Quotes such as “The biggest risk is not taking any risks” and “Opportunity and risks come in pairs” are just a few examples you might have heard in your life. It suggests that without taking risks, we will get nowhere in life. While risk taking certainly has big advantages in life, what about those of us who are more cautious in nature.
Are there any advantages to being cautious, or should we strive to become experienced risk takers instead? Lets find out what exactly cautious behavior is, and how it would differ from risk taking. From then on we can see whether you should develop your cautious personality, or attempt to train yourself to let go of it.
Let’s get into it!
What Does ‘Being Cautious’ Mean?
The term cautious personality is often misunderstood. It stems from the root ‘caution’, which means that you take care to avoid danger or mistakes. Being a cautious person essentially means that you are worrying a lot about the impact that a future event will have on your life.
Being cautious is not an action, but a fear related emotion! If you are a cautious individual, you will fear a lot of upcoming events, whether they be an exam, a presentation, or a possible confrontation. Being overly cautious is also closely associated with a lack of confidence, as you likely will not believe in your own chances to succeed.
I say less likely to succeed for a simple reason. Lets take the example of having to a presentation for either your studies or your work. If you have spend the last 3 weeks obsessively stressing over it, just imagine what the actual moment itself will feel like. I can assure you that you’ll be extremely nervous, and come over as lacking in confidence. This will lead to a decrease in the chance to succeed with that presentation.
Being overly cautious can come from many things, but I think the main one is the fear of failure. We are all scared to fail, but some have it worse than others. Further down in the article I will go over why you should not fear failure, so make sure you read that section if you feel that this applies to you!
2 Advantages Of Being Cautious
1. It Keeps Your Feet On The Ground
Being a cautious individual means that will stop to think about the impact that future events have on your life. This also means that you will have a very realistic perception of where you currently are in life. Having this kind of perception is crucial if you want to achieve your goals!
Furthermore it will allow you to continually adjust your direction of progress, so that you are able to progress towards your passion and original mission.
2. It Will Protect You
One of trademarks of a cautious individual is that they will continually look at the future. If you continuously analyze the risks that the future brings, you will be more aware of what you need to do in order to prevent mistakes and minimize any damage done to you.
Take the example of the presentation again. With experience, you should be able to accurately predict what kind of feelings you will experience when you walk up onto the stage. Knowing that, you have a big advantage in being able to prepare yourself for that moment, so that you are able to minimize the negative emotions that rush through your body.
Disadvantage Of Being Cautious
1. Being Too Cautious Will Lead To Anxiety
As I have mentioned before, being cautious is an emotion directly related to fear. Cautious individuals tend to worry and stress about the potential negative effect that a future event will have on their life. Spending countless hours worrying and stressing is also known as anxiety.
Anxiety can be very debilitating to our lives. It will tank our productivity, and will hamper our social growth as well as our emotional growth. If this fear of the future is general, it can lead to chorionic anxiety. Individuals that suffer from that are much more likely to also suffer from other mental illnesses such as depression.
2. You Become Selfish
If there is one character trait you do not want to posses, its being selfish. When you are cautious, you only think about the negative impact of the future on yourself, and often times the people around you will not appear in those thoughts. When you explain to other people why you are worried, it will quickly show the selfish nature of your thoughts.
If you are concerned with building meaningful relationships, which you should be, take great care to also include the feelings of others in your mind. It will go a long way to help and develop your social life!
3. You Will Miss Opportunities
As I mentioned above, I firmly believe that being cautious goes hand in hand with a fear of failure. If you live your life in fear of failing, you are unlikely to start learning a new skill, or going out of your comfort zone. You will be missing out on countless opportunities that will improve your life.
Being overly cautious will cause you to stay stuck in life, because you fear the process that you are required to go through if you want to progress!
4. You Become An Overthinker
Continuously worrying about stuff means you are overthinking the situation. While it is always good to have a certain even on your mind, overthinking it can often have the opposite effects of what you really want. Planning is great, but actually working on the plan is what is going to get the job done, not just thinking about it.
2 Ways To Unlearn Your Cautious Behaviour
1. Do Not Worry Or Stress Over Things That Are Out Of Your Control
I used to stress a lot about all kinds of things, even if it wasn’t under my control. It is a massive waste of energy and time to worry about something that your actions will have no effect on.
Whenever I have to explain this point, I always love to take the example of going into an exam room. During my studies I learned the importance of keeping yourself calm and collected when going to do something of importance regarding your future. In my case it was my university exams.
Being all nervous and stressed out as you walk into that exam is pointless. There is nothing more you can do now to increase your chances of passing. You just have to go into that room, and do the best you can with the tools that you have got. Do not stress, if you did your best preparing for that exam, there is nothing more you could have done. Just go in there and see what happens.
2. Don’t Fear Failure
As mentioned if the first part of this article, I believe that being cautious is directly related to an individual’s fear of failure. If you are not scared to fail, then why would you have such a cautious approach to the situation?
Understanding that you shouldn’t fear failure is much easier said than done. But you have to understand that without failing in life, you will never ever succeed. If you fail at something in life, make sure you understand why you failed. Don’t make excuses, and be real with yourself. I recently wrote about a mental exercise you could do to figure out the real reason why you failed, so make sure you read about it here!
Overall I find that being a cautious person has more disadvantages than advantages in life. The only time you should be cautious about a future scenario is if it is something you have absolutely 0 experience in. But even then, don’t let your worry and fear take over. Make sure you spend more time working on becoming more prepared, than time spend thinking of how unprepared you really are.