As we grow and develop as leaders, we’ve looked at understanding Whose we are, discerning who we are made to be, and filling our minds with the right thoughts. Even knowing all of that, I sometimes forget, and give in to feelings of being overwhelmed or putting unrealistic expectations on myself. When that happens I beat myself up. Can you relate?
My downward spiral usually starts with unrealistic expectations. If I am honest, most of the unrealistic expectations I have for myself are just in my head. For example, I typically expect that I can do things as quickly and easily as my friends without disabilities. This is rarely the case. I am at least 50–100% slower, in my mind, on many things. My wife often reminds me she and others without visible disabilities may not be as fast and together as I perceive them to be. Once I voice my unrealistic expectations , they have less “control” over me.
Overwhelmed By Life
Life rarely comes at us in small, bite-sized doses. In a perfect world, I could control project deadlines and client expectations. In fact, there are books and seminars advising how to do this. But sometimes the advice seems less doable when real life hits (a world that is not perfect).
It is true with relationships too. Visits from family members rarely happen on our schedule. Feeling overwhelmed is part of life. When I voice out loud or in writing the things that are overwhelming me, they become less daunting.
Taking It Out on Me
When I don’t deal with unrealistic expectations, or acknowledge feelings of being overwhelmed, it may lead to beating myself up emotionally. It begins a downward spiral. As I mentioned above, I take longer to do most things than I think I should. When I follow this thought pattern, I beat myself up, instead of accepting this as part of how God created me and allowing myself the time I need. In essence, I am telling God He did not create me right.
Here’s the thing. When I beat myself up, I waste the energy I could have used on the project I need to get done. But before I can proceed with the project, I have to recover from the wounds I created by beating myself up. The lesson here is beating myself up does nothing of value.
If I am not careful, beating myself up for beating myself up, can become a never-ending cycle. Because I am not perfect, and neither are you, we’re all going to slip and fall. The question then becomes–how quickly can we recover from the beating we give ourselves?
For me, recovering usually includes (at least) three parts.
1. I need to voice my feelings to someone I trust and listen to their feedback to determine if I am being realistic or not. One counselor even told me I should never do self-reflection alone. My opinion of myself can be jaded.
2. I need to identify the lie I am listening to and confess this to God.
3. I need to remind myself of God’s truth about me. I shared some about this in an earlier post.
To help me keep my focus where it needs to be, I’ve put together a list of verses that remind me God has a plan and purpose for me, and He sees me. If you’d like to receive a copy of the list, contact me at email@example.com. I’m also posting one of these verses each day on Facebook and Twitter. Soon I’ll be sending them out daily by text. If you’d like to be on that list, send your number to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.