Deep in the sea are riches beyond compare,
But if it is safety that you seek,
Stay upon the shore.
This is the human dilemma: stay where we feel safe and secure or take risks and dive deep to seek hidden treasure. Our brains are wired both for caution and safety and also for innovation, change, growth and risk. Finding or striking a balance between the two is the art of a life well-lived.
We are constantly presented with options to stay in our comfort zone or move beyond it, in both the internal and external worlds. It may not actually be an either/or but a both/and. It's possible to move between staying on the shore, relaxing and enjoying the view, and diving into the waves, with snorkel mask or scuba gear, to explore an entire world that is invisible from the shore.
The most important question may be what is your motivation for either option? Are you staying on the shore out of fear of the unknown or of challenging situations? Or are you truly in your element simply Being an observer, being at peace?
And is your motivation for diving deep a psychological imperative, the curiosity of an explorer, the desire to know and feel more deeply? Or are you driven by a restlessness, a compulsion to flee the peacefulness, the quiet of sitting on the shore?
Perhaps looking at these questions, being honest with yourself about your heart's desire and your motivations, what you may be running from or running toward, is the true diving deep!
Peggy Handler, MFT, is a psychotherapist in San Francisco's Noe Valley