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Who’s Calling the Shots In Your Life?

June 7, 2011

The answer may surprise you.

For many of us, it feels like someone else is in the driver’s seat of our lives. Our jobs. Our families. Our previous commitments that seem to have taken on lives of their own.

The feeling of having lost control of our lives has reached epidemic proportions. How many parents reel off their kid’s extra-curricular activities when you ask them what they’re doing this weekend? They spend hours on, or traveling to, the soccer field, baseball diamond or back-to-back of birthday parties?

To succeed in business today, you’ve got to network, connect, deliver, think outside the box and beat the competition to the finish line. The truth is, there is no finish line. The “once this project is done, I can finally take time to focus on me,” is a mere illusion. To devote the necessary time to one project, you have to put other projects off. So once that project is done, you’re playing “catch up” and racing toward the next deadline.

If you really want to know who’s calling the shots in your life, the answer is YOU ARE. You’re making decisions every minute of every day that drive your activity and anxiety levels. Fear that you won’t be a good parent if you don’t allow your child to participate in all the things his or her friends are doing is behind the wheel. Or fear that if you don’t say yes to yet another project, you’ll be punished in some way.

As social beings, we want and need to feel appreciated, loved and like we’re contributing to the happiness and well-being of the people we care about – especially if you’re of the female persuasion. In the judeo-christian faiths that dominate our collective psyche, putting others first is what we’ve been taught is “the way.” But is there such a thing as taking it too far?

Disconnecting from “doing” is like trying living without a cellphone or a computer these days. Consider this. Because people can reach us everywhere we are – in the supermarket, while on vacation, while at the doctor’s office – the same level of urgency has been attached to things our parent’s generation could wait a few hours or a few days for. But today, few can stomach the thought of being left behind or left out of the action. That might be the biggest fear that drives our need to “do.” It’s a hold over based on fear of being the last kid picked for dodge ball – a powerful pivot point during many of our childhoods.

In “LIES That Limit,” I offer a “4 Step Test For Truth.”  It’s one of the LIE DETECTORS that helps when you need to get to the root cause of your actions and decisions. This test can also help you avoid overcommitting out of fear, anxiety or LIES (Labels, Illusions, Excuses and Stories) that only live in your head, but they propel you toward self-destructive over-committing and over-doing.

As you face a situation and need to respond, ask yourself: Is what I’m about to say or do:

  1. based on fear or any other negative emotion? If so, your response is not aligned with truth. It’s based on LIES and limits.
  2. going to disrespect or diminish me, or others involved? If so, it is a distortion based on LIES and limits.
  3. creating or sustaining unnecessary limitations for me or others? If so, it is a LIES-based myth.
  4. inhibiting healthy Self-expression – mine or others? If so, it is a false idea based on LIES and designed to limit.

Also keep in mind that negative responses are often driven by fear. For example at work, a response like, “I can’t do that project because I don’t have what it takes,” might really be about fear of failure. If that’s something that plagues you, I strongly recommend reading last month’s blog “Failure is the New Success: 8 Ways to Embrace Failure.”

An answer to whether your child can join another team sport, might be “yes, but we’ll have to work together to arrange transportation to and from practice and games.” Saying “yes” to that project at work doesn’t mean you have to take it all on. It’s a good opportunity to bring in others to help while you hone your delegation skills. Being creative with your solutions rather than putting yourself squarely in the middle of everything can be a win-win for you and your ego. Not to mention, it gives you the necessary defensive driving skills to do a better job behind the wheel of your life!

Uncover your unique Truth and find the joy you seek.

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