustrating that this is not going as quickly as it should." Yes, it's possible that it could have gone as quickly as you expected it to go. But that "should" is hiding the risks that things won't go as quickly as you would like them to under an "expectation" blanket. Because you've lied to yourself with "out of sight, out of mind," then you feel betrayed, which is expressed as frustration, when those denied risks come home to roost. 

We notice risks only on one side

When we see risks only on one side, we hide the risks on the other side so we don't notice the increasing costs that we are incurring on the other side by trying to reduce risks on the first side. Trying to reduce risks often incurs bigger risks elsewhere that we don't know about or hide from ourselves and others. This is expressed partially in the phrase, "The cure is worse than the disease."

"I don't want to risk her rejecting me by asking for a date." Yes, there's that risk. But on the other side, there's a 100% risk of you already rejecting yourself if you don't ask her. Also, by not asking her, you risk the chance that she will say "yes." Moreover, by not asking her, you increase the chance that you will make similar risk-avoidance decisions in your future with other women you would like to have a date with, which increases your risk of being alone in your life.


"I don't want to risk my child making the wrong life choices." Yes, there's that risk. But, on the other side, the more you try to direct and control their choices, the more they will either comply without engagement and enthusiasm or make more mistakes than otherwise by rebelling against your dictates. In the big picture, which is riskier: being a helicopter parent or allowing a free-range environment for your children?

And how about the risk that, to the extent that you protect your children from risks and making mistakes, they do not learn to be resourceful and resilient in the face of life challenges and breakdowns? 

In addition, there is a risk that you will train them to be reliant on you or others to rescue them from the predicaments they consistently get themselves into.

Finally, there is the risk that your children will not feel respected by you and they in turn will not respect you.

"I don't want to risk that my marriage won't last." Yes, that's a risk to be concerned about. But, in hiding from yourself the risks that your marriage might not last, how much do you risk taking your partner for granted and thereby risk the quality of your marriage as well as its lastability?

Or, in assuming that it should last, how much do you end up tolerating your relationship with your spouse so that you won't risk your marriage ending?

Or how much do you risk by avoiding marriage altogether by insisting on the impossible standard, "it's got to last"?


Risk is the most salient feature of life. There is negative risk, the risk that is best if we can reduce it. And there is positive risk, called possibility, the risk that is best if we can increase it. They go hand-in-hand. 

Let's open our eyes to get curious about all the various forms of risks and possibilities in our lives. A richer life awaits us to the extent that we do this.

Which risks do you hide from yourself?

Which risks do you notice only on one side?

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