Be Afraid of the Unlived Life
A few days ago, I wrote a post entitled Don't Let it Control You, and because of the big response it received from so many of my fellow entrepreneurs, I decided to dig into the concept a bit further this morning. As I mentioned, my first step in breaking the feeling of being controlled by an external circumstance is to stop the negative, worry-filled speech that perpetrates my anxiety. But, to really end the cycle, I think we have to identify why we feel controlled in the first place. After years of struggling with the fact that I definitely have control issues, I've realized that the root of the problem is simple. The desire to control things comes from the quiet whisper of the lie, "You won't be happy if this doesn't work." You don't just want a successful career, you believe that you cannot and will not be happy if you aren't accomplishing big things. It's not that you hate being single, it's that you are afraid that you can't be happy if you don't have the perfect engagement photo as your profile picture by age 25. We develop these irrational fears because of the standards of perfection that we or other people have set in place.
How do you know if you're buying into this lie? Think about your reaction when something in your life doesn't go according to plan. If you find your identity in your relationship, do you struggle with talking about problems with your significant other to accountability partners for fear of looking imperfect? Does a poor day of sales leave you incapacitated in a Netflix binge on your couch all weekend? Is someone else's success enough to make you question your own worth all night at dinner, instead of enjoying your time with family?
When we allow one aspect of our life to determine our happiness and our self-worth, we actively refuse to acknowledge our blessings in every other area of our lives. The perfectionist in me makes me feel like all of my ducks need to be in a row before I can truly relax. It's not enough to have a great vacation with my friends, if my work week sucks, then I can't be happy. It's not enough to have a great day at the studio because if Ross had a hard day, then we both aren't in good spirits, so it's not good enough. We live our lives feeling guilty and subconsciously saying, "If I can't do this, if I can't reach this milestone, if I don't measure up, how can I be pleased with anything else?"
The simple answer? Unlearn the lie.
It's okay to love your life, even when something's going wrong. Really mull that over this morning. It's okay to post that picture of yourself, even if you're a few pounds heavier and don't feel stellar about it. It's okay to leave that email until tomorrow, in order to be fully invested in a conversation with your friend. It's okay to celebrate and dance at someone else's wedding, even when your own hasn't come along. I'm not trying to minimize our insecurities because I know how very real they are, but not living your life for fear of showing your imperfections is just that - not living your life.
Instead of fearing imperfection or failure, I'm trying to change my mindset to be afraid of the un-lived life. I don't want to wake up one morning and realize that I was too busy worrying to invest in the season in which God placed me. I don't want to be the girl who makes to-do lists instead of making memories. The longer we fixate on the bad, the less we'll notice the good, and if we do this forever, we might forget how to be thankful at all. Life's too short for that, so turn off your phone, stop ignoring your need for rest, and lose the negative self talk. Don't let your mind settle in a place where you constantly ask, "What if this doesn't work out? What if it never gets better?" Focus on the good things, the amazing things that you have been given, and you'll see less of the bad.