I was watching Extreme Weight Loss and Chris Powell said something a lot of my clients have heard me say one time or another “You have to run towards your fear not away from it.” Yes, it sounds cliche but I fully believe it. In fact, I have lived most of my life applying this principal on a regular basis. Amazingly, hearing this tonight helped me resolve a recent dilemma I have been struggling with and I think it can help you make important change in your life too.
Your worst enemy is fear.
Fear will keep you stuck because it creates avoidance so you never get a chance to prove yourself wrong. I have always been afraid of snakes so I avoided them which wasn’t hard to do. But now that I’m hiking more I see them on the trail all the time and I think they are afraid of me too. Avoidance is very hard to change because it’s comfortable. That’s why most people don’t change unless they are somewhat forced to.
Unless you learn to befriend your fear.
You can befriend your fear by talking about it. Visualizing it. Giving it a face or an image. But ultimately, the only thing that will help is stopping your avoidance. And that requires doing something new or eliminating an existing behavior. Behavior being the key word. And this happens outside of therapy, in the “real” world, where you may find you are on your own. By avoiding your fear and never trying something new you don’t learn that you can actually do it. This is very important. It is crucial in developing a sense of confidence, esteem and self-efficacy. Which leads me to my next point.
You can do it. You just don’t know it yet.
Most likely, you have very little prior evidence to support this. You also may mistakenly interpret avoidance as lack of ability. You can’t accurately judge whether you are capable of change if you haven’t tried. Numerous times. It’s possible that you will fail. It’s also almost certain that you will make mistakes. But I bet you haven’t considered the possibility that it may be easier than you think and that you might just succeed. Change is hard. But not impossible. Don’t give up.
You need the right tools.
Think of this as developing your own change tool box/kit. The first item in that kit should be information. You can’t change blind. You have to be able to see where you are going. Learn about yourself as much as you possibly can. You will need honesty and courage for this. And leave your Ego out. You won’t need it. Learn about what your challenge really is but also learn about your strengths and skills, successes you’ve had in the past, no matter how small. They have made you who you are. Learn about what scares you. When it faces you, don’t look away. You might find it’s not that scary after all. Ask for help. Seek out support from people who have gone through what you are going through. Make a realistic plan and stick to it. Celebrate accomplishing every single step by setting goals and rewards. Be patient. Practice frustration tolerance. Tell yourself you are OK. Tell yourself you can do it.
Remember to breathe.