Having the courage to do what you know you have to do
If you’re at all like me, you’re cringing right now at that title alone. Maybe you even avoid articles of this nature because of the discomfort they cause you. I promise you, I get it, and I've been there, and I know I will be there again sometime. But without further ado, I thought about some concepts that have helped me and pushed me to be brave over the past several months, as difficult as they were to embrace. I think these truths are really relevant for anyone who might be in the same boat and is subconsciously looking for that boat to be rocked a little.
Talk to people about what troubles you, and talk honestly
I just think it’s so true that what you’re embarrassed or scared to talk to others about has significance. Maybe you fear a lecture from the listener, or maybe you fear admitting out loud things that are much more manageable when they live within the confines of your own brain. Unfortunately, those fears are not going anywhere if they’re not dealt with. Facing what you’re most afraid of is an enormous thing that will enlighten you in ways (I promise) you never thought possible. I am the type of person to not be overwhelmingly forthcoming, and I think I try to excuse that by my belief that I can think about something from every single angle on my own—I don’t need or want outside opinions that will only add more pressure. But it’s Just. Not. True. Talking to people you love and trust, and importantly, who love YOU, too, is an unparalleled kind of therapy for the troubled mind, no matter what the root of the troubles, and no matter how much you think sharing will either not be helpful or will be detrimental to your situation. Being honest out loud is insurance against lying to yourself. It keeps you in check, and keeps you aligned with your true feelings, not your defense-mechanized feelings. It’s truly amazing the impact talking to others can have on your courage.
Force yourself to think about tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow—fast forward
This is the thing—a lot of things in life are endurable. Just because something is tolerable and endurable at the end of the day doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. I’ve seen too many of my friends (and myself, at times) unwilling to ask AND answer the difficult questions. Even though something is endurable today, do you see it getting you to where you want to be at some point in the future? So, the difficult question, then, is how long should you stick with it for? If it’s fine today, but it wouldn’t be fine at some point in the future, then it’s important to face that reality right now. If something is inevitable, what is the benefit in procrastinating? There is only potential harm in procrastinating—harm to all parties involved. Make yourself ask and answer these extremely difficult and scary questions. They’re worth it, and time is worth it.
Put yourself in someone else’s (who you care about deeply) shoes
I think this is an incredibly powerful tool that I rely on often as a sort of internal guide. Human beings are awfully biased (consciously and subconsciously) about their own situations—they think things they’d never think otherwise, they forgive things they normally wouldn’t, and they make excuses—because human beings are adaptive. But when it comes to thinking about other people, human beings are remarkably insightful. When they’re giving advice to a friend, or when they’re thinking about someone they love and a situation outside of themselves, they have an unparalleled sense of clarity that is lost when they’re living in the thick of it. So, a helpful tool is to imagine that you’re someone else, and you’re watching your situation in the life of someone else—maybe your friend, or your younger sibling, or your future daughter. I always imagine myself as a parent because it helps me to be the most honest and true with myself—what would I tell MY daughter if she were in this situation? It takes all of the bias and the internal struggle out of it. It’s just THAT simple—if this were my daughter and she wanted to know my opinion, what would it be? What you uncover is likely to be the honest truth, and your true feelings about a situation at hand.