Making the First Move: Stepping Out on Unsure Footing
By Cathleen Elise Rossiter
I have said it before, “Relationships are tough nuts to crack.” My experience has been that the two main reasons for this is that we 1) are afraid to step out of ourselves because we might be rejected or made a fool of, and 2) make everything so complicated that we cause innumerable hurts and barriers to a wonderful experience free from stress and anguish.
Lately, I have been binge-watching Hallmark movies. Invariably, one of the main characters responds, “It’s complicated” when questioned about his or her reasons for either not expressing his or her feelings towards the other main character or for not clearing up a misunderstanding that is damaging the relationship.
Sometimes, it seems to me as though the human race is inherently a race of Drama Queens. We seem incapable of living our lives in peaceful, uneventful bliss with each other. We are forever creating drama where none need exist. For example, while having dinner with friends at a local pub, one of my friends and her sister were commenting on how great their relationship had been lately. They were talking and clearing up a bunch of old hurts and misunderstandings; they were shopping together; they were getting together to try out new recipes and have in-house movie nights. Out of the clear blue sky, a tornado hit their relationship (and our delightful evening) as her sister started an argument over a ballet recital they were both in as children. My friend was dumbfounded as accusations of treachery flew from every corner as the ill-timed and infelicitous remark sucked into its vortex every spec of goodness they had worked so hard to build, instantly crushing their relationship with stunning ferocity.
How many times is a similar scenario played out in our lives? How many variations on this theme have you experienced? Be it on the large or small screen, in literature or the news, in real life or fiction, relationships are complicated because people are complicated. Each of us has a multitude of experiences that leave their mark on our psyche. The bad experiences leave scars or open wounds from which we must heal. Since each person heals in different manners and at different rates, we cannot always expect nor be expected to be in synchronization with another person; therefore, as we are healing and learning we are going to make mistakes, we are going to complicate matters.
The key to overcoming the complications we create in our relationships is to overcome our fear of what lies beyond our comfort zone; to embrace the awkward and the uncomfortable because we hold a vision of ourselves as movers of mountains.
Whether these complications revolve around initiating a new relationship or healing of an old one; whether these complications arise out of ignorance or fear, shame or anger, deliberate or unintended betrayal; or whether these complications arise in personal or business relationships of varying degrees of intimacy, our fears of our own inadequacy or of rejection often overtake our desire to take the first step, to act. Our fears cause us to over-think the situation, which creates a web of reasons for us to remain frozen, inert.
This St. Valentine’s Day, I will send myself a bouquet of ways for me to make the first move. I will push myself to step onto unfamiliar terrain and learn how to clean up my thinking, working hard at keeping things simple so that I may move the mountains that stand in the way of the great relationships I could have with my family, friends, clients, and those with whom I am yet unacquainted.
May this month be for you one filled with awkward, uncomfortable moments as you step out on unsure footing on the road to simplicity and the joy of discovering the best your relationships have to offer.