Throw Caution to the Wind

August 22, 2012 Post Comment Uncategorised

There’s a generally recognized notion that when we “throw
caution to the wind” that we are following a carefree, bold or daring course of

Of course, like many things within our common parlance and
phraseology, there are built-in presuppositions – presuppositions that the
language of our society uses to mould and shape us and our understandings of
how the world ‘works’ and how we can steer a path through it. Now, even that ‘steer
a path through it’ is a phrase laden with more presuppositions! So as you can
see we’re continually being bombarded as potential captives, victims if you
like, of our language – the language we use to those around us; the language we
use to ourselves; the language we use to code up our index of experience.

Captives and victims only remain so through ignorance and a
lack of questioning. The kind of self perpetuated cycle as engendered by R.D.
Laing’s quote “If I don’t know I don’t
know – I think I know. If I don’t know I know I know – I think I don’t know.”

Once we break the shackles of trying to understand that quote, by realising
that our thinking has got in there and distorted the intellectual and the
intuitive, we are then free to move on – knowing that we have gained a position
of dominance over our inner language.
If we are dogged by our thinking, then most of that is down to our inner
language. Dominating, having power over, our inner language makes our interaction
with our thinking something altogether more harmonious.

So – throwing caution to the wind – let’s examine some of
the presuppositions there; some of the things we have been led to believe perhaps
until now.

Basically, the assumptions are that there are things called
caution and wind, and that caution is something we can throw, and that wind is something away from us in order for caution to be thrown to it.
Once we are familiar with, and accept our usage of, this phrase then these
basics are a given. It is what is going on behind the ‘givens’ that usually
makes us yield without a fight.

Back in the ‘good old days’ of the hunter-gatherer they also
knew about throwing, caution and the wind. But the words meant something
different back then, for life then was all about survival – survival of the
fittest. And we all know that being the fittest wouldn’t have sat well with the
notion of having our modern ‘cautious’ mindset. A cautious hunter-gatherer
wouldn’t have survived, he’d have starved. The smartest hunter-gatherer was the


The first is the idea of caution. It is a mental construct,
like confidence and courage. Of course, it is a label we use to signify a
particular course of watchful physical action, and that’s quite OK. However, because
it is only a label, we then go and tag the ‘doing’ label onto our thinking; and
it is here where it takes on the persona
of the mental construct. It builds a mindset around itself and then becomes one
of the many programmes we run in our lives. We become cautious, through our thinking,
which then translates into our doing as well.

A watchful person will walk along a very narrow mountain
ledge taking note of all the incoming data he needs to notice. He’s a cautious “do-er”.

A person with a cautious mindset already has a load of
perpetually present data in his in-tray that he churns around every moment of
every day – and when HE is required to walk along that same narrow mountain
ledge, his in-tray becomes so overloaded by the same incoming data that he either
a) fails to notice something crucial to survival, or b) he is paralysed and
cannot move.
Now most of us are familiar with the phrase “feel the fear and do it anyway”,
and this is a great maxim for people with in-trays not too peppered with
caution. There’s enough room in their in-trays for them to deal with all the
incoming data in a proper and sensible way.

In order to dismantle some of the elements of a cautious
mindset that have been building up over the years, take a metaphorical look at
the mountain ledge. For each and every one of us that mountain ledge will be different,
and some may not even see it as a mountain ledge. There will be, however, some inner
representation we have about caution, and it is that representation that we can
change – through creative, imaginative manipulation and through changing our ‘language of caution’.
Just have a look at anything you are cautious about, however insignificant, and
see it from a different perspective. Feel the fear (which is really anxiety)
and use that ‘Dr Pepper’ phrase, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Move
your caution around, find out where it lies at a metaphorical level. Often the
edifices of such mindsets are built on shaky foundations and so even just
removing one brick will cause the whole structure to fall.

Wind and the Throw

Next is the idea of the Wind. When I say the word wind,
what comes into your mind? Is it an air, a vapour, a breeze – light or stiff, a
gale, a storm, a hurricane?
All wind is a movement of air, brought about by a relative difference of
pressure between two points. This is the same whether we are comparing weather
systems, or the mere act of waving a fan. All wind has motion in some
particular direction.

So when we are throwing caution to the wind, it might be a
good idea to ascertain how that wind is moving relative to us. For we would
want to make sure that the wind carried the caution away, after all, wouldn’t
we? I once said this to someone and they came back with, “But isn’t that being cautious about throwing caution to the wind?”
To which I replied, “No, it’s about being watchful in the act of doing, rather
than being cautious in the act of thinking.”

How important is the Throw in all this?

Well a throw tends to come out of a hand, so there is an
assumption that the caution you are looking to throw can be placed into the
hand that throws it. How we put it there is now a matter for creative and
imaginative conjecture.

There are many of us who can, with direction through
altering our conscious awareness, place representations of feelings,
sensations, ideas, notions, mindsets and states of mind into a different
location. So ‘plucking’ caution out of our minds with our hands, and then putting
(or throwing) that caution somewhere else is a very practical, rather than a
distant, possibility. That is the way with all inner constructs, curiously
enough – we’ve put them in there, or allowed them to be put in there, and we
can just as easily get them out.
“Oh that’s rubbish that can’t be proved!”
come the cries from the sceptics. I defy anyone to take the brain scans from an
optimist and a pessimist and prove which one sees the glass half full and which
one sees the glass half empty. However, in the head of each one of them is a representation
of that metaphorical glass and liquid – a representation that is “pluckable” in
some way, shape or form!

Now the last thing we need to ensure when we throw caution to
the wind is that we don’t throw it into the wind. If the wind is
strong, or if we are moving fast, then that caution is going to come right back
and hit us – probably full in the face! Essentially, what we are talking about here is risk assessment, where caution throwing is concerned. We just need to be
mindful, watchful when we are ‘doing’ the throwing – not just throw it with
total abandon. Be aware of the conditions and use them wisely.

Who Dares

I mentioned earlier about the ‘smartest’ hunter-gatherers
being the survivors – and the same applies today in many ways. Understanding the
mental constructs of risk and caution and applying them with conviction are
things we meet on a daily basis.

In the Olympic Games we witnessed many instances of risk
and caution played out on the sporting stage for true and noble reward. All competitors
understood the real meaning behind “throw caution to the wind”, and the
more successful managed to pluck out just the right amount of caution and threw
using the wind. We discovered in the Games that there, above all, it wasn’t
about “Who Dares Wins” because they weren’t all winners in the sense of coming
out on top. However they were ALL daring, for being an Olympic competitor is not for
the faint hearted after all!
No, I believe it is actually about “Who Dares Throws”, and here I mean about
throwing caution OR indeed anything we’ve let into our lives that is holding us
back or getting in the way of our ability to enjoy it.
Deciding to throw is not enough either – and there were
athletes who were deciding very well, and got all the way to the games and then
didn’t throw when it came down to it. Something got in their way. Those who
were smart, however, gained true success and reward.

Smart will always outrun caution because smart recognises
what caution really stands for and uses the wind really well. And for caution
you can also read anxiety, regret and quite a wide range of life’s obstacles.

So – be smart, throw caution to the wind, and remember – no
winner ever first dared not to throw!