Change Is Within Reach - Take The First Step
Fear, & helplessness often grip us, prevent us from taking action. They can perpetuate patterns of undesired action or response. So what can we do?
Have you ever encountered situations that seriously challenged you? Only later, after some reflection, you were able to recognize that strong feelings of helplessness or indecision overtook your thinking and your reactions – leaving you with an uncomfortable feeling about your self and your abilities. Just yesterday morning, my teenage son thought he saw something, something incredibly disturbing, in front of the high school. The idea of what he thought he saw bothered him greatly. He was certain that he saw a young woman, a pedestrian, injured in a “hit and run” accident on the street. The image in his mind of what he had “witnessed”, gripped him with fear to such a degree that he couldn’t bear it accurately in his mind. He was tortured, all day long, by what he saw and because of what he felt he failed to do.
In our lives we may too encounter difficult situations. They may not be life threatening, but the fear and the indecision are all too real. When the situation is over and the stimulus is removed, we may find ourselves looking back, reflecting on what had occurred and how we reacted or responded. Often, many of us feel that we failed to perform to the best of our ability, that we fell short, or in fact that we completely failed. We failed to do something, to say something, or to act. Because of that failure to respond adequately or appropriately, we feel paralyzed in the moment. Or afterward, we may become afraid that we will continue in this pattern, in the future, with the same undesired outcomes every time. We might be paralyzed in the future when we face these similar situations again.
So how do we overcome this? How do we make a change? How do we respond differently in the future? Well to start, we must recognize that there is a problem. And, once the problem is identified, we must determine that we want to overcome it. The next thing we must do is we must recognize that there is always something we can do. We all have skills and abilities that we can draw on to help us to take positive steps in certain circumstances. It may take time. It will take effort. But the hardest part can be making the decision to take those first crucial steps.
To begin, we must take time to train ourselves to stop in the situation and recognize that there is something we can do. Next we must assess the situation and identify what that something is, however small it might be. Because we know that we have the ability to make that first step, and we have now identified it, we must then step out and take that first step of action. As we begin to put these into practice, the helplessness begins to diminish. Our confidence grows. We will then recognize within us feelings of competence, and we will begin to feel more self-assured.
My son is a kind hearted, good-natured fourteen year old, and very compassionate. He is the type of young man who likes to help others and wants to make a difference. My son is a Boy Scout. He has even received training in First Aid. Yet, he had never previously encountered a life-threatening scenario before. Because he turned away, he felt ashamed. Because he failed to render assistance, he became racked by guilt. He believed at that moment, truly there was nothing he could do. He was shell shocked because of what he thought he saw. He felt helpless.
The truth is, we are not helpless, the power to change is within us. We may not be able to tackle everything in front of us, all at once. The situation may arise again and we may not be able to solve it completely. We may once again fall short. However, the fact of the mater is we must recognize that there are actions we can take. There is a positive first step. That will lead to another positive next step, followed by others. If we remain committed to change, we will in time have new building blocks that will guide us forward: increasing our confidence, increasing our experience, improving our understanding and our performance in any similar situations in the future. Be bold, don’t give up. You will see the change happen within you. Take that first step.