Tend to a Bruise While You’re Bleeding to Death?!?!

I got a very interesting comment to my post on changing habits. The concern was the following (I am paraphrasing here):

How do you make a friend understand that you should be concentrating on the bleeding amputated leg rather than the bruise on the arm.

The idea is that when you are bleeding to death from a severe leg injury, logic would demand that tending to the bleeding leg would take priority over the big bruise. Right? It may be obvious in the case of a physical situation. What happens when the bleeding leg and the bruise actually represent emotional, more subtle problems?

I used the word PRIORITY. It is a big word. It is also a very personal concept. My priority might not be yours and vice-versa. In addition, you have to do a bit of work to determine what is a priority for you. Working on your priorities takes a lot of discipline, self-knowledge and honesty, realism and modesty. Priorities are ever changing and therefore need to be reviewed frequently. This also means that you have to know where you stand and where you want to go, which requires honest self-evaluations. There are a few steps to take before we get there.  

The underlying imperative word is FEAR. Also a big word. Actually the most powerful and scary word in the path of the New Happy Me. It can be the most paralyzing emotion. It is deceitful and will drain you of valuable energy needed to move forward on your path. In my opinion, FEAR is the reason the bleeding leg doesn’t get priority over the bruise.

Let’s change the imagery. If you were a boxer in a rink, which opponent would you rather fight: A) Double headed 8ft giant showing his claws and teeth, B) short 6-legged alien with big eyes and 2 antennas.  OK…I’m being creative here.. but the point is you would rather have a match against an opponent who will potentially hurt you less.  And if you only had one option, choice A, you would probably bail out (as in not do it at all) out of fear of losing. This is fear of failure, fear that it will not work out.

Now, can a positive twist counter the fear factor? Let’s say, the winner of option A match will win $1million, the winner of option B match will win $1. Wow, there is a lot to gain if you try out for option A… and what is there to lose? Let’s list the Pros and Cons. This is a balance sheet stating what you gain if you win versus what you lose if you fail. Next to each item, you add points (zer0 being of no importance and 10 being of high importance) and you add up the totals on each side. The total Pro versus the total Con will give you a better idea of which decision would be more beneficial for you.  You may or may not want to participate in this match depending on this evaluation.

Giving the decision a more objective look as a balance sheet will help you manage your fear.

  • Writing down the Cons will allow you to see what you are really afraid of. The key to this exercise is to be truly honest with yourself. Once the sources of fear are out on paper, the actual words will look less scary than the images in your head.
  • The itemized benefits (Pros) will start minimizing the fear factor as well, giving more incentive for tackling the issue that was causing paralyzing fear in the first place.
  • The balance sheet will also give you more reassurance, knowing that you are calculating the risk of tackling the issue at hand. Is the risk manageable? Can you handle it?
  • You will be able to notice if you can manage it better with some help. Will getting help minimize the risk and therefore your fear?

Who knows, you may also realize that your fears were indeed well founded and you should not engage in the risky endeavour.  This is a very important exercise to master because throughout your path, you will always encounter fear. Working to face your fears will allow you to move forward.

I realize I haven’t completely answered the concern of my reader and I want to continue on my trail of thoughts. I want to write about slicing down the steps to achievement to minimize the fear factor (posted in Wealth under a slightly different view), about prioritizing, analizing your present situation, deciding where you want to go and setting goals, plus learning techniques to help incorporate these important tools in our lives.  I will try to address these topics one by one in the next posts.

One last note: Sometimes, life takes us places where we cannot possibly stay afloat without some kind of support. My opinions and suggestions should only be taken as guidelines based on personal experience. You should seek (or suggest your friend to seek) professional services when problems are overwhelming and reading simply doesn’t provide enough help.

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