How do you embrace risk in your life today? How has this changed in recovery? Why can risk-taking be healthy? Spencer and SA explore these questions and others.

“A ship in the harbor is safe—but that’s not what ships are for.” John A. Shedd

Social psychology research tells us that at the end of their life, more people regret the risks they never took than the ones they did- even if it didn’t work out as they had hoped.  Today we explore the inherent role of positive, healthy risk-taking in recovery and ask: (SA note to Spencer-just ideas.  See if any resonate)

  • What does the program teach us about risk taking? 
  • Can healthy risk-taking lead to a fuller, happier life even when it requires venturing from the safety of the shore? 
  • How can risk-taking propel us forward in our personal growth? In our recovery? And in all of our affairs-i.e.-every facet of our lives? (SA note to Spencer-now that I have had a chance to marinate, I think this question may be redundant and covered on question 2. Your thoughts?) 
  • Why do we find taking risks so challenging? 
  • Is it easier to take risks in one area of our lives while we hesitate in another? 
  • If so, can that inform the areas where we may consciously choose to incorporate more small, healthy risks in order to grow?
  • Can taking healthy risks serve as a role model for loved ones in our lives?

During a global pandemic, risk taking may seem a strange topic to undertake. Aren’t we all taking risks every day just to survive? Program note-the risk taking we are discussing today is not negative, dangerous, or risky behavior, but more those behaviors that take us to the edge of or dangling precariously from our comfort zone psychologically and emotionally. They are actions that remind us that while we may prefer to live our lives as though we are made of glass-fragile and breakable, we are, in fact, made of steel-strong and tough. 

Positive Risk Taking Defined: actions where the outcome is uncertain and 1) benefits the individual's well-being (a person may gain something) 2) its potential costs are mild in severity (there is no threat to health or safety) and 3) it is socially acceptable (Duell and Steinberg 2019). 

Risk Taking Synonyms: valor, adventurousness, courage, brave deed, daring action.
Risk Taking Antonyms: cowardice, meekness, timidity. (The reason I added this is because I think it highlights the basic underlying premise of taking risks-none of us wants an MO of cowardice or timidity so it’s pretty much, take risks or perish. The antonyms are much more instructive for our purposes than the synonyms so if we are short on time, the synonyms can be cut).

  • The risks of: going to your first meeting, speaking in a meeting for the first time, rigorous honesty, getting a sponsor, completing a fourth step inventory, admitting to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs (huge risk taking requiring such courage), etc.
  • How do taking these risks pay benefits in other areas of our life?
  • Is living with failure if things don’t work out as we hoped easier than living with regret that we never took the chance?
  • Once we really embrace our own recovery, why is it no longer safer to avoid risk?
  • What do we gain by staying in the safety of our box or by running away?
  • What do we miss out on?
  • What do we stand to gain by seeing life and our actions taking risks as an adventure?
  • What barriers or challenges to taking risks are there? A few include fear (our old friend again), perfectionism, procrastination, paralysis, disappointment, rejection, pain, avoidance, self-doubt, overthinking, etc. This could be a very lengthy but informative discussion.
  • Overthinking can be a huge barrier to taking a risk. We can fall into soothing our fear of action through overthinking every permutation and combination of what ‘might’ happen. Just because we are spinning doesn’t mean we are actually getting anywhere or doing anything constructive to our personal growth.

Readings and Links

We read from Courage to Change, page 70, March 10th

Upcoming topics

An upcoming topic is balancing the “fine lines” of the recovery program. What are the “fine lines” for you? How do you balance them? lease call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

Music from the Show

Idina Menzel – Defying Gravity
Mary J. Blige – Doubt
Céline Dion – Taking Chances

1 comment on “Embracing Risk – 372

  1. Brenda says:

    Thank you so much Spenser for this and all your podcasts. Really needed this today. I’ve decided to sell my home in Florida where I’ve lived for 20+ years. My son, who may or may not be currently in recovery, lives with me and is finding it difficult to find an affordable place to move to. I know that for my own mental and physical health, my decision to leave Florida is the right thing to do but am terrified that by doing so, I might be causing my son to have yet another “slip.” Then I go back to al-anon – didn’t cause it, can’t control it and can’t cure it. Which is somewhat comforting but also fills me with despair that there is truly nothing I can do to help him with this disease.

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