TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. - I find that the older I get the more I want to listen to my inner voice and follow my own personal truth. However, I struggle with worrying what other people will think of me and I tend to not follow through with my goals for fear of rejection. I am tired of living in fear and want to know how to break out of this cycle and become the person I feel I am on the inside.
Signed, Ready to change
Dear Ready to Change,
Congratulations on recognizing you want more for your self and don't want to settle in order to please others. Change is difficult for most people. As a result, many people stay in their comfort zones and spend their lives wishing they had the strength to be true to themselves instead of taking action and evolving into the person they want to become. This dichotomy results in great personal stress and disappointment as people age and realize they are not being true to themselves and living their own best life.
Change is often perceived as hard or scary or dangerous. This perception results in fear and fear breeds anger. When this anger is left unchecked, it often increases and can result in toxic energy growing in the person and leaking out to infect those around them. (This is part of the projective process I have written about previously).
When this pattern gets started, the person who wants to change and grow feels scared and stuck and starts to resent those whom they believe are keeping them from growing. Then those who have been "infected" start to act out because they are feeling emotions that may not be their own. This can be viewed partly as a way to separate from those people they think are keeping them in place, and many relationships end as a result of this pattern. Sometimes it is true we outgrow people in our lives, however, more often than not, we separate from close relationships because we think the person will not like us for who we are becoming, so we push them away before they can reject us on their own.
By developing a clear view of what you want your life to look and feel like, you can start to get clear as to whether or not your life is unfolding as you want. If fear of rejection is your primary concern, try speaking your desires out loud to yourself. Develop a mantra of what want to achieve for yourself and when you are comfortable with what you are saying, confide in a close friend. You may be surprised what they want to change as well, and you may have someone to take the journey toward a better life with you.
Many of us have goals, but don't take the steps we need to because we are afraid of failing. If this is the case for you, spend some time envisioning the worst things you think could happen if you reached for your goals and they did not happen, or if you reached for your goals and you succeed. Then, begin to envision your life how it would look if you were true to your self and all of your wildest dreams and hopes did come true.
When we set our intentions on living the life we envision as if it is already ours, it become much easier to make our dream come true and live our best lives. Carpe Diem.
- Dr. Amy Vail, M.A., Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist with a private practice Squaw Valley, and a bilingual psychologist at the Tahoe Forest Hospital's Gene Upshaw Memorial Cancer Center in Truckee. She works with couples and individual adults and adolescents helping them find healthier and more satisfying ways to live their lives.