This post is inspired by Chani Nicholas.
As Chani Nicholas wisely puts it ~ “…confronting fears is not the same as confronting people.”
We confront our fears because they have held us back or kept us small. We did not grow or progress as a result of succumbing to our fears. It is only in facing our fears that we can overcome them.
However, we do not confront people just because they bring out the fear in us. We do not antagonise people just because something they said or did has somehow brought out the fears in us.
There is a HUGE difference in rising to meet our fears, and (not) rising to challenge the people around us. Once we understand this difference, we will be fighting the “right enemies”.
Here, I’d like to share two incidences in my life where I have truly damaged friendships because I did not confront my fears but the people around me. I did not understand who my real enemy was back then.
The first incident occurred more than 20 years ago. I was working with a team of good friends on a project. They do say that we should not work with friends or loved ones because it may destroy the friendship/relationship. This is why.
When we are working closely together, there are many things which will test that friendship or relationship. The process itself, if it is challenging enough, will also magnify each individual’s weaknesses as well as strengths. In fact, more than anything else, the process will flush out what is well and truly lacking in the team – as a whole, and as individuals. This is why team spirit, or team work is not easy to cultivate.
In this particular case, all my insecurities and fears flared like giant neon billboard signs. I was stressed out, exhausted, and ran on panic mode throughout the project. At that time, we all blamed the project itself for the problems we were facing. However, upon closer examination – it was our individual and collective fears which ruined the project and our friendship. I lost all my friends before the project could take off. Eventually, all of us relocated, and none of us kept in touch. I did try to find them online or through similar friends, but no one has bothered to stay connected to this very day. So, the loss is gravely mine.
The second incident is more recent. It happened about a year ago. The five of us (all good friends) had a vision, and we wanted to build something with our vision. Our ideas and plans were valid. However, my fears reared its ugly head yet again.
This is what happens when we don’t deal with an issue – it comes back nastier to bite our ass!
Whatever intentions I may have had, and however good they were – it was all useless. Again, I had allowed my fear of failure, or distrust, insecurity, and even impatience to get the better of me. And no matter what the rest of the partners did, it only highlighted my own fears in a very bad way. So, instead of confronting my fears (as I should), I “attacked” my friends/partners instead.
The truth is – our fear wears many disguises to fool us.
Often than not, it pretends to be someone else’s problem or issue. Not ours. So, we tend to blame that someone else but not look at ourselves. It is always easier to point that accusing finger at another person.
It took a while for the five of us to calm down and return to our senses. Especially me. We were not quite the same after that fall out. Our friendship had become a little “distanced”.
Hence, after identifying who my real enemy was – I realised what I had to do. I was not going to allow history to repeat itself. I wanted a very different outcome.
Nothing changes until we confront our fears and mistakes.
So, I summoned my courage and went back to apologise to all my partners/friends. They were my dear friends before they were partners. They were there for me throughout the entire process. We may have our differing opinions and preferences, but none warranted my outbursts or lousy behaviour.
This is what I realised after the rage or misunderstanding had settled – I adore my friends/partners. I really do. If I were to build any vision at all, there would be no one else I rather do it with than the four of them. Frankly, with or without the vision, I still wanted my friends back. I missed them badly. What the five of us do have is an amazing friendship that have withstood some trials and tribulations. All the prize and money in the world can’t buy that kind of friendship. It is all about heart.
In the end, I did more than just apologising. I had to repair the ill feelings and misunderstandings. That took a while. But it was all worth it.
Sometimes, we think that just by saying sorry will suffice. But that does not really heal. Correcting a wrong demands that we follow through with actions. Real remedial actions. We need to be consistent with this. Otherwise, it becomes hollow and superficial. Then, nothing will change. And we won’t change for the better either. Hence, there will not be a positive or beneficial outcome that lasts for all concerned.
So, I kept working at rebuilding the friendship. It is only recently that we have managed to reclaim the same closeness that we used to share.
In confronting my fears, my reward is my four friends. The five of us now share a stronger, and deeper bond.
Oh yes, that particular fear I had? I am happy to report that it has been kicked royally in the butt. Several times, I might add.
I win, fear loses. That’s my bonus.
I am truly grateful that I had a chance to right my wrongs before it was too late.
I am extremely thankful that my friends have a gracious and generous heart that forgives.
In life, we may lose many things and people along the way. It is important to remember, and recognise who are the true gems in our lives.
As always, start your own brand of fearless living and love the life you live.
Don’t let fear ruin you, or your life.
Be your own hero/heroine.
Fight the real enemies, and not the people who love you or have supported you.
Peace, my dear friends 🙂