By Scott Westerman
It’s easy to peer into the unknown and worry, to look in the rearview mirror and regret.
We can become paralyzed if we imagine some inevitable future pain we must endure, fearing that traumatic scars, real or imagined will damage us beyond recognition. We sometimes choose to give up on a dream, rather than risk the heartbreak inherent in the inevitable failures that show us the way to making them come true.
How can some people find seemingly unending reserves of energy and courage to try again and again, even as an objective mind tries to convince a subjective heart to give up?
The Swiss Psychiatrist, Carl Jung, challenges us to remember, “I am not what has happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”
Those choices can make all the difference.
- Choose to believe that scars are nothing more than tattoos with better stories. We are all warriors and every warrior has them.
- Choose not to be a victim of your pain and struggle. Choose instead to go into battle to become someone else’s hero.
- To paraphrase Emory Austin,”Some days, there won’t be a song in your heart. Choose to sing anyway.”
- Choose to concentrate only on the one time and place over which you have total control.
- Choose how you react to the here and now.
“A very small percentage of the people in this world will actually experience and live today,” writes Steve Maraboli in his book Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience. “So many people will be stuck on another day, another time that traumatized them and caused them to spiritually stutter so they miss out on this day.”
As for future fears, Bishop Beilby Porteous gave us this wisdom in the 1700s. “He who foresees calamities suffers them twice over.”
And oh, how we love to live anywhere but the present. We’ll hear a song that reminds us how we mishandled a relationship and we relive it like it was yesterday. We’ll see something that brings back a painful memory and replay the tape inside our heads at full volume.
If at first we don’t succeed, we may try again. But most things worth achieving require lots of trying. Fear of failure raises it’s ugly head and does it’s best to frighten us into losing focus, shutting down, avoiding necessity, giving up.
What do you fear? What triggers past regrets? When you step outside of your conscious mind and look at your fears from the point of view of a witness, instead of a participant, how are they different?
It’s actually essential to allow yourself to fully feel the fear, to examine the root causes of your sorrow and regret. But do so with the wisdom of of the now. The gift of experience is context. With time and reflection we can forgive others and ourselves for past mistakes. We can feed the energy of faith that manifests the courage to do what needs to be done. Everything we experience can help us more clearly understand the suffering of others and develop a deeper appreciation of what we were put on this earth to do.
It’s easy to picture courage as a powerful echo across the canyons of doubt and distress. This isn’t necessarily so. Author Mary Anne Radmacher tells us that, “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.'”
Whatever your current situation, your task is to make your life a work of art that will be admired and inspire others. It will be hard work. But anything exceptional requires exceptional effort.
Some long forgotten sage threw down this gauntlet: “At any given moment you have the power to say this is NOT how the story is going to end.” And there is only one moment in which you can write the next chapter.