(originally published June 3, 2010)
I had a caller to my radio program – a 22-year-old woman – who complained to me that she was anguished over the homecoming of her mother from a vacation. It seems life is quite terrible for this woman with “Mommy dearest” around.
I asked her why, at 22 years old, she was still living with her mother when it was such a horrible experience. Her answer was quick and to the point: “I am a coward.” I gently (yes, I can be gentle!) informed her that there is a price to everything, and the price for cowardice is anguish. There’s no fix for that without moving past cowardice.
Life situations are largely out of our control, but the decisions we make and the steps we take for responsible action are in our control. Cowardice (as my caller put it), however, is a major problem in a large number of people’s lives. That’s why you hear people argue both sides of a situation when asked why they don’t speak up, take legal action, confront, and so on. They’ll say: “Yeah, I know…,” and then cowardice takes over because they don’t want anyone mad, they don’t want to lose something (money, connection, etc.), and they don’t want to have the feeling of being alone. Because of cowardice, they will tolerate abuse and put others (like children and spouses) in harm’s way.
The tell-tale signs of cowardice are the phrases “Yes, I know…,” and “But…,” and “It’s not always so bad…,” and “But I’m not always so good either…,” and “Can’t they just go into therapy?,” and my favorite, “But what if….”
You get the picture.
Remember, ultimately, you are the architects of your own lives. Cowardice wastes your precious time on earth.