Let me be completely honest with you guys.. I am a creature of habit. I do not like to step out of my comfort zone. Don’t get me wrong, I do love new adventures, but I also love knowing exactly what is going to happen and how it will happen. I am a very Type A girl. In fact, I have a Passion Planner. For anyone who doesn’t know what that is, it is a brand of planner and it is so amazing. It allows you to plan all of your days in half-hour increments. As I bet you can imagine, I plan my life with that little book…The point I am trying to get across from you is that I would rather do something that I know the outcome of, verses doing something that is a complete mystery. Just a few days ago I was talking with my therapist about this subject. I was telling her that I was sick of not trying out all the activities and fun opportunities that I dream of because of the fear I have. We began talking about this because lately I have been determined to really find myself. After being out-of-touch with who I was for so long, (you can read my post about finding balance if you’re curious as to what I mean about this), I am finally starting to find that amazing person again. The question however: Who is she? And what does she enjoy doing?
So the other day I had an afternoon to myself. My family was working, my friends were at school, my dog was asleep, and I had nothing to do. I was feeling really motivated, I really wanted to get something done. I wasn’t sure what to do with myself though, everything that I knew I used to enjoy just didn’t seem like something I could do at that moment…and so my afternoon ended up being one spent watching New Girl on Netflix. So later that night when I was feeling guilty about the wasted motivation, I started to brainstorm about what I used to enjoy doing on a free day, something I could have spent my time doing. I used to love to experiment in the kitchen! Trying to come up with my own recipes, or just testing out other people’s recipes! But I was so quick to dismiss the idea, even though I had a pantry full of ingredients and a kitchen just waiting to be used. I also used to love writing (a passion that I have clearly, quickly revisited). But at the time I was sitting there thinking that I didn’t want to write (despite having a large list of possible blog post ideas that I have in my journal and have been trying to find time to write). I have also always loved learning. Despite having a large math test to study for, I sat there thinking that I did not want to touch my book.
I told my therapist about all these different things that I could have possibly done, yet did not. Now don’t get me wrong, lazy days are a must!! Everyone needs to rest once and awhile! The problem wasn’t that though, it was that I did not want to be lazy. I felt like being productive, yet I could not get myself to do anything. So she was asking me why I didn’t try writing, or baking, or studying. At first I told her that I had no clue. In that moment I just felt like I wanted to do something, but not those things. As we talked it through, it became a lot more clear: I did not want to do any of those activities I loved, not because I ‘just didn’t want to’, but because I was afraid to fail. I was afraid to try a recipe and have it not taste great. I was afraid to write a post, and get writer’s block. I was afraid to continue studying my logarithms, and not understand them, as I hadn’t the day before. But what kind of life are you living if you only ever dream of doing the things you love, but you never actually chase those aspirations?
If you spend your whole life on this planet only thinking and not doing, well then you’re wasting your time. The thought of failing can be scary, but if failing is the worst that you can really do, is that something you should allow to stop you from pursuing your dreams? I wanted so badly to test out some new recipes, yet I allowed my fear of failure to stop me. So what if I failed? Maybe I end up with some loaf of bread that doesn’t taste so good, I can just try again the next day. Even if it did fail, I had that experience in the books. I can still say that I tried and that I did something that was worth spending my time on. Can you imagine if I had succeeded though? Then I would have a yummy treat that I could devour and maybe share with my family (if I was feeling generous…). I do not understand why I have allowed fear to rule my life for so long, why anyone lets fear rule their life. Our time on this earth is so minimal and so precious. We need to learn to spend our time wisely, because ask any adult and they will tell you that before the blink of an eye, you are going to be seventy years old asking yourself what you did with your childhood.
I don’t know about you, but I do not want to waste the limited time that God has gifted me with. It could end in a day, or in a million, but I have no clue. So I decided the other day, while sitting on my therapist’s couch, that I wa going to make a decision that day that I would begin from that moment on to live my life by. A decision that would allow me to wake up one day and feel that I did all that I could to get the most out of this life:
I am going to stop allowing fear to rule my life. Instead of making decisions based off of my emotions, I am going to start making them based off of my values.
Now first things first, you need to figure out what it is that you value in your life. What is most important to you? This is not a simple question…in fact, it took me an hour and a stack of about one hundred cards that each had one value written on them. Out of about one hundred possible things a human could value in their life, I took time to figure out which ones were the things that I found most important; the ones that defined me, define who I am, what I believe in, how I want to live my life. Those are what I am going to start living my life by.
So what exactly does this look like for me? Well, I have quite a list of different values that I put together. Some people value a few things, some values many, and that is okay! That is what makes us all unique! To give you some ideas as to how to live by your values, I chose a few to tell you about:
- I value both passion and creativity in my life. Instead of basing my decision to not try out a new recipe for fear of failing, I should have decided I want to try one. Why? Because I value being creative and having passions. By getting in the kitchen, I would be fulfilling my love for creativity while pursuing a passion of mine! Instead I let my emotion of fear to decide that I was to stay out of the kitchen incase I didn’t make a tasty dish.
- Another thing I value is purpose. Using my love of writing or my love of learning and acting on those in that moment would have been me making a decision based on that value. I would have been acting out of purpose. I believe we all have been given a purpose by God, and so to live out that has always been something that is important to me. However, like I mentioned before, I allowed fear to make my decision instead of my values.
I hope after reading those you now understand what it looks like to make a decision based off of your emotions instead of your values. Now I would like to leave you all with some thoughts, and a bit of a challenge. Do you want to keep allowing your emotions to control your life? The emotions you feel, the thoughts that come to you, the results of what you do are all things that you can not change. You can not change the fact that things might feel scary, or that your brain conjures up scary thoughts about the outcomes of trying something new, or that living your dreams could mean failure in some aspects. However, you can change the actions that you take. Instead of allowing yourself to choose your normal, old, beaten, path that has the same outcome…that path that, no matter what, will end up at a safe destination, you should try and choose the path that hasn’t yet been traveled. Make a list of what you value most in life, and decide that from now on you are going to use that list to live your life. Live your life, and make your decisions, based off of what you love, off of what will bring you joy. That is my challenge for you. I challenge you to allow whatever thoughts or fears might come your way to come. Instead of allowing them to make the decisions for you however, you need to only allow them to be there, only to be present. You need to allow that fear to come in, it is an emotion, and it is only healthy to accept all emotions. However, I want you to stop letting the fear overtake you. Allow the emotion to be felt, but do not give it the power that you have been granting it for so darn long. You have to say to your emotions that you accept that they exist, and that they are apart of you….however, that is it! They are no longer what will be running the show. Instead they get to stay silent while you now allow your values to be the ones who make the decisions for you. You will start making decisions like deciding to forgive a friend for a wrong they have done. You are afraid that if you do that they will continue to use that against you, but you value forgiveness. You also value your friendships and want them to stay as strong as possible. It might look like this, or it might look totally different. But whatever it is at the end of the day that you go to bed at night and can truly say you’re living your life for, and is important to you, please start making your decisions based off of those factors. I can promise you that if you begin to live your life that this, that one day, you are going to be able to wake up and say you are proud of what you have accomplished. You are proud of how you spent your life, and that you wouldn’t chose to ever do it over again.