Have you ever noticed that so many of life’s battles are lost due to forfeit? Think about it: How many times have you allowed an opportunity to pass you by because you were afraid to fail? I know I have more times than I can probably count. The reasons for this were varied. Sometimes I was overwhelmed or physically tired. But the most common reason was a certain level of discomfort over the ‘what ifs’ of the situation. I would be filled with dread over the possibility of a conflict, an embarrassment or any number of possible outcomes resulting in my social demise.
For example, I would see a way to improve a situation in the workplace and instead of working on that improvement, I would torture myself with doubt until I gave up on the notion. I’m not talking about making your average list of pros and cons, I’m talking about imagining other people’s reactions at my attempts and how I would react in turn. Being a woman with a very active imagination, I would build these fear-based, complex scenarios in my mind. Soon I would talk myself out of attempting whatever challenge presented itself. This wasn’t just limited to the workplace, this was applicable to many of my interpersonal relationships, too. I felt that others would reject me or my ideas if given the chance. I felt that I would become even more isolated than I already was, fearing the inevitability of total irrelevance someday. I saw myself alone, criticized, scorned…you name it. It became so exhausting to run through this litany of worst case scenarios that I finally had a moment of reckoning. I questioned where this paralyzing routine was coming from and, once discovered, zeroed in on those issues. I set out to confront my insecurities by keeping a list of the more positive aspects of being an active part of society. Next, I observed others. I especially took note of those coworkers who were less experienced and skilled, but had still surpassed me in the workplace. I wondered why they didn’t seem to have the same debilitating self-talk that had become such a stronghold in my life.
I took my observations to a life coach and worked out a plan to move out of my rut. My first order of business was to accept these 3 key points: 1) That there may be those who try to discourage me from reaching my potential. 2) The only one I can control is myself. 3) I need to build a life from which I don’t want to escape. These simple truths, along with my faith helped me to move beyond the threshold of doubt.
To bolster my newfound beliefs, I made a list of key points, some of which are listed here. The next time you’re filled with dread over what may happen by stretching beyond your comfort zone, try applying some of these:
This is an opportunity. I am grateful for the chance to grow.
Most of which I am worried about, never comes to pass.
Being nervous is nothing out of the ordinary, it may even give me an edge.
I’m doing what others can’t or won’t.
I’m practicing the uncommon art of accepting criticism graciously, without letting it stop me from showing up for my life.
I may meet someone influential that may help me change the entire trajectory of my life.
I am proud of my accomplishments.
I’m learning how to endure and flourish; an amazing life skill.
These are just a few of the things to keep in mind when you’re faced with uncertainty. Being there with your best self will do more for your esteem than sitting in a corner, letting another opportunity to achieve your goals pass. Don’t be afraid to shine. Be honest in your assessment of yourself and work on the things that can be changed. Then you will absorb life’s lessons. Then, and only then, can you appreciate the journey.