It All Boils Down To The F Word
Quick yes or no question for you....
Is there something in your life that you wish were different? Something you know needs to change? No overthinking it....the answer is either YES or NO.
O.k. Got it?
If you answered No, you are my hero and this blog post is probably not going to be very useful to you. So...carry on and keep being awesome, or magic....or whatever the hell it is you obviously are, that enables you to be utterly and completely satisfied with everything in your life.
If you are a mere mortal, like the rest of us, and answered Yes to this question, or if you're one of those people (like me) who can't give a simple yes or no answer because your brain just doesn't work that way, and end up answering something like, 'Well my life's not PERFECT if that's what you mean', or 'Yeah, there might be SOMETHING I wish were different, but it's not THAT bad', or 'Yeah, things need changing but I'm not sure exactly what or how to go about it, so I'd just prefer not to think about it'..... Then this one's for you!
Next question (What is this a test?). No, not a test. Just humour me here.
You just answered YES (or your version of yes) when I asked you if there was something in your life that needed to change/that you wish were different.
So....What's stopping you?
Seriously. Take like one minute here, and really contemplate this question. You spent longer deciding whether or not to get out of bed in time to take a shower this morning, which sweater to wear today, what you'd do if you won the lottery this week, or mindlessly surfing the internet over your lunch hour. You know you did. This question is at least as important as any of that stuff. In fact, getting to the answer could potentially be life changing. Just sayin. So...go ahead. What's stopping you from making the change(s) that you want to make? What's stopping you from doing things differently? What's stopping you from the life you would rather be living?
I'll pause here for a minute so you can answer that question. I'm not telling you what to do....but you might want to write down what comes to mind....in your notebook, on a scrap of paper, sticky note, napkin....whatever you have handy. Write it down.
O.K. I'm not like psychic or anything (well, maybe a little), but I can bet that your answer involved at least one of the following:
- I don't have the time to devote to change – I'm always working, parenting, housekeeping, volunteering, looking after other people, organizing my Star Wars collection..........or whatever it is you're always busy doing.
- Making changes costs money and I don't have money to just blow on unnecessary stuff like a gym membership, self-improvement course, healthy food, yoga class, massage therapy, retreat, finishing my B.A., (insert whatever your 'thing' is here).
- What will the people close to me think? How will they react? I don't want to rock the boat or cause problems in my relationships. I mean, things aren't perfect, but they're not THAT bad so I think I'll just stick with the 'status quo' (devil I know).
- Uh....we can't just all think about ourselves you know? That's so selfish! In our house, we were taught to put others first.
- I've tried to make changes before and it's so haaaaard.
- Well my life's NOT that bad. Everything can't be perfect you know? Haven't you ever heard of gratitude? Be happy with what you have!
- OMG – I don't actually know what's stopping me. What the hell is wrong with me anyhow?
Am I right? Or am I right? At least a version of one of these things crossed your mind if you REALLY thought about what was stopping you from making the changes you want to/need to make.
I know from experience, because I used every single one of these reasons at one time or another, that when you start really getting to the bottom of things, it all boils down to the F word:
FEAR. We're afraid. Period. Whether we choose to admit it or not. Making changes means things will be different and we're not sure we really want things to be different because we're pretty used to the way things are. Even though we don't necessarily LOVE our lives, or ourselves....we know what to expect. It's comfortable....and comfortable isn't bad right?
Except it IS. It's really, really bad.
Staying firmly planted in your 'comfort' zone can be lethal to your spirit. If you want things to change in your life, what you need to get comfortable with, is the F word. No, not that one.... FEAR remember? Stay with me here. We're making progress.
All those reasons we listed, if we're being honest, are actually just excuses we use to justify our lack of action, our desire to stay in our comforts zones and to NOT do anything scary, anything different....our attempts at avoiding the F word.
Yeah, sorry if that smarts a little. That prickly feeling you just got, or the urge to tell me to go to hell, THAT's your soul, recognizing the truth.
- We find the time for binge watching The Making of a Murderer/Friends on Netflix, reading every article that pops up on our newsfeed about how to get Kaley Cuoco's abs, searching for recipes on Pinterest that we have no intention of ever making, looking for deals on Kijiji/Ebay, making cupcakes for everyone at the office to prove how thoughtful we are......
