You can’t do that?
You’re not good enough.
You’re not smart enough.
You don’t have all the skills necessary.
Nobody cares about what you’re doing.
No one believes in you.
No one supports you.
Nobody wants to help you.
What made you think you could do that anyway?
You’re not making any progress.
You’re wasting your time.
“Wow! How do you really feel about me?” I thought as I sat attempting to read a book to fight back the overwhelming emotions that drowned out the words on the pages like an overflowing riverbank. I slowly lifted my eyes from the book, closed the pages, and made my way to stare in the face the person who had the nerve to say such hurtful and demoralizing things. It wasn’t a long walk. In fact it only took a matter of 10 steps to leave my bed and travel to the bathroom where my assailant found refuge. I was speechless. I was livid. I was shocked.
When I finally arrived in the bathroom, I stood in front of the sink, leaned forward, rested the weight of my body on my hands with slumped shoulders, and dropped my chin to my chest. The weight of the world was on me and at that moment I barely had the strength to hold up my 170 pound frame. Using one hand to turn on the cold water, hoping that a splash would take away the sting of the hurtful words, I shifted my weight to my legs and cupped my fingers together to gather the water to soak my face. As the water touched my skin, I could feel the rejuvenating power restoring hope and bringing me confidence. Shocked at the sense of freedom a momentary submersion of my facial features released, I slowly raised my head and eyes to look at the individual who threw insults like pitches during a Major League Baseball game.
The Face of Doubt
It took me a moment to understand what I was looking at. It was not what I expected. It was not who I expected. Instead it was the last person I imagined would say such hurtful things about me. It was me.
As I stood, looking at my shocked and confused face in the mirror, I wondered why is the heart and mind so inherently negative. You see there wasn’t another person in the house. There I was seeking peace in a book and my mind starting attacking me with doubt. Instead of building myself up, I was tearing myself down.
Why? Continue reading “Overcoming Overwhelming Doubt” »
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might has well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” -JK Rowling
For years I lived in terror of making a mistake. I’m not talking about a quick jump scare where you cover the people in the row behind you with your large bag of popcorn at the theatre. I’m talking about a constant, what is that noise can’t sleep type of terror that always is overshadowing everything that you do. This terror of failure made me overly cautious and risk adverse. I often imagined myself as the handsome (self proclaimed) cover model for Cautious Living magazine dressed in a three piece protective bubble suit (patent pending).
If there was risk involved, I didn’t want anything to do with it. If there wasn’t a clear outcome, I didn’t want to try it. If there was a minuscule possibility for a challenge, I would avoid it like you should elude eating spicy food if you have irritable bowel syndrome. As you can imagine, my life was very predictable. I was a creature of habit, and my habit was not to do anything where I could mess up.
Avoiding Failure Is Easy
For a long time, everything was perfect. My routine was flawless, my patterns coordinated, and my responses robotic. My behavior became so repetitious and obvious that my wife could guess my response to any situation just based on the circumstances that may be present. I didn’t like trying anything new. It made me uncomfortable. I never wanted to visit a place I had never been, talk to people I didn’t already know, or play a game where I know I couldn’t win. (Ian destroyed me at NBA 2k so many times that I gave up all sports related video games. “I don’t know what happened to the game buddy, it just turned off by itself. What did you say? Why am I holding the power button?” )
At work, I did my job the same way. I addressed client questions with the same energy and a repetitive tone. I thought that was what life was all about. I viewed it as a stretched out existence of doing the same thing over and over again and then you get to die. I thought it was created to be a long drawn out test of your patience to be grateful with what you have and never strive for anything different. At least that was how I behaved. Continue reading “If You Aren’t Failing – You’re Failing” »