Why are we scared of making progress?

Why are we scared of making progress?

I’m about to go to bed after a good but tiring first day back at school with the children, but I wanted to post briefly about something that’s been on my mind… 

It has struck me recently that sometimes I actually hamper my own progress because I am frightened.  I am talking about spiritual progress, or essentially about coping with a particular difficult life circumstance.  I think that many of us do this.  In the particular, personal situation I am thinking of (moving on from a complicated relationship) I feel sometimes that I am actually doing a lot better than I think I am…  it may be hard but I am coping, moment to moment, and I am managing to laugh, managing to appreciate the ordinary joys of chatting with friends or looking at the winter sky.  Of course, this is a good thing.  But I realise that I sometimes feel scared of the progress I am making because it means acknowledging the end of this particular relationship–the dreams that went with it, the comfort, the ideas I had about this person and his feelings towards me, and a myriad other things I can’t explain.  Whilst I feel better, remaining in the present moment and not being such a slave to my emotions and feelings about him, it is hard to acknowledge my ‘progress’ because a part of me still wants to cling on to the old dreams, the way it was, the thoughts I have had about him and what might have been. 

It is tough.  And sometimes it feels as though I am standing on the edge of a cliff, taking a big gulping breath of cold air.  But I know that this is the right way to go, and that focusing on the present moment is the only way to truly live life and to avoid the trap of constant craving and eternal seeking.  

I guess I just wanted, as well as confessing my own thoughts, to reassure you, if you are feeling this way, that I am right there with you.  You are not failing because you are scared.  And, in making progress and moving toward a healthier platform, it is natural to feel some fear and some resistance because it means letting go of something or someone we once cherished.  It also usually means altering a long-held perspective, or losing it altogether.  These are big changes and do not happen overnight.  

I am reminded of Pema Chodron’s quote, that fear is “a natural response to moving closer to the truth”.  Searching ourselves and taking a good, close, honest look at our tangled mind is not an easy thing to do.  But I do know that it is worth it.

And I also know, in my situation, despite the pain and sorrow that still surfaces quite often, that I feel a thousand times better when I am focused on the sensations in my body and on the present moment rather than caught in a never-ending cycle of thought and longing and wondering.  

At some point, enough is enough, and you realise that you and your soul are the most precious things worth nurturing.  And that behaving in a way that is elegant, gracious and tender, without desperate clinging or anger, feels so much better.  It is hard when people leave and hurt your pride, but resolving to embrace your feelings and be conscious whilst surrending to external circumstances is the most powerful thing you can do for your own well-being and healing.

Whatever you are going through, hang in there.  We are feeling it together, and making progress, even if it scares us.  We feel that fear too, and we accept it all.  

About Louise

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  1. Happy New Year! I’m not sure i’m held back but forced to move forward. I can be saddened say that “it’s over” as i am now for instance in job,romance, and even health too but, shh on that statement unless you understand “rubber denial” “never let the facts ruin a good story” or pick any revolting cliche of cliches. it’s just “that TIME” ding, new adventure… the conversation of thoughts surrounding it is a lot of words not needed i suppose. but that’s just me 🙂

  2. This will be the fifth year of my wonderful marriage. Four years before we married, I was involved with a woman whom I was convinced was the perfect woman for me. The relationship soured, terribly. I couldn’t let go. My family members, my friends, all had the same advice, get out of the relationship! To this day I’m not sure what held me there, but I do remember that my decision to write the “break-up” letter and to never see this person again brought about such a huge relief. Why was it so painful? I think partially because I could not let go of the notion that without me this person wouldn’t make it. (In your case it may be just the opposite.) It was ridiculous of me to think so, but that thought often gave me reason, at the time, to believe I was the problem. It was when I realized the “other” person was the problem and not me that I was able to gain the emotional distance that had eluded me up to that point.

    Often “progress doesn’t appear to be progress at all. But it is…moving forward into the unknown where there’s still no guarantees. But you are stronger and that’s good!

Please share your thoughts! I'd love to hear from you.


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