Seeing the Big Picture 2:3
…continued from Fear
Were you a happy teenager? Did you like and trust people? If you were anything like me and many other people I know, the answer to these questions would be a resounding NO. When I was a teenager, I had decided that other people, especially adults, could not be trusted or relied upon and that relying on no one was the only solution to a bad situation. So I turned my back on other people and became a self-sufficient, totally independent young woman. Many teenagers adopt this attitude but drop it as they get older. I, however, continued this defiant stance into adulthood, and it served me well for many years. Or so I thought.
Not until my life came crashing down around me when my father died, and I needed to reach out for help, did I realize how utterly alone and lonely I had become. How hard it was for me to ask for help. I didn’t even know whom to ask it of, but I knew that if I didn’t, I might as well give up living entirely. So I began to take baby steps with this reaching out business.
It’s a good idea to start with something small whenever you must take a 360-degree turn in life. Or when you are about to explore new and personally untested territory. When I first set out on my new course, one small step that I took was to talk to other people who were dealing with similar issues. I wasn’t yet ready to reach out to my family, so I sought out support groups and committed myself to at least attempting to practice some of their suggestions to conquer and make peace with my fears. I was told that I had to keep the focus on myself for a while, that I couldn’t control other people’s behavior, and that I should try to let others love me while I was learning to love myself again. I listened and began to heal. Slowly, things began to change, and it became progressively easier to ask for help. For the first time in my life I felt not alone. I realized that many other people struggle with their own demons and challenges, and this realization helped me to start facing my own.
We are fortunate to be living in a time when there is a support group for every possible need. From twelve-step programs to running clinics, professional networks to spiritual communities, adult education classes to therapy groups, there is much to choose from. Take advantage of this. Do some research, talk to the people involved, ask a lot of questions. Then get involved with a group. Getting involved with a group of people who have come from a similar place and who can show you from their own experience how to find your way can be incredibly life-affirming. And until you find your own way, the group can buoy you and support you through anything.
Reach out to family members and close friends, and gather their support as you embark on this journey. Open yourself up to the people who already love and know you. Share your fears, your hopes, your dreams, your confusions with those you trust. Reach out and then listen to what they have to say.
Listening to others talk about their lives, passions, and problems and in turn talking about your own to others, whether loved ones or strangers, will help bring clarity and direction to your thinking.
As you listen, you will put aside your own problems for a while and gain perspective on them. And as you realize that everyone struggles with problems, you will feel less alone. If you haven’t a clue what you want to do or what direction you want to take, you will soon know. If you know where you’d like to go but feel stuck, you will become unstuck. Allowing others to help you with your process will bring many rewards. Simply by reaching out to others you will build self-awareness. You will gain a perspective on yourself and your life that you never had before. You will learn to listen in new ways. You will begin to understand the paradox that even though in the end we are all completely and utterly alone, we can’t possibly get there without some help from others.
To be continued…