“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”
― Carl Gustav Jung
I am not being flip by suggesting that living life to the fullest is like learning how to ride a bike! Just keep trying it, you’ll get it soon.
No one can tell you how to ride. Reading an illustrated manual can describe the process but stops short of having the wind blow in your face. Learning to ride is a muscle-memory process… it’s not a function of intellectual understanding, you simply must experience the activity.
You have to muster up your courage, climb on the bike, fall off, get back on, fall off, get back on, and you will, incredibly, begin to ride on your own. It’s not magic, even though it’ll feel like it.
Not only that, once you learn you’ll pick up almost exactly from where you had left off. Your brain will remember everything from the first session, and from every subsequent session!
Yes, from time to time you will wipe out and take a fall. It’s going to happen, because it happens to even the best riders. But you can overcome your fears because the odds are very, very small that any of your crashes will do serious damage.
In my office we can talk for hours about what to do in response to the challenge’s life has thrown our way. Clients often leave a session fully committed to a plan of action hammered out through tears and anger and resignation. And then, the following week, month, even year, the intellectualizing continues, and the conflicted feelings remain.
So often we know what to do, but simply can’t do it because we resist going through the emotional minefields that lie in the way. Let’s use another analogy, fear of public speaking. It won’t do you much good to simply repeat “there’s nothing to be afraid of, there’s nothing to be afraid of” or to read books about overcoming your fear. Ultimately you must face a real audience and face your fear.
Such is life. When we start out, we need support. It’s helpful and reassuring to be held as you first begin to pedal without the training wheels. But in the end, success is yours to savor; you did it. You believed in the outcome and you made it happen. You determined that you would not be, as the ironic saying goes, a “prisoner of your own captivity.” Success is achieved by participating in life rather than waiting for it to happen.
I can support. I can guide. I can be empathic. But ultimately, life is a DIY project. “One learns from books and example only that certain things can be done. Actual learning requires that you do those things.” (Frank Herbert).