“I want to be you,” a volunteer at my work recently said to me.
“Me?” I asked incredulously.
I admire your courage and kindness,” she said.
Over the years, I have told other women that I want to be them. These are women who embody the virtues I aspire to—patience, compassion, kindness, wisdom and self-acceptance. I want to embody those same virtues.
So when I heard these words being said to me, I was surprised.
I suppose most of us carry around images of ourselves that focus on our insecurities, where we see ourselves falling short and not living up to our own standards, let alone expectations others might have. I know I do.I used to move a lot and hanging curtains was one of the first things I did to help me feel settled into my new place. I remember after one move, a woman at work asked how I was settling in and I told her I had my curtains up so I was in good shape. “Who hung them for you?” she asked, knowing that I was single. “I did them myself,” I replied with both a tinge of incredulity that she asked the question and also a sense of pride. She considered hanging curtains rods a challenge.
But, I have been in my current house for five years and only last week put up the last of my window treatments. I was nervous about drilling into the plaster wall. Drilling into wooden window frames is easy, but plaster?
I googled installing curtain rods in plaster walls and then I called my brother for further assurance. He concurred with the You Tube video.
So I charged my drill, mustered my courage, measured and began. I even used the level to make sure the rod was straight.
The finished product pleased me.Why had I been so resistant? So fearful?Even though others may see me as courageous, I know my inner fears. I know how I can be paralyzed by the smallest thing (like putting up curtain rods).
When this paralysis strikes, I wonder if it is a matter of accepting my limitations or being challenged to overcome a fear.In my early thirties, my therapist encouraged me to do things scared.
Act as if… my therapist advised me. We had been talking about my fears, and there were many. He suggested I act as if I had no fears, with the idea that acting as if would lead to a change in behavior, that my fears would disappear.
I was doubtful, but it actually worked, and each time I did something that frightened (or even terrified) me, I gain confidence.
From another therapist, I learned is to ask, What is the worst that can happen? In most circumstances, the worst is not so bad. (In the case of curtain rods, it would mean some repair work before reinstalling.)
Doing things scared and weighing possible outcomes have helped me become less fearful and more courageous.