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  • Jaime Lang

Crossing the Chasm -- Facing Your Fear of Getting What You Want

I’ve noticed a pattern that occurs frequently with people who feel that they cannot get what they want. It is something that makes the most sense to me as an analogy. Let’s imagine that you are on a journey. You have trained for this journey your whole life, crossed all kinds of terrain, passed many obstacles—all in pursuit of one truly desired object. Let’s say that this object is represented as a magical chalice. Your goal for this entire journey was to reach this chalice. You have put so much effort in to reach it and suddenly you come to the edge of a cliff with a rickety rope bridge hanging across the chasm and you can see that on the other side of that bridge is the chalice that you have been seeking.

It is right there.

The only thing between you and the object of your desire is the chasm and the only way across the chasm is over the bridge.

You look at the bridge, you see the drop. You look at the chalice, it’s right there. You start to take a step; you look back down and you think maybe there is another way. Instead of crossing the bridge you spend more time and effort traveling all around searching for another way, but you always end up at that same spot, staring down the cliff, not wanting to cross the bridge.

You can spend a lifetime doing this-- looking for a way around the bridge when the only way to the thing that you want is to cross it, because what you don’t realize is that the chalice isn’t really the thing you are looking for, the point of your entire journey was to cross the bridge and that is why you will only be successful if you go and cross it.

In this analogy the chasm represents the opposite of what you want and the bridge is realizing you can take the risk of experiencing the opposite of what you want and move past it to what you do want.

I’ll explain this pattern with a more concrete example.

Let’s say that the thing that you want most in the world is to find your soul mate. You want to be loved for who you are and find that person that deeply and honestly gets you. You might do all kinds of things to try to accomplish this. You might try to make yourself desirable, study relationships, go out and meet people, but no matter what you do you keep reaching a point where you feel like you aren’t really seen, understood, or loved for who you are. You have reached this point so many times that you eventually realize that the only way to ever experience the kind of love you want is to stop trying so hard to be desirable and allow yourself to be authentic. You know this is what you need to do because no one can love you for who you are if they don’t show them who you are, but that step of being yourself completely in the presence of someone that you are attracted to is so difficult that it becomes the bridge. The fear of rejection is so intense that you cannot put your guard down, instead you go back to look for ways that you can improve yourself so that someone will want you and the cycle repeats.

Another similar example could be of someone who wants to be a famous actor. They want people to know who they are and celebrate their success, but they are terrified of failing and of being told all the reasons they aren’t good enough. This person might study theater, take acting classes, and network but when they have an opportunity for a high-profile audition the realization that they could fail becomes overwhelming and they find reasons not to show up. Instead, they decide to take a low profile part to "practice" or sign up for additional classes so they are better prepared. They were already good enough to be invited to the audition, but instead of going forward and crossing the bridge they turn around to see if they can become famous without the risk of having their performance criticized.

In both cases the individual is close to what they want. They have opportunities to feel the fulfillment of reaching that goal, but the risk of not making it feels too high. So, they go back and look for ways around it. Doing this takes them away from what they want which was right in front of them, and instead of completing the cycle and moving forward they have chosen to re-learn what they have just finished learning. Once they re-learn everything again they have re-aligned themselves to the same opportunity to cross the chasm, they now have to make the same choice.

It’s scary to cross the chasm, but in this analogy, the bridge is there and if the bridge is there you are ready. In this situation, the only thing stopping you is you.

This article is not for everyone. Circumstances are different for different people. In this analogy there is a bridge over the chasm and the person can see what they want on the other side. Sometimes people might come across the chasm with no bridge and not see what they are looking for anywhere nearby. In these cases, I am not encouraging you to try to jump over the chasm. Chances are that doing so will lead you right into what you don’t want to experience—which might eventually lead you to resolve what you need to in order to develop the bridge and get to what you really want, but there might be easier ways to make decisions from there. This article is specifically referring to people who have been working towards something and on their way have already overcome many things and set their path in motion. People in this situation tend to already know how to trust their intuition, have a good idea of where they want to go and why, and see the next steps ahead of them—they just won’t take those steps.

In real life what this looks like is a person working towards a specific goal, learning, and growing and developing in line with it and then finding themself with an opportunity—or what they might perceive as a challenge. They do not take the opportunity or face the challenge, instead they go back and learn more and grow more and develop more and then suddenly a similar opportunity or challenge appears and again they don’t take it. Again, they go back to learning and growing and developing until another similar challenge appears. Then this person becomes frustrated because no matter how much they learn, grow, or develop they are not getting to the place they want to be. What they are failing to see is that what they want is on the other side of that opportunity or challenge. The learning, growing, and developing keeps lining them up with the opportunity to face that fear and experience the overcoming of it, but if they never actually face it then they will never have the realization of what it means to face and move past it and so it will feel like they are perpetually stuck.

If you applied this to the first example you might end up with someone who has done a lot of inner work and healing. They have learned to understand and accept many aspects of themselves and are doing things that they enjoy. This leads them to meet someone that they are truly compatible with, maybe it even brings them back to the same individual, or the same kind of individual, but the minute they realize that the person they are interested in and compatible with might be interested in them they become self-conscious. When they go on a date, they aren’t honest about who they are or what they want, instead they try to read into what the other person wants and answer questions from there. The other person might be super understanding and attracted to them for who they are—who they met when the person wanting to find their soul mate was just being themselves, but now every time they have a chance to be that self in front of their date they hide. They are given the chance to open up and be honest and vulnerable, but they skim over the opportunity and turn away instead. What this person might really want is to be seen, heard, and loved for who they are; but when they are right on the edge of having a relationship with someone who is able to do this they turn away instead. They feel inadequate and never give the other person the chance to love them in their feeling of inadequacy. This person is aware of the pattern, they know that what they need to do is put the walls down at the right time, but instead of doing it they go back and do more inner work to try to make themselves better. There is nothing wrong with them and there is also nothing wrong with doing this.

There is nothing objectively wrong with going back and repeating the same cycles over and over again if you don’t feel ready to move forward, but at some point, if you want to experience what is on the other side of the chasm, you have to cross the chasm.

There is a point where you have done all that you need to do except cross and that point can be absolutely terrifying, but there are times when the only thing left to do is take the risk. If you don’t take it, then it will be like trying to experience swimming without ever getting in the water or wanting to skydive, being prepared and in the plane with a parachute and instructor and refusing to jump out.

There is a point where you have everything you need—support, training, encouragement, understanding, direction—and all you have left to do is the thing that you want to do. When you reach that point remember that what you are experiencing is the anticipation of what you wanted to experience. You are ready and all you have to do is do it. There are times to step back, to reflect, and understand—all of that is important, but there is a time when all you have to do is cross. When that time comes cross, be brave enough to have the experience you want.

I know it is much easier said than done and if you are wanting to get to that bridge or needing encouragement in crossing it then there is nothing wrong with looking for help. If you are not at the bridge yet then it may be helpful to do some inner work to become more aligned to the bridge, there are resources available for all kinds of circumstances, but each circumstance is individual. Please utilize what you need to. If you are interested in a one-on-one coaching session, please reach out through the contact page or visit the about page for more information.

However, for those of you who are at the bridge, remember that you came to this life to experience what you wanted to experience. If you are right there on the edge and all you have to do is say yes to the opportunity—take some deep breaths, focus on the thing that you want to experience which is sitting right in front of you, and keep going. Don’t turn around. Have the courage and curiosity to take hold of that chalice. It is what you are here to do. You can do it. You are ready, that's why the bridge is there.

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