- We manage to come up with money for the coffee, the lunches out, the beer, the shoes, the next Star Wars figurine for our collection, the brand name clothes for our kids, the monthly pedicures, giant flat screen, newest phone, bigger house......you get where I'm going with this. For the record, I'm not trying to be insensitive here. I KNOW money can be a serious hindrance and that some folks are barely getting by. I also know that there are ways of moving towards what you want, that don't have to break the bank. Stuff you can do for FREE. Maybe you can't join a gym. But you could get a walking buddy or borrow some yoga DVDs from the library. You could do your own mani/pedi at home (I do) and save that money up for something else. You could check out the bazillion FREE resources that can be found on the internet...everything from free classes to inspirational talks to DIY videos. If money is an issue, you just have to get a little creative, AND, you have to take stock of what your real priorities are.
- As for worrying about how people will react to you making changes. Been there, done that. The truth is, the people in your life who are close to you, who truly love you, WANT you to be happy. So sure, it may take them a little getting used to, but once they see that you being happy has a positive effect on everyone, they'll get over it really quick. And if they don't, well....maybe their opinion shouldn't matter that much.
- You think that putting your own well-being at the top of your priority list is selfish? Please stop being a martyr and think rationally about this. Society has sold us a total lie and we need to get over it. It is NOT selfish to care for yourself as much as you care for others. In fact, I believe the opposite is true. If you neglect your own happiness, your own self-care consistently, I can guarantee you that you are sometimes not a nice person to be around AND that eventually, it will catch up to you in the form of relationship issues, mental or physical health concerns, anger, resentment, mid-life crisis, or some other negative manifestation. There is no getting around it. I repeat, if you look after yourself and put your own happiness on the agenda, everyone around you benefits too.
- Making changes is haaaaard you say? Well, you're right....making changes IS hard. BUT, changes don't have to happen all at once. We often sabotage ourselves by biting off more than we can chew all at once. We decide we are going to get in shape, so we commit to going to the gym 5 mornings a week. Then, when we inevitably can't keep up the pace, we beat ourselves up. If we hadn't committed to such a huge sweeping change all at once, we might have stood a chance.
- Think you should just be happy with what you have because nobody's life is perfect? Hey, I am a HUGE believer in gratitude and being happy with what you have. Have you seen the stuff I post on Facebook? I also believe that there is no such thing as perfect. But, that doesn't mean you shouldn't ever want more or different. We are human beings who are meant to evolve, not to stay stuck where we are. So definitely be happy with what you have! In fact, coming at things from a place of gratitude will undoubtedly make it that much easier for you to get where you want to be. It will have you celebrating every little bit of forward progress you make. Yehaw!
- You don't know what's stopping you from making changes? Well congratulations! At least now, you've paused long enough to come to that conclusion. We can't change things we aren't aware of or don't acknowledge. So, yay you! You've just made a major breakthrough. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with you except that you are human. Oh, and if you were REALLY o.k. with just being 'comfortable', you probably wouldn't still be reading this.
So you see, those reasons you came up with that are stopping you from making the changes you want to make, are really all just different manifestations of the F word. They're different ways of saying.... "I'm afraid. Afraid of failing, afraid I don't have what it takes, afraid of what other people will think, afraid that things will be different from what I know.....Yep, I'm afraid."
The good news is, this makes you totally normal. The whole damn world is walking around afraid. Anyone who says they have no fear is either a lunatic, a liar, or the most enlightened being on the planet. Even the Dalai Lama admits to being afraid!
The difference between the people who get closer to where they want to be and the people who stay firmly planted in their comfort zones wondering 'what if?' for the rest of their lives, is that some folks choose to try anyway. Some folks refuse to let FEAR stop them from moving forward. Some folks are willing to, as Brené Brown says, be brave and afraid at the very same time.
Think back to the first question I asked you. Is there something in your life that you wish were different? Something you know needs to change?
Now what are you going to do about it? Are you going to let fear stop you from even trying? Are you going to let fear stop you from living? Or are you going to see what kind of magic lies outside your comfort zone?
P.S. After I wrote this post initially, I created an e-course called Kick Fear To The Curb, because I figure we can all use some help getting aquainted with our fear and taking action despite it. If you're ready to stop letting fear be the boss of you, check it out!