Before I began my self-improvement journey I used to think that I was in charge. I used to believe that it was my job to be in control of making sure that my family was safe, that we had a roof over our heads and food on the table, and that the money I made was enough to take care of all our needs. Boy was I mistaken!
I was the head of the household and the only person in my family getting paid for my work, so that did sort of place some responsibility on my shoulders. Notice I did not say that I was the only person working; that would not have been true, because my wife did work and more so than me, she just didn’t get paid for it. My job at least ended when I left the office, and I usually had nights and weekends free. Her job as a mother and homemaker, however, didn’t allow for such privileges. She literally worked around the clock.
Back in those days I was confusing responsibility with outcome, and in my mind there seemed to be no distinction between the two, especially when it came to providing for my family. You see, I believed that if I was not able to provide for my family, if I wasn’t able to take care of our needs, that would mean that I was a failure.
Back in those days I had a job that paid okay; not good but okay. Back then not only did I believe that this was probably the best I could do with my knowledge and experience, I also believed that there was no other job out there that would provide the flexibility I needed to be able to take care of my family. The job provided a certain level of safety for me and my family, so even though I knew I wasn’t getting paid very well, I felt it necessary for me to stay in that job in order to remain in control of my family situation.
I also believed that I had to watch our expenses like a hawk in order to make sure we had enough money for rent, food, and other necessities, so I would often worry and stress greatly about our finances. Even when there was enough money to cover our need, I used to worry that we would overspend or that something would happen that would put us in the negative; after all, we were barely making it every month. So I had to be vigilant and watchful of our expenses in order to remain in control of our finances.
These were just two of the many ways I worried and stressed for many years (and caused those around me to worry and stress) because I believed that I had control, and that it was my job to have control. Once I began my self-improvement journey, however, I soon discovered that much of my worry and stress and my excessive need to have control was founded in fear. Fear of becoming a failure; fear of not having enough; fear of not being enough.
My mentality was, “It is my job to ensure that my family is safe.” But I could never be with them 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week. I was at work or otherwise occupied in some task for many hours, and not with them, not watching over them, not protecting them, so who was in control during that time? Not me.
My mentality was, “It is my job to ensure that our needs are provided for, because if I don’t do it, who will?” But my health and my life were not guaranteed; I could have easily dropped dead or fallen ill at any point in time; who would have provided for our needs then? Who would have been in control then? Not me.
With a little analysis, my illusion of control was equally shattered in all other areas of my life in which I believed I had control. I realized then that I wasn’t in control, and that the control I seemed to have was no more than an illusion created by me and the expectations I imposed on myself. The reality was that my only job was to ensure that I did my best, and then the outcome would be taken care of just as it always was. My responsibility is not, and has never been, the outcome. My responsibility has always and only been my effort. And this effort was not limited to me working hard at my job, but it included making sure that I changed and improved my thought patterns to allow me to see the resources and opportunities readily available to me.
When I realized this I felt tremendous relief. It was like having a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. The effects were almost instant. I began to see and explore other possibilities that I didn’t even know existed. I began to see life in a new light and to believe that better things were possible. My attitude and demeanor improved greatly and so did my health because I no longer carried the burden of results on my shoulders. I realized then that I no longer had to fear being enough, because my being enough was never measured by any external circumstance. In fact, being enough was a state that nothing or no one could take away.
Yes, I did get a better job, and not just one that paid better, but one that actually provided greater flexibility and better benefits for me and my family. I now make it a point to share this with whoever will listen. Whenever I hear someone speak of their worries it reminds me of the way I used to think back then. So I try to help them realize that they are enough just as they are, and that their only job is to focus on themselves putting their best effort forward. I encourage them to let go of the illusion and see and embrace the reality and the truth, because in the end, the truth will set them free.
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