Sometimes we tell ourselves we want to change and that we want things to be different. Then, we resist every opportunity that comes our way.
We turn down the chance to meet people with shared interests when we say we want to make new connections.
We eat chocolate cake for breakfast when we say we want to be healthy and reduce our sugar intake.
We avoid applying for our dream job because we’re worried we won’t get it.
Maybe you can relate to one of these things or maybe you have your own example.
When you resist change your life feels stagnant. You find yourself wanting things but not wanting to make the effort. You might fear things not working.
And that’s valid because things might not work out. But the feeling of knowing it’s time to let your life progress isn’t going to go away until you stop resisting change and open yourself up to the possibilities of life.
I’ve often found that the feeling of anxiety grows and becomes more heightened when questions go unasked.
When we have uncertainty it creates a gap. And for those that are prone to anxiety that gap gets filled with pessimistic possibilities. Often once the feeling of anxiety has started to grow, asking questions feels too difficult or overwhelming. And so the anxiety grows further.
You can attempt to manage the unease until the situation occurs or you can push through the discomfort and ask the questions you have. A helpful reminder to go back to is that you don’t have to feel the way you feel and that you’re worth speaking up for.
From the outside it may seem strange that a person wouldn’t just ask a question if they knew it would ease their anxieties, yet from the inside it’s not so easy.
But anxiety doesn’t have to leave you paralysed. It’s possible and incredibly helpful in the long term to feel anxious and take action in spite of it.
The idea of opening up is often used to refer to situations where perhaps you’re going through something. You’re advised to open up to allow people to do things like support, help and care for you.
But I like to apply the idea of opening up to those that are closed off, in general. Perhaps you don’t open up because you have a fear of being seen. Sometimes, the truth is that you’ve allow yourself to be so consumed by the potential opinion of others that you’ve taught yourself to be as neutral as possible.
This can show up as being someone who finds it hard to say what they do and don’t like. Perhaps you’re used to saying things like ‘it’s fine’ when it’s not or ‘I don’t mind’ when you really do.
Maybe you think that no one will listen, maybe you don’t value your voice. It could even be that you’re just trying to avoid attention.
But the game of life is that by choosing not to open up you end up in situations where you don’t feel comfortable, you don’t feel heard and you’re accepting things you don’t want. Meanwhile you think that by being closed off and essentially hiding you’re making things easier for yourself.
Opening up not only gives you space to be yourself, it gives others the chance to see you as you are.
I recently tried something different and it didn’t go to plan. For a short moment I felt annoyed that I’d wasted my efforts but then I caught myself.
Was it not worth the effort to try?
Instead of getting carried away with an unhelpful story, I could choose to look at things differently. So, I acknowledged the effort I’d made and reminded myself that I’d get better with practice.
And that’s it.
It may seems simple and insignificant but, how often have you allowed one thing not working out as intended to bring down your mood for the hours that follow.
Sometimes, I remind myself of something Seth Godin has said many times that’s along the lines of, it’s not fatal, you can try again tomorrow.
And if you aren’t willing to try again, then perhaps you’ve succumbed to your fears or what you were working on isn’t worth the effort.
For those that consider themselves to be awkward and those that are self conscious of how they appear to others, being yourself can be difficult.
However, it turns out that the only way to overcome it is to embrace yourself with open arms.
Awkwardness is always amplified when you focus on it.
On the flipside, if you just focus on being yourself and provide a soft and gentle space where you let go of this idea of everything being perfect, it makes things easier.
It could be stumbling over your words when you approach someone new, your idea being shutdown in a meeting, being rejected, falling over in public or someone not getting your humour.
Nobody wants those things to happen but they’re not as bad as we make them out to be.
We can get so caught up in how we feel about ourselves and wanting to be seen a certain way that we assume things matter so much more than they do.
Your new idea might get shut down and whilst you’re now letting your inner monologue play out and tell you to never contribute again, someone else is thinking it was great idea or wishes that they’d had the confidence to contribute or even just come up with an idea.
This post is titled embracing awkward but you’re probably better off letting go of the labels and instead just embrace being yourself.
When your life isn’t exactly what one would describe as good, you may find that you’ve developed a fear of things going from bad to worse.
It is this fear that keeps you stuck, stagnant and stops you growing to potentially start living a life that is better than your current circumstances.
From the outside it might seem frustrating that you don’t take action but for you, the person that is experiencing the situation, doing nothing makes prefect sense.
But the problem with doing nothing is that things have no change of getting better.
Halloween is the perfect time of year to be reminded to do something that scares you. It could be watching a psychological thriller that gives you heart palpitations and nightmares for a week. It could also be speaking up when you have something to say, saying no instead of yes or making an appointment with your doctor about something that’s been worrying you.
When things scare us our immediate reaction is often to run away from it because in our minds that makes sense and it’ll keep us safe. However, when you run away from something, you’re actually just avoiding it. It might not be an issue for today but it’ll be still be there tomorrow. And when you avoid something but know that you’ll have to face it eventually, you end up heightening the fear.
Suddenly, just the thought of speaking up is giving you heart palpitations and affecting how you sleep.
You have the option to face the thing that scares you and do what needs to be done. The outcome might not be perfect but what matters is that you tried. You might speak up and feel like you didn’t get your points across well. But if you keep speaking up you’ll keep improving. Then, one day it won’t even be something you have to think about, you’ll just do it.
I think sometimes the fear we have of making the wrong choice is really just a sign that our mind is not clear. On the flipside, when you’re mind is not clouded over with stuff you’re able to be more spontaneous and quick thinking with your choices.
More often than we realise we know exactly what to do. However, we allow our thoughts to get carried away and we engage them even when we know it’s not helpful.
Maybe you want to pursue your love of baking but then you let your mind wonder. You start to think about money, what your friends will think, your parents being disappointed, people not getting it, worrying you’ll regret leaving your stressful well paying job, you tell yourself maybe baking is just a hobby or a fantasy career and you wonder if you’re good enough. The thoughts go on until you’ve talked yourself out of making a decision.
You now spend the coming months or even years trying to decide what to do. The truth is you’re just putting off doing exactly what you know you want to do.
If you’re in a situation that you anticipate could be challenging, you may feel like the best thing to do is back down. That way you no longer have to deal with things or worry about the outcome being far from ideal.
But backing down can also mean that you aren’t willing to stand up for yourself. Sometimes we convince ourselves that backing down is the right thing to do. Other times, we worry that by not backing down, we’re making things difficult for others.
You end up being so considerate of other people that you’re not even willing to stand up for yourself. Backing down is easy and sometimes it might even be the right thing to do. However, if you’re backing down out of fear or your desire to please or appease others then maybe you’ll be better off standing your ground.
…and when to fold ’em.
I know next to nothing about Poker but I love this phrase.
When you have the choice to either stick with something and hope for the best or to bow out and move on, it can be difficult. Sometimes we end up believing that we should stick with things until we’ve ‘fixed’ them. Or we tell ourselves that we should keep going even when it’s clear that things aren’t working well.
We think we’re doing the right thing when really we’re just making ourselves a little bit more miserable as days go by.
In contrast, walking away sounds too much like we’re giving up, that’s the reason we won’t do it.
And like that phrase goes, better the devil you know. There’s always this fear of walking away and ending up in a situation that leaves you worse off than when you started.
But that outlook is so bleak and unhelpful, perhaps it is seen as realism. However, it’s always important to consider that things might not get worse, they might actually get better.