If that kid never mustered the courage to ride his bike off the ramp, he never would have felt the sensation of jumping your bike off a ramp.
Sure, he could have thought about it and got pretty close to imagining what it would feel like. And he might have. But that doesn’t compare, not in the least, with how it really feels.
While I used to be that kid that jumped his bike off ramps, in my adult life I take far fewer risks. I think a lot about taking risks, but I actually take very few.
The specific risks I’m talking about are not that scary to some people. But I rarely tell people how I feel. Whereas this, in itself, is no big deal, it scares the crap out of me. I am a people pleaser and fear abandonment if I risk conflict. I wish I could tell people how I feel and not doing so leads to a few problems.
- I don’t enforce my boundaries
- I complain about my predicament (I need to tell someone something but I don’t) to my loved ones
- Sub-par parenting (I have trouble getting my kids do things)
- People assume everything is fine with me, even when it isn’t, which perpetuates my inauthenticity
BOOM! There’s five years worth of therapy condensed into four bullets.
So yeah, that’s my people-pleasing-lack-of-boundaries-passive-whiner identity crisis right there. My old beliefs tell me that I HAVE to act this way or people will not like me, not love me, and abandon me. I realize, intellectually, that is false but my ‘self’, my ‘person’, my ‘soul’ doesn’t know how to do it. But now, I have to.
I realized last night that I don’t walk the talk because I’m afraid. My inability to grow, to cross the threshold of changing my beliefs, comes from being afraid. Some ramps are just too big, I guess.
But this is the only ramp left for me at this point. So much of my life is incredible yet I struggle to enjoy it and long for something else. I long for extrinsic factors to esteem me and guide me through my days. But I don’t want to digress, because I discovered the mechanism toward action.
I realized that the times I complain about my life are effectively identifying the areas where I need action. That’s probably very obvious to some, but I am having an epiphany. As I complained to my wife about my current issues with my ex-wife, my kids, and their ballet teacher she tried to help me find solutions. Of course, I snapped at her ideas because they all required work and induced fear. I need to stand tall and initiate some changes to my relationships and I am afraid they will abandon me if I do. There it is.
But afterwards I realized that I NEED to address these things because my old strategy of tolerating things, burying them, complaining to loved ones, and sometimes blowing up is no longer working. And by ‘no longer working’ I mean it is causing my physical stress, reducing my quality of life, and influencing my relationships with the people in my life. I would like to change those things.
I also realized, with my wife’s help, that things are not going to change if I don’t change. That means something because I spend my time worrying that I will make things worse and assume things will certainly not get better. But I realized I am less afraid of things getting worse than I am of things staying the same. What a relief! And when I can find a way toward optimism, I wonder if things might actually get BETTER because I will get these immense loads off my chest, learn better coping strategies, and maybe even CHANGE MY OLD BELIEFS!!!!
And there’s the epiphany. I have been struggling trying to change old beliefs but I really didn’t know how to do it. I think, and I hope I’m right, that the way for me to do so is to:
- Complain about what’s bothering me
- Think about strategies to address these bothersome things
- Identify the strategies that I dislike the most, or that induce the most painful reactions
- Figure out a way to address those strategies
I’m sure it’s not that simple and that some dynamic between me being upset and my wife helping me helped get me to that point, but it’s a start.
So. After I realized I need to practice healthy boundaries in a way that is scary I have planned three distinct conversations with each of the parties in my life. I’ll let you know how it goes.