Have you ever woken up from a nightmare about your life or the life of someone you loved, and realized how drastically your life would change if that were to come true? After those initial moments does this stifle the rest of your day with fear? Or, does it fuel you forward to tell someone you love them, be grateful for what you have, or even reorient either the direction of your day, or the direction of your intended purpose, or your life?

Oftentimes when we are challenged, overwhelmed, afraid, or even marked by uncertainty, our response is to lash out. Sometimes, we don’t even realize we are lashing out, or that our reaction to something is negative or out of the norm. Other times, we are more vocal in our frustration or fear, letting others know about it, and wanting our voice to be heard, if only to find solace in knowing we are not alone in our fear or uncertainty.

Change is terrifying. Circumstantial change that is out of our control is on an even deeper level of terrifying.

Yet, what if our lives were not intended to be lived out in a constant chain of reactions to circumstantial ebbs and flows?

Let’s face it- change is inevitable. Even when we try and seize control down to every manageable aspect of our day, our lives even, change will rear its head and cause a scene. It will impact your attitude and how you go about your day, it will impact the way you interact with others and your relationships, it will impact your efficiency and productivity, it will impact your accomplishment of goals, it will impact whatever ways in which you place hope into the equation, and sometimes it will impact the trajectory of your life.

And certainly, there are things that are completely out of our control, and our efforts to fix or change them can feel like a drop in a never ending bucket.

But what if your job was not to fill the bucket? What if you were not intended to wear the weight of the world on your shoulders, as if you were in charge of making sure that not only the bucket gets filled, but that everyone does their part in filling their assigned portion of the bucket?

It is a vicious circle, this weight of change and weight of impact. The implications of circumstances changing can be crushing, and can leave you feeling empty and overwhelmed, and a variety of other things.

But there is hope, and there is life on the other side. You are not responsible for filling the bucket, or managing others to filling the bucket. And you are not going to foresee or understand every circumstance you find yourself in.

What you are responsible for, is you! Your contribution. Your attitude. Your response. Your interaction. The way in which YOU move forward.

I was once taught by a wise teacher that the opposite of love is not hate, as most of us (including myself) tend to assume. Rather, it is fear; you fear what you don’t know or don’t understand. You fear because things are not going according to plan or this thing that was your worst nightmare is coming true before your very eyes, and it makes the foreseeable future foreboding, terrifying, overwhelming, or a vast stretch of bleak with no foreseeable end. You love something when you know, understand, accept, and embrace it on various levels. But how can you know, understand, accept, or embrace both the unknown and the terrifying? Certainly every part of you wants to run the other direction, rather than wrap your arms around it and welcome it into your life.

Yet, have you ever experienced ACTUALLY doing this to a fear? If you haven’t, find someone who has. There are plenty of stories and experiences out there, of someone who has embraced something they feared, and not only lived to tell the day, but sought another fear to overcome. Someone who felt on top of the world, like they conquered the world, for embracing that fear within them, and not letting it win.

See the key is not to give into the fear, but to conquer it. To look it square in the face and say with confidence that you are stronger, bolder, better, and that you will not live in fear. Oftentimes this requires the help and accountability of others. It takes banding people together who are all willing to stand and say we will no longer let this fear overtake us.

Yet what is drastically important is that it requires not only the willingness of you and of others to stand with you, but to respond positively in love, fortitude, hope, and a strength of mind and character that says I came here, I faced it, and I walked away stronger and made something positively better.

We are better together. And if we want a positive change, we have to start with ourselves, by being that positive change. Responding in negativity or only to hinder something but not improve it will not get us as far, and will cause us to run in circles.

So how will you respond, whether it’s to that pesky nightmare that is still leaving you scratching your head or in an off mood all day, or to that thing you thought was a nightmare that wouldn’t possibly ever happen, that now has come true and marks your daily life, or your foreseeable future?

I certainly do not intend to downplay any difficult circumstances, nor do I intend to belittle your experience. Rather, I hope that you see the power that you have within you, or within your circles, to flip the script and bring about positive change.

It all starts with you and how you choose to respond. To look the fear square in the face, rather than avoid it, and declare that your positive attitude, your hope, your dreams, your willingness to work toward a better tomorrow, has much more stamina, and will win the race marked out before you.

And to realize that there are others experiencing the same fear and frustration as you, and that when you all ban together with the attitudes and attributes listed above, this does make a positive change. And this does help the bucket fill quicker, more efficiently, more sustainably.

Oftentimes you cannot conquer something until you name what it is that you are going to conquer, plain and simple. So my challenge to you is this- call it out and get moving!

That circumstance or fear is not going to change by you just ruminating about it in your head or out loud. Name those fears, but don’t stop there. Come up with a game plan. Focus on your attitude, hopes, dreams, willingness to work toward your goals, how your gifts, talents, and abilities will contribute. Find others to rally with you, to help hold you accountable or who have common interests. Make a game plan together.

And last but not least, GO FOR IT. I mean really go for it. And when you go for it, in alignment with the elements above, you will not be sorry. Sure, there will be challenges ahead. That is to be expected when tackling anything of significant weight. But let the small victories move you forward, as they are the building blocks for lasting and substantial change.

Before you know it that platform will be built, that lasting and substantial change will be in motion, and that fear will be a building block in the story of your life, no longer a terrifying what if but a reality you chose to embrace, and made better as a result.

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