My Little Toolbox

Sometimes it’s hard to see what power we hold within our grasp when we don’t allow ourselves to recognize it. I just had a wonderful conversation earlier this week that touched upon this. I was speaking with a therapist who is helping me with research I’m doing for my first book and she discussed how people play this audio recording in their head, they re-play and re-play a horrible story that has happened to them over and over without asking themselves ‘why?’ Why do they feel the need to not let it go?

In much the same way, we have the power to face changes as they occur in our lives and deal with them head-on if we choose to, but often we let certain characteristics of our personality steer the ship and if they are not welcoming to change, well, then…they guide the body, mind and MOUTH on many occasions to respond accordingly, typically not too positively.  But what if we could instead listen to those other personality traits of ours, the ones that are braver, bolder and more adventurous – overall, more forgiving – if they were in charge, wouldn’t change be a lot less intimidating?

So that’s why I asked you this question this week —
What characteristics are holding you back from dealing with change and why? And which characteristics that you possess might have the power to change that, if you let them?

One of my characteristics that really holds me back, and I’ve written on the subject before elsewhere, is fear of failure. Many times I don’t embark on trying new things because I don’t want to make a mistake, be wrong, be looked at negatively or as incompetent. So better to not try and not fail than to try and get it wrong, right?

Wrong.

How will I ever learn?  How will I ever grow? How will I ever discover what I’m truly good at if I don’t first give it a shot?

So that’s a very real problem for me. Another is fear of rejection – and this is definitely tied to said issue number one. I believe if I were to trace it, I’d have to go really far back into childhood. As an only child, and usually the smart, quiet one with the chubby cheeks, I’ve always been very insecure about myself and I experienced a lot of teasing in elementary school especially. My looks, my weight, my comfort level around other people. As an adult, I’ve learned to offset this with humor like a lot of people do, and there will likely be some people reading this amazed to hear that I’m a frightened wallflower – who see me as this talkative, joke-cracking, jovial person but that’s just a persona I force myself to wear to walk across the room and not crumble to bits. One on one, I have no problem with the art of conversation, but get me into a room with a large group of people – and worst of all, people I don’t KNOW – and I’m petrified, so out pops my little toolbox and the jokes and pop culture references start flying out in hopes that I’ll find new ways for you and me, total strangers, to relate. If you give me that glance up and down that implies that – damn, you’ve figured me out – I’m not wearing the latest fashions, yes, I could stand to lose a couple pounds (or 10 or 50), then I’ll unravel like a not-so-tightly-wound ball of string.

Change can be tough to accept when it forces you to try something new that you’ve never done or may already think you’re not good at and if it means also reaching out to other people for support or guidance in some way, a strong fear of rejection can make that difficult, too.

Now add to this stew of insecurities and neuroses impatience and stubborness, and you’ve potentially whipped up a batch of disaster in coping with change. Maybe this sounds familiar to you or you have some personality traits of your own that seem to be in odds with helping you deal with the unexpected?

Aaah, but surely there must be some positive attributes of mine to help me weather the shitstorm of change. And I’m sure you have some, too. I will say that my strong will and independent streak can be a real nuisance to others but it also has been my saving grace on more than one occasion. If you tell me I can’t do something or if a situation seems as if it’s trying to push me down and prevent me from doing something, that’s when I bounce back the most and come out fighting. I am always determined to prove something or someone wrong, and for that I’m grateful that yes, indeed I have some fire and spunk inside of me. And those can be tremendous allies when handling change.

As I mentioned earlier, I also do have a strong sense of humor and a gift for looking at the irony and humor in any situation. So even in the face of coping with personal loss, I can manage to crack a joke and alleviate some of my pain and sorrow. Much the same way I’ve learned to comfort myself in a scary room at a networking event facing these scary unknown faces by using humor, I am able to help myself and sometimes others get through rough patches of unexpected difficulty by offering levity to lower stress levels.

Change is tough. It can be the ugliest thing in its presenting moment and the most beautiful thing in its final reveal. How we choose to receive it isn’t always so predictable. Our mood, our circumstances, our present company – all can influence whether we accept or fight it. But reminding ourselves that despite our insecurities and weak moments, we have pieces of ourselves that can help us manage our fears and tentativeness when it comes to change and that is invaluable. Take the time to discover them now and keep them close at hand at all times, for your little toolbox may just save your life.

Thanks for reading.

Cheers to finding that daily spark in your life.
~Chris

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