Well, I’m quickly realizing it was no coincidence that I chose 2012 to be The Year of Facing my Fears. This has been a very real struggle for me and I am finally realizing many of the things I have missed out on because of my refusal to face these fears.
In Chapter 6 of the book If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat the author John Ortberg shares the six things we lose out on if we do not face our fears. Among these are: Loss of Self-Esteem, Loss of Destiny, Loss of Joy, Loss of Authentic Intimacy, and Loss of Availability to God.
In the past four years I have watched my Self-Esteem TANK. Despite the encouragement I receive from others on how wonderful I am (and I truly am wonderful ;)) it does not seem to penetrate. Ortberg addresses this exact issue. Below are excerpts from chapter 6:
“Why are there so many people lacking self-esteem who have many reasons to have high self-esteem? They accomplish many things – they are gifted, attractive and well-liked – yet struggle with self-esteem. Even people who have accomplished a great deal and are apparently successful are often prone to feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy. Not only that, the many people who receive much affirmation and admiration from significant others tend to disbelieve it and wrestle with self-esteem all the same.
All research suggests that self-esteem largely boils down to one issue. When you face a difficult situation, do you approach it, take action, and face it head on, or do you avoid it, wimp out, and run and hide?
If you take action, you get a surge of delight, even if things do not turn out perfectly. I did a hard thing, I took on a challenge. You grow. When you avoid facing up to a threatening situation, even if things end up turning out all right, inside you say, But the truth is, I wimped out. I didn’t do the hard thing. I took the easy way out.
Avoidance kills an inner sense of confidence and esteem…
But there is something about embracing a challenge that is very important for inner well-being… When you are in a situation that creates fear, but you face it head-on, you will feel a rush of satisfaction in knowing you displayed courage.
Why don’t you conduct your own experiment of trust this week?
Sometime when you are tempted to avoid, hold your ground and press forward instead: Stand up to a bully who is mistreating others (or you) at work. Wade feet first into a task that you have been putting off because you have feared it would be difficult or unpleasant. Express your true opinion when you are talking to a person you would normally try to placate or impress.
When you do this, you will get a little stronger inside. But when you wimp out by refusing to take the difficult step or saying the hard word – you die a little inside. And if that becomes a pattern, over time you come to see yourself as someone who cannot cope with life’s greatest challenges. Where there ought to be an inner core of strength and resolve, you will experience fear and anxiety instead. You will learn to live in fear and avoidance.”
Ouch! This is absolutely what was happened to me over the past four years. Because I have chosen to run, hide and avoid certain fears, it has slowly eaten away at my confidence. I mentioned last week in Running at My Fear that I have a relationship that I have been avoiding because I’ve been too scared to face it. Well, this week I will be facing this fear. What you can’t see, is that I’m about to crap my pants right now. Ha! BUT, I’m SO TIRED of what I’ve missed out on because of it. I am no longer willing to give my confidence and energy away to this.
I know I keep harping on this “fear” topic, but I know I’m not the only one missing out by… avoiding. You already know what you have been running from. If you don’t, ask yourself right now, “What one thing am I avoiding because of fear?” The answer will come to you; if not today, it will soon. When it does, what will you do?