How to Stay Open to Life, Even When You’re Afraid of Getting Hurt

afraid of getting hurt

What if I get hurt?

I don’t think I can cope, I can’t take that risk.

It’s better to stay safe, right?

I have a dog, and walking is something I love to do. When I do, I feel at peace with nature. For the past three months, I’ve been travelling alone in France and northern Italy. Every day I like to go off exploring. Where I am currently staying, there are acres upon acres of forest and beautiful little walks along the pilgrim’s path that weaves its way through the region.

As I have gone along my journey I have become more confident on my walks and have felt braver to explore further afield. My fears have abated. At the beginning, I was afraid of getting lost, which I have faced by getting lost twice. Both times, I was OK.

I have been rewarded for my bravery with stunning fields of butterflies and mint, being up close to a wild deer – not to mention the stunning views I have seen, and the sensation of tranquillity and oneness with nature I have experienced.

But the fear that has lingered in my life, which I have had to face up to and overcome time and again on my three-month journey, is a fear of being hurt.

This fear has penetrated my relationships, has prevented me from following my passions and longed-for career, and has kept me from truly giving of myself, in case I am hurt once more, by failure and making mistakes, or letting myself down.

For a long time, I stood safely on the side-lines, protecting myself, but missing out on the experiences and opportunities for me to grow, to love, and to receive recognition and success.

So when I decided to start my three-month journey I decided it would be about letting go and living fully in the moment, with no planning, no safety nets. I would trust in life and relish the challenge of exploring. I have been moving on every few days and, because I knew that the moment and opportunities were truly limited, I chose to commit to every moment. Instead of standing on the sidelines, I gave myself fully to the experience, to what I was doing and what I saw, heard, smelt, tasted and felt with no expectations, just curiosity.

Some of those experiences, people and places were good, stunning or extraordinary and others were bad, ugly or disappointing, but they were all experiences that I have lived. They make up my memories and part of my adventure. I have learnt a lot from both about myself and have grown in confidence.

I have been fully present, opening more and more each day, and living totally in the moment.

Today, as I set off on my walk into another area of unchartered nature, feeling buoyant and confident, I strode out at pace with the sun shining on my back, enjoying feeling my muscles working. My dog Faith and I followed the wooded trails here and there, at times having to backtrack as the path became overgrown or petered out, but this didn’t deter me.

I felt goooood…

Then as I was heading back to my car about an hour or so later, my foot slipped, my ankle twisted and I heard the scrape of gravel as the rocky path loomed up to meet my face as I reached my hands out to meet it. I slid forward, scraping my bare legs on the gravel and ripping the skin on my palms. I was flat out and face down. My skin burned and I felt a little stunned.

I picked myself up slowly, noticing that I was on an uneven path on a downward slope. I found a grassy patch to one side and sat down to survey the damage. A little blood here and there, the odd graze, but overall not too bad. My ankle hurt and my skin stung.

So I sat and breathed and let the moment pass, and gave my ankle a wiggle. All that was left was a big grazed cut on my left palm. I was hurt and I felt a little pain, but the damage was minimal; nothing that a bit of antiseptic cream and some important TLC wouldn’t heal.

Taking my time, I brushed myself down, picked myself up and re-found my footing.

Mistakes happen; I didn’t berate myself for it, which I may have done in the past. I felt no embarrassment or shame I felt able to cope with the situation.

But after my fall I made sure I took slower, steadier steps, concentrating on where I was going and staying present in the moment.

I realised that, before it happened, my mind had been wandering, thinking about a client, not looking or focusing on what I was doing. I had been walking at the same powerful pace as I had uphill and on the flat, but the terrain had changed and I hadn’t adapted to it.

Going downhill is the same as living in tune with the flow of life you don’t need to put so much effort in; you just need to allow the force of energy or momentum (gravity, in this case) to do the work.

The same is true of life. If we relax and go with the flow and listen to our intuition, it’s easy and almost effortless at times, and a clear sign that you’re on the right path.

It is essential, though, that we give our full attention to what we are experiencing, so we stay attuned to the situation, and don’t push too hard and fall flat on our faces. If we lose concentration, it is then that we make mistakes and get hurt!

By being open and staying connected to ourselves ~ our emotions, all our senses, our bodies and our natural vulnerabilities ~ we don’t have to be afraid of getting hurt. We don’t need to close down, stay small, avoid risks.

Instead, we can listen to ourselves and feel what we need, be in tune with our environment and the current situation, including the people in it. We can adapt our behaviour and responses accordingly, knowing that we have the resources and the skills to be brave and move forward with love and our best interests at heart.

