Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Forest for the Trees

Every now and again I have to remind myself that I'm not responsible for what other people think of me. I can only control myself: my actions, reactions and thoughts. How others perceive me is out of my control. I used to obsess for hours about what I might have done to offend someone or read into every small comment or sideways look, and I'm really trying not to do that anymore.

Negativity is like a downward vortex. It pulls us, against all our better judgement, into a sinkhole. My mood gets dark, like storm clouds developing over the mountains, and before I know it, I can't focus on anything but the distant worry of what others might be thinking. It's a useless exercise. This whole season of my life has been about boundaries, and understanding that not everyone needs to like me, and building up my own self-confidence.

It becomes difficult to see the forest for the trees when we get caught up in worry. Small things can become large problems, and if I will take the time to stop my negative spiral, I have a chance of reiterating why I'm doing what I'm doing. Sometimes I need to sell myself on my own intentions.

Doing what is best for us can have very painful personal consequences. I've learned that the hard way, but the only way to change is to really do things differently. There is an element of wrestling with our deepest fears, and beating what we told ourselves we could never do, and we can't expect that to be easy.

I know for sure that I don't want to give away all of my personal power anymore. I don't want to worry about what I cannot control, and I have to rein in my thoughts when they turn against me. I end up waging war against myself, instead of being kind and gentle to my wounded spirit. No one can beat me up as well as I can do it to myself, but I'm trying to stop the negative self talk. I get much further ahead when I am kind to myself.

Seeing the bigger picture matters when we are mired down in the day-to-day. There are many things I can't control, and I must surrender my need to control them. I must focus on who I am, and what I believe, and affirm my own values to myself. I have to take responsibility for who I am, and not for the way others may perceive me. And I don't have to get it right all of the time. If I make mistakes, I can say, "I'm sorry" and move on from there.

I wish relationships were simpler. I would like to write a script for some of my interactions, and cue the sappy music, and bring reconciliation and wholeness to areas that are damaged and broken. But I'm not in charge of both sides of relationship, and I must learn to open up my clenched fist and let go. That's what a lot of this growth has been about, and I don't want to lose the ground I have already gained, but that doesn't stop me from wishing it was easier to get where I am trying to go.

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