The Happiness Connection  

Be afraid, but do it anyway

My friend, Chantelle Adams, is leading a day of Courage on Aug. 28. She is encouraging people to face their fears.

Facing your fears will undoubtedly involve taking a big step out of your comfort zone, and inviting vulnerability to pay you a visit.

Perhaps I was a little early to the party, but I grabbed some courage over the August long weekend, and attended an event where I wasn’t very comfortable.

I went to my high-school reunion.

It was a huge step because none of the people I knew well back in the day could make the event. I was stepping into the unknown.

Anyone who knows me as a confident adult might find it surprising that I was extremely quiet in high school. My family moved a lot, and for many reasons I was full of insecurities.

My strategy for survival was to smile and say nothing.

If you knew me well, you would know this was just a facade, but for most of the people I graduated with, they might never have heard me speak. Why was I nervous about meeting these people again and letting them hear my voice?

Going to a school reunion can be nerve wracking for many reasons. Some common fears are:

  • No one will remember you.
  • You won’t have aged as well as everyone else.
  • You won’t have been as successful in life as other people.
  • People will think you are the same person now as you were back then, and you hope that isn’t true.

With some of these worries firmly fixed in my head, why did I choose to put myself through this ordeal?

I believe being happy is a choice, and being happy has nothing to do with your circumstances, it has everything to do with how you react to your circumstances.

By stepping out of my comfort zone, I gave myself the opportunity to choose happiness and practise some of the skills I believe in.

It was also an exercise in self-examination. It allowed me to see how I was progressing on the personal development front, especially when it comes to body image.

Have you heard about the psychology of projection? We all have thoughts, feelings, and impulses that our conscious mind doesn’t want to admit to, so it keeps them neatly tucked away in our subconscious minds. 

This causes a disconnect between our unconscious feelings and conscious beliefs.

Body image is an example of a conflict that exists between my two minds. Consciously, I believe that how you look is in no way related to the type of person you are, but my subconscious doesn’t agree.

Buried deep are feelings of insecurity and inadequacy when it comes to my current physical appearance.

I was not a chubby teenager, or young adult. I was, however, curvy. I suspect that seeing Twiggy and other similarly skeletal models during my impressionable years took a greater toll on my self-image than I ever realized consciously.

As I’ve aged and become heavier than ideal, those unconscious thoughts have bubbled to the surface.

Instead of looking at myself and thinking, “If you were thinner, you would be happier,” I have tended to look at others and attach those thoughts to them.

Weight was one of the first things I noticed whenever I met anyone. I wasn’t judging them, I just noticed. I projected thoughts and feelings about my weight onto everyone around me, thinking it was their issue, not mine.

As with any type of transformation, the first step is awareness. I have been working hard for about six months, to heal the disconnect between the conscious beliefs I have about weight and those unconscious feelings that are buried deep.

Going to my reunion was a perfect chance for me to test my progress with body image. Would I spend my time noticing who was too thin, and who could afford to lose some pounds?

I was amazed that I spent virtually no time examining what people looked like, except to marvel at how many of them seemed comfortable in their own skin. I didn’t think about my own appearance either.

Score. My hard work was paying off.

Not one person asked me what I was doing for work. They were more interested in where I lived and discussing new experiences and old memories. It didn’t seem to matter who you were as a teenager, people wanted to connect with the person I was today.

I have no idea how anyone else felt about their experience, or whether they were projecting their personal disconnect onto me. That is none of my business.

My business is being aware of how I’m progressing in my journey toward robust happiness, and to leave other people to travel their own path.

I enjoyed myself at our reunion. I took a giant step into the unknown and survived.

Don’t miss experiences because you are afraid. Be afraid, see it as a learning opportunity, and do it anyway.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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