And even if we trip for a moment, we can readjust ourselves pretty quickly and return to what we were doing and where we were going. We can learn from the experience what not to do next time, so that we can keep growing in confidence open to life’s experiences.

Photo by Robert Bejil

26 thoughts on “How to Stay Open to Life, Even When You’re Afraid of Getting Hurt”

  1. Jo, thank you so much for the reminder! I needed this. Sometimes we get bogged down when things don’t go as expected but we just need to learn from it and try again and enjoy the beauty and glory in it all.

  2. mahavir nautiyal

    Very nice post. It is safest to live in the moment. Mind often keeps wandering , from past moments of happiness and grief to wistful longings in the future. Result is that we slip in the present, literally ( as in the narration by Jo ) or metaphorically. Eckhart Tolle has said so in more profound manner in his ‘ The Power Of NOW ‘.

  3. Great story….we all experience moments like this! Adaptation is a hard sometimes, but a much needed thing in life. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  4. Yup. It’s important to just accept your mistakes, learn what you can do differently, and move on. Dwelling on mistakes or accidents is something that can lead to feeling ungrateful for no good reason. I need to go chill in Tuscany one of these years, preferably sooner rather than later.

  5. Nice, Jo! I especially like the way you didn’t panic when you slipped and fell, but calmly (or at least it seems like it from the way you write about it) sat down to take stock of the damage.

    I know that when things go wrong in my life and I get hurt, my instinct is to panic, ball myself up, and hide. Object lesson here…when you can remain unruffled long enough to assess what has happened, it’s often not as bad as you think.

    Although I agree on the importance of a liberal application of TLC. ;)

    1. Thanks Michelle ~ amazing I did stay calm, but because I had actually early in my travels got completely lost in the middle of rural France on foot, no phone etc – and panicked – full on snot nosed tantrum and when I finally stopped having wobble, I was reminded that nothing changed and I was still lost and that it panic doesnt get you anywhere….:-) x

  6. Hi Jo,

    Your fall reminds me of my motorbike accident in Bali. I looked away at a dog who had been hit by a car, for a second, and I got into a wicked accident. Back up on the bike in 3 weeks once my excruciating pain went away. Gotta keep exploring, gotta be open, just be present, and a bit more mindful.

    Thanks Jo!


  7. Bekal Srinivas Rao

    Relax, go with the flow, listen to self. Live life with effortless ease. Thanks Jo, for the mantra of life!

  8. There is a belief that just taking a different route to work every morning can make a difference in creativity and recognizing things not noticed before. Great message I especially like what you say in the end.

    1. Hey Matt, Thanks for your support. Yeah I totally agree withe taking a different route – always trying to put some new into your daily life can really keep the flow happening..::-) Jo x

  9. Jo,

    Great Post. So important to have less on your mind in the moment. Especially when the trail changes on you.

    I’m on a mission to help evolve consciousness. This reminder really has helped. It seems you are doing some great work.

    I might add, that in any transition there is a cycle. To give into that cycle is part of the natural order of growth, decline, and renewal.

    I certainly appreciate you sharing your journey with us.

    Warm Regards,



  10. One of the things I like about travelling is you not only get to explore the world but also get to explore your own strengths. Thank you for sharing your story.

  11. this was exactly what i needed! i’ve been too scared to pursue a dream despite years of encouragement from my husband and family, and had chosen instead to stay where i was and allowed my life to become stagnant. that was a fantastic analogy, how if we stay focused in the present and on what we’re doing, there’s no reason why we couldn’t take bigger risks and pounce on the opportunities we’re presented with. thanks for sharing this with us!

    1. Hi Liane, Thank you for your kind words and I’m so pleased it has inspired you! Good luck following your dreams and most importantly your heart ~ keep growing! Jo x

  12. Thanks Jo. Great article. In the early 90s I took myself off on a trip round the UK coast for a period of 6 weeks followed by a further 5 weeks a few months later. It taught me a lot and I lived every day embracing every opportunity because I had no intention of retracing my steps. I knew I was aware back then but now I am self aware. It’s a skill to reconnect as adults to the joy we felt as children being in the presence of the present. Continue to do what you are doing and experiencing everything…your dog’s name says it all!! x

  13. Jo, thanks for that article. I’m pursuing a dream and recently had a serious setback. Your article reminds me when you fall down take a deep breath, learn from your mistake and move on. Thanks again.

  14. Thanks for the post Jo. I’m in a phase of my life that every action/ inactions of the past are gettin to me, making me feel like im rily messed up…….came across ur article on goggle+ and I feel much better…… thanks agn

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