Tired? Restless? Fearful? Can’t sleep? Ready to give up? Overwhelmed? Hurting? Numb? Lost? Betrayed? Angry? Just getting by? What’s your pain? Better yet…What’s your plan?
I’ve been there. I understand late nights. I appreciate what if feels like to be alone. And, yet, through it all, my tormented mind always came to the same resolve: What’s your plan? What can you control? What can you not control?
Michael Hyatt believes that “…Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the willingness to act in spite of my fear.” For Hyatt, the particular lesson was about a fear of confronting a demanding client. His torment was real:
I had to make a choice. I could let it go, hoping he would improve without intervention … or I could speak up. I wrestled with it all night. I tossed and turned. I got sick to my stomach. I played out every scenario. Finally, things came into focus: I could either be brave and call him on it, or I could be a coward and stop growing as a leader.
In the end, Hyatt confronted the fear and learned to press forward.
What about you? I imagine that your torment feels absolutely overwhelming right now. Why else would you be staring at the computer screen or thumbing through your phone, mesmerized by the words on this page. First, you are drawn to the fact that you are not alone…some one else has been here before. Second, you find hope that there is a way through it: Courage is the willingness to act in spite of your fear.
Now that you are fearful (or tired…or restless…or angry…or betrayed…), you can let courage take over. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'” So, what does it take to live through this horror? Here are a few tips:
- Recognize you are not alone. Let me say that again, you are not alone. Money problems? Marital conflict? Jobless? There are thousands and thousands of people who have been through (or going through) the same torment as you. Seek them. Find them. Walk next to them.
- Control that which you can control. You may not be able to control the manner in which your boss talks negatively towards you, but you can finish that report on time. You may not be able to change the mortgage payment, but you can sell your baseball card collection. You may not be able to heal family wounds that have festered for years, but you can love your children unconditionally so as to change their family tree. Make a list of the things you can control, and focus on them.
- Give up control where you have no control. At the same time, make a list of the things you cannot control, and give them up. I often use the analogy that you cannot push a wet noodle up a wall. Likewise, you cannot change your spouse. You cannot make your children sleep. You cannot force someone to do something to improve your circumstances.
- Pray or meditate on your resolve. Whether you are talking about fear, anger, frustration, or any other emotion that builds inside you, find solace and refuge in a quiet place. For me, it looks like finding a passage from the Bible that helps sustain my journey: “Do not fear for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:10). For you, it may be a time of mediation and prayer. Focus on the result and allow your courage to press forward.
Question: What helps you live through the torment and horror?