“Find the Devil in the details.”

One of the many ironies of life is that we are sometimes scared to try new things, thus preventing us from trying, but in those cases when we try new things that we aren’t scared to try, they often backfire.   Of course, this leads to the circle of being scared to try new things.

Let’s clarify a little.

Yesterday, I sprayed myself with pepper spray.  Yeah.

Long story short, I have been doing some camping in north Georgia with my kids and thought it prudent to buy some bear spray, which is just a 12 ounce can of pepper spray.  Wondering exactly how far the canister could spray, in case of emergency, I decided to find out for myself.  I carefully took off the safety, then pfssst, did a quick spray, and many tiny particles flew into the air away from me.

Well, they taught me in boy scouts, to never pee in the wind, but failed to mention that the same thing could be said about aerosol sprays containing pepper, so a few particles drifted back towards me.  Next thing I know, I am gagging, and itching, hating life in general, and laughing at myself.

So besides the obvious fact, that pepper spray is not something to try out in my carport, I think this experience brings out an even more important point.  That is, as humans we are not that good at identifying new experiences.

You see, in my brain, I figured, aerosol canister, I know how those work, I use them in the bathroom and with bug spray all the time.  Not only that, they target certain areas, so nothing to fear here.  What I wasn’t thinking about was the makeup of the internal contents of the can!  And that made all the difference, in my case.

Had I been smart, I would have said, pepper spray.  Never seen it in action, let’s learn about how it work, before I try it.  but I went with what I could see – the can – and it brought back feelings of familiarity and safety.  So I gave it a shot.  Literally.

So what are some takeaways?

One, when you enter into a new work environment, even though the new environment seems similar, there are things that you don’t know about, so sit back and observe to try to figure out what they are before you take action.  This is a well known idea, but less often followed.

Further, there are times when we are scared to try new things, since we can’t think of similar experiences that we have had that makes it safe, or because we view the new thing as similar to negative past experiences. However, this may or may not be the case.  We might be missing similar safe activities that we should be comparing to, and would make the activity less scary, and us willing to try it.   The reason that we can’t is simply that we haven’t experienced the activity yet due to fear that is holding us back.  So try to push beyond the fear, and see for yourself, instead of letting your brain make connections that may or may not actually be there.




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