Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bare and exposed

I may have figured it out: the reason for the majority of my stresses. Fear. I talk and write about it a lot, and I think I've understood it. But the "fear" I have is of myself - my own abilities. Max Lucado talks about feeling "cornered" and becoming "mean" the more insecure we feel. For me it's insecurity with myself. I have this grand idea that anyone can do what they think in their mind. And it may be true, but it likely isn't true at the moment of that idea. It takes time to develop abilities, even if the mind is wrapped around it.

My biggest fear is in not being able to do what I think I can do. What if I can't do it? This fear resides in the uncertainty of myself, and then my true more realistic abilities being discovered by others (when in reality they probably knew all along and just waited for me to figure it out myself). I have this warped way of thinking that leads to unrealistic expectations...of myself and of others. This way of thinking, these enormous expectations, can be divisive. These expectations can cause resentment. But what is realistic? What am I capable of? I'm just not sure. So I freak out - at myself and at others. I get so angry that I want to run away. But I really don't want to run away, so then I just get angry again. A vicious cycle develops with even greater expectations of myself, along with more anger. I blame others. I find any other excuse for others to feel sorry for myself when in reality I've done it to myself by thinking I am able to do more than I truly that time. Yikes! Give that lion a tranquilizer!

In exploring indoor rock climbing I am learning that it is important to "rationally consider your abilities...otherwise it can lead to over confidence and unexpected failure, causing a lack of confidence." Wow. How'd a Google search on rock climbing strategies know that I need this life saver tossed at me? This is huge! When I was preparing myself for my second ever climb the other day, I nodded my head as I listened to Sarah instruct me on properly tying a rope, but really I was hardly listening. I trusted her explicitly. I don't even know her. Sure, I'd climbed before. Once. 15 years ago. Before I was a wife and a mother. My perception of Sarah, my gift-of-encouragement instructor, is that she is knowledgeable about this stuff and I can trust her. I did not have any fear (that I realize) about falling or about the equipment. I just wasn't so sure about myself. Part of me wanted to thank her for her time and kindly bail out. But I stared at the wall and said out loud, "how do I I just climb?" Her response was, "yes, this first time. Just give it a try."

Sarah's advice was good. Just take a step. Give it a try. She even told me to leave my fear at the door. As I researched climbing after we spent an hour together talking more than doing anything else, I learned that it's important to survey the path. Envision the path before you, including where to take breaks, where to relax and where to power through. I also learned that it is important to "understand your abilities based on incrementally achieving performance based goals." Along with envisioning the path - up, down and around - set a realistic goal (FOR THAT TIME!), considering your abilities. "Just climbing" can be good for me. But I also need to examine my path. I need to realize my current abilities. I need to set a realistic goal. Whoa! Sounds good. But how?

As I reflect on the challenges I've had during the past few months in our situation as "Resident Directors" for eight teenage boys, I realize that I had too high of expectations of myself (just as I did in being a mother). I had this idea that I would be a supplemental "mother" for these boys, who would be my son's "brother's," and we would be one big (sometimes happy) "family" and that I would really "know" these boys. That's huge. It's asking a lot of myself (not to mention others). What would it take for this to happen? What about the time and attention I need to give myself, my husband, my son, my job? What can I realistically accomplish? And not just in total with the entire experience because that's just too big, but in a small time frame.

(I've read about imagery and there's some sense to that...but I could just sit and imagine forever without really stepping out and climbing.)

I feel bare and exposed. I'm not sure what I'm capable of. I am afraid that others will see me for who I am...much weaker at this moment than how strong I think I am in my mind. Reality and my mind are two separate and distinct things. One is true and the other is jaded (okay, not always quite true). So, I guess I need to establish a short-term time frame, and set a realistic goal that I could meet during that time frame...not looking ahead or to the side, or even thinking about what will come after I meet the goal. What I need to consider is that it isn't just my own abilities to think about, it's anything that could influence me on my way to reaching that goal. Life happens all around us and we are naive to think that we are not affected by anything else and that we can just go our own way and have control.

So, I'd like to be able to do 15 push-ups in four weeks. How? By increasing the number of push-ups by one, each week. (I'm pretty sure I can do 11 right now...)

Friends, family, anyone who loves me...please help me learn how to set realistic goals in very short time frames. "Running a marathon" is a terrific goal...but it's too far reaching to be realistic at this very moment. Remind me that the story of "The Little Engine That Could" has some merit, but just thinking you can doesn't necessarily mean that you really can right now.


  1. amy what a great post. thanks for sharing and being so "bare and exposed". You are probably one of a handful of people that i think know themselves really well and you TAKE the time to do that. for this, i love you.
    thank you for being so brave.

  2. Kate, I totally feel like I'm only beginning to know myself...who I should be, who I want to be, and who I might be. I definitely know who I am now, but I don't want to stay there. I'm totally not content there. And actually, with all the changes in my life...I'm not really sure I know who I am right now. It's a great discovery! Thanks for reading my posts, and for caring about me! I love you, too! Always and forever! I promise!