A man has weakness, he's flawed
that flaw leads him to guilt
the guilt leads him to shame
the shame he compensates with pride & vanity
and when pride fails, despair takes over
and they all lead to his destruction
which will become his fate.
Today, I had a conversation with a friend over life choices (or the lack thereof). It will probably not come a surprise to most of you that life is a difficult thing to navigate through. Adulting is hard. We have to make choices that are going to be good for us - for our livelihood and our physical, mental, and emotional health. Sometimes, these choices only satisfy one or two of the above.
For instance, going on a vacation may be something you want to do, which will lead you to destress and be happy. However, that vacation will put you out of a good chunk of your money and the time you need to work to make more money. While we all want to go on vacations, we know that we also need to work. Thus, we have to choose how many and what type of vacations we can take.
Some of people never travel or take vacations because they are too afraid to be in debt and not have a job. This fear leads them to inactivity, working day in and day out, without much break. And then that work, unless it's your dream job, slowly wears your spirit down until you get into a rut that you cannot break out of. Or, you lose your mind and bust out of the prison, with guns blazing, into the world - quitting your job, selling all your things, and living in an RV in the middle of the forest.
While this is a bit of an exaggeration, sadly, the reality is that most of us are living in fear. We live in fear of failure, or to be seen by the masses as a failure. However, because this fear leads us to inactivity, we are making our fears a reality which leads to our fate...we become the failures that we are so terrified to be.
Breaking out of this fear-laden mentality requires risk.
Without risk, we cannot reap reward.
Many times this risk puts us initially in an uncomfortable situation which at first, feels bad. It makes us question how we could have possibly thought this stupid idea was good. If, however, we are able to push through those bad feelings, we open ourselves up to new possibilities. Granted, this opening up is not easy. It makes one feel vulnerable, you could as easily get hurt as you could succeed.
And many times, you will get hurt. Initial hurts feel like the world is ripping out your soul and stomping it into the ground. They feel as if they are never going to get any better and you are going to spend your entire life in hurt. However, hurts fade. And with every time you're hurt, you learn a lesson.
Some will take these lessons and throw them away, allowing themselves to get bitter and continually repeat the hurt. However, a wise person will learn from these lessons and to recognize the hurt when it comes around again. Once they understand that the feeling is only temporary, it will recede. Thus, knowing this, you will worry less about getting hurt and focus more on the benefits you will receive. I believe this is the beginning of true optimism.
Optimism: This is a quality that is attributed to me so much so that even my coworkers recognize it (I've been unofficially dubbed "Optimist Prime" ala Transformers). Being optimistic does not mean that I never get sad and worried (trust me, I worry all the time), but it does mean that I am willing to take more risks because I see the positive outcome of every risk, rather than the negative. It took me a long time to get to this truly optimistic point of view, but the first big step of that was learning to work with my fear.
Fear will never truly go away, it is constantly going to be there. Even for those who think they've mastered optimism, it is possible to retreat back into fear during the darkest and most anxiety-ridden times. But the more you learn to cope with that fear of losing, fear of being seen as less than perfect, or fear of being alone, the quicker you will be able to get over it and continue on the forward motion of your life.
So, ultimately, I think the first step is to identify what you want. Be honest with yourself and dig deep into your psyche to figure out what single thing would make you the happiest. Then you should assess whether or not you are achieving that thing (I'm going to guess that for most of us the answer is "no"). This is the point where you begin figuring out what kinds of risks, what kinds of uncomfortable tasks, you will need to do to help you achieve that happiness.
When I was at the lowest point of my life, immediately after leaving the husband who abused me both emotionally and physically, questioning that I had done the right thing, I came across the below article:
This article asks you the question: Are you living according to what you want, or what you don't want? It was the first time that someone (albeit an author on the Internet) had confronted me to point me to the harsh reality of the situation. I had been living my life the way I had because it was comfortable, understandable, known. However, just be cause something is familiar and you understand it, does not mean that it is good for your mental or emotional health.
In fact, it's probably the opposite. Your brain, or your ego, is so used to feeling abused that it just goes along for the ride. It would rather have things be "easy" even if they hurt, than hard with potential happiness.
I would highly recommend checking out this article if you are at a point in your life where you are question whether your current path is still good for your or if you need to make some changes, however small, that may be uncomfortable yet productive.
And everyone can do this. Trust me. I believe in you!