Last weekend I got some disappointing news. Not BAD news. Not crushing news. Just a tiny bit of disappointing news. And so I teared up a bit. I threw myself across the bed (I find that crying it out is usually the best course of actions for unexpected tears).
But then, I couldn’t stop crying. I started to remember everything I could have done better, differently, more successfully (not just for this assignment, but for anything, ever). Soon my few little tears devolved into a torrent of blame and recrimination. It was me. If only I were better of different, the situation would have worked out differently. And not just this situation, but everything that is hard and uncomfortable in my life.
You see, I’m a big believer in responsibility. In taking action. In setting goals and working towards them. I love knowing that I can take care of myself. I love feeling powerful and strong and smart.
But sometimes, that belief shifts from action-taking to control-grasping. Instead of just doing my best, I start to believe that I can actually control the outcome, with enough action, smarts or strength. That it’s within me to set everything right…and if it’s not right, then I’ve failed.
It took me three days to realize what went on in my tearful meltdown: I was crushed because I was holding myself responsible for the entire situation, for all sides of it. I didn’t just think I should do my best…I also thought that my actions could affect everything else.
But of course I can’t.
And even though I know that, sometimes I just need to hear:
You are powerful and strong and smart.
When life sucks, it’s not because you are not enough.
It’s not because you didn’t try enough.
It’s not because you don’t know enough.
You, when work in your strength, when you follow your own path, you are then doing all you can do.
The other stuff: that’s not up to you.
Of course we know this, but still…that doubt creeps up – if you had done better, if you were better, someone else can do this better.
There’s a line, between walking in our power, following our dreams, and that place where it’s time to release what we can’t control. There’s a point where the balance tips from doing what you should, to worrying you’re not doing enough.
How do you know the difference?
It’s simple (but oh-so-hard): Do what you know to do. Do the next thing.
And then, while you’re doing it and after it’s done: let go of it.
The results, no matter how well you worked, no matter how strong and smart you are, the results are out of your hands.
This is where faith steps in. Trust.
Trust in yourself – you did your best and your best is enough.
Trust in the universe – it is loving and wants the best for you.
Trust in yourself (again) – if this doesn’t work out, you are enough to find the next thing and rock it.
What are you holding yourself responsible for that you need to release?
Tara Swiger is an author, maker, and Starship Captain.
She leads adventures in creating your business (and life) with experiments, map-making and question-asking. Join the adventure at TaraSwiger.com.