by Susan J. Elliott, J.D.M.Ed.
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” . . . You must do the thing you think you cannot do. – Eleanor Roosevelt
When we live our lives afraid, when we keep saying “I can’t”, we give our fears power over us and keep ourselves nestled in our old comfort zones. Breaking out of our comfort zones and frames of reference requires some strength and some courage. But the question is always, “What’s the payoff?” or “What’s in it for me?” People rarely do things, especially new things, without a payoff.
The payoff here is that we will never be that afraid of that thing or anything like it again. We will learn we have developed some new resilience because we have weathered like-storms. We will find that we have developed a new courage because we have met our fear head on.
After meeting challenges and doing the things we fear most or find the most difficult, we grow and change in permanent ways. No one can make us quite so afraid again. We are no longer the victim of our circumstances that we have been.
When we meet challenges and do the difficult things, we grow and change in ways we never thought possible. But more importantly, we will never be so afraid or so locked into our old patterns again that keep us in unhealthy and unhelpful situations.
After we get over heartbreak, it is really tough to put ourselves out there again and not be afraid of a broken heart. But we have survived this broken heart and the one before and the one before that. We will survive whatever happens. Unless and until we are sure of our ability to weather whatever storms may come our way, we’re going to miss out on observing people, miss out on red flags we need to take notice of, miss out on other opportunities that might be better for us. We will become so focused on the potential loss, we don’t enjoy the moment, but what’s more, we don’t put all of our perception and observations to good use. We’re so busy quaking inside our boots, we are not able to tap into what we need to really see and hear and understand about someone else.
When winding up broken-hearted becomes our biggest concern, we miss all the clues and hints that maybe this person isn’t right for us. Instead of being afraid he or she will leave you, be afraid you miss the opportunity to really figure out if this person is what you really want and need. Be afraid of missing the opportunity to choose freely whether or not you want this person in your life. Be afraid of missing an opportunity to assure yourself that you will be okay no matter what.
You need skills to be able to discern the value of this person, to observe this person and figure out what it is (and who it is) you want in your life much more than you need to try to trust someone you barely know.
Hone your observation skills, step back and try to figure this person out…who he or she really is…rather than, “OMG are you leaving me????” The hysterics can wait. First figure out if you have someone of value here or not. That’s where your focus needs to be. Next, you have to believe that no matter what happens, you – my friend – will be okay. Because you will be.
The next time you can say, “Yes this will be hard but I’ve done this (and more!) before so I can do it again.” Each experience makes us bigger and better than the last time and facing our fears and overcoming them becomes “what we do” and our lives become richer and e become happier. YOU CAN DO THIS!