I’ve been thinking about some personal changes I’d like to make, and it’s reminding me of why change is so hard.
A good friend recently pointed out some things about my behavior that I could have sworn were really about her. That is, I thought she was judging my actions through a lens clouded by her own psychological “stuff.”
In the end, after a lengthy discussion, I had to admit she was right: It was not her stuff, but my stuff she was observing. Go figure!
I saw our conversation as an opportunity to begin changing the way I related to her. And not only to her, but to other people, too.
In a nutshell, I want to be less guarded, and more flexible and communicative, in all my relationships. I want to take my defenses down and allow my tender underbelly to be exposed in situations where it’s appropriate and safe to do so.
If I’ve chosen my friends well, I won’t sustain any mortal injuries by doffing my shields — maybe some cuts and bruises, but nothing life-threatening.
Still, removing my psychological armor is a tall order. Those smooth, shiny defenses have been there a very long time … so long that they’ve deceived me into thinking they are me.
Fortunately change, while hard, is pretty simple in principle. The instructions can be summed up in one sentence: Take a risk.
Nike’s slogan, “Just do it,” also strikes me as good advice for making change happen. But it tends to raise the question, “How?”
In my field, which encompasses healing, personal growth and achievement, there’s no such thing as change without risk. Here’s a specific example, before we get back to my stuff…
How to be more confident
Want more confidence? You can get it by truly believing in yourself.
How do you build that belief in yourself? By doing something that impresses you.
How do you impress yourself? By doing something you wanted to do, but didn’t think you could.
How do you do something you didn’t think you could do? By taking the RISK of trying.
For my change goal, the big risk is showing my vulnerability and trusting that the people I’ve surrounded myself with will welcome the chance to meet a more wobbly, awkward version of me.
My confidence is a real part of who I am. But so are my needs and my fears. Allowing them all to be visible will, I hope, make me more well-rounded and easy to be with.
Even though I know that my people are good people, there’s a part of me that “knows” they’ll eat me alive if I show weakness. That latter part may be irrational, but it’s powerful, too. The risk comes down to a question of trust. Both in myself and in others. No choice there but to take a leap of faith and see what happens.
No blog post, article, book, class or teacher can create change for you or me. We can gather information till the cows not only come home but do the vacuuming and make dinner; we won’t change until we’re willing to take a risk.
There is no “How?” when it comes to taking risks for personal growth. There’s nowhere to turn, nothing to hide behind, no more information to gather. There’s only one way to take a risk, and that is to leap into the air and trust that a net will appear beneath you.
Publishing this post feels a little risky to me, and whatever small step toward change you choose to take this week will probably feel risky to you, too. We’re in this together. We have been all along.
This is how we change. Not alone, but together.