Two of the biggest drawbacks to being shy are holding back and not being assertive. I was a painfully shy boy. Climbing out of the prison of shyness has been a lifelong process of not wanting to hold back on living my true life. Holding back is a dishonest way to live. Honesty just feels better and freer than dishonesty.
To say, “Don’t hold back” is not to default to crude speech and questionable actions towards others. I’m thinking of not holding back in the sense of personal, vulnerable honesty. It is not being dishonest about who one is in the deepest sense. Of course, there will be times when it is inappropriate to reveal your deepest self. Common sense informs us of these.
To not hold back in living one’s life in order to not lose out in life’s most valuable moments, is what I’m getting at. Holding back in our primary interpersonal relationships creates a major life deficit. A lover always loses by holding back. The chances of maintaining the relationship are much better when the partners don’t hold back their honest love for each other.
It can be a daunting experience to be that open. Some people never fulfill the dream of being so close to someone and having him see all of you with no holding back. When a person holds back, the partner feels compelled to also hold back. The relationship suffers and doesn’t grow.
Getting “cold feet” can limit life. Self-preservation and prudence have their place, but being overly cautious cuts us off from potentially rewarding experiences. When we recognize what may be holding us back, we can work towards overcoming it so we can resume the business of moving forward and excelling. This is true in interpersonal relationships and other aspects of life, such as career and public service.
One of the most frustrating scenarios is to have the skills, to know you have the skills, but to not take the steps to apply those skills. Hesitation is a hard nut to crack, but the habit can be broken. To hesitate is another way of holding back. So saying, “Don’t hold back” is like saying, “Don’t hesitate”.
To get this new year off on the right foot, I’m going to hesitate less and take more calculated risks. As I get older, the truth of the saying “Life is short so don’t hold back” becomes more and more apparent. In the end, the only one who is holding me back is me.
The Blue Jay of Happiness ponders something from Friedrich Nietzsche. “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”