I am in a bit of disbelief.
I find it crazy that one can be standing in the midst of success and still feel like a failure. Often time when someone talks to us about feeling like a failure or not being good enough, we listen to their justifications. But how frequently do we break the false mirror before them and help them see the truth? The truth being that perhaps the belief that “they fall short” is just that, a belief, and not a fact.
Today I sit with a successful career and yet at times I feel like a failure for not being more diligent with ONE of my career goals. I have an incredible reputation across the hospitals I work for and the medical professionals I work along side, yet at times I feel the sting of self-doubt and hunger for the approval of those above me.
I sit with a vast pool of knowledge in different areas of rehabilitative medicine, yet there are moments when I don’t feel smart enough to argue certain points with my superiors. It is like my confidence escapes me in those moments and I just hide away with the fear of being incorrect.
I have two credentials hanging in my office and one more in the works, but I feel like I have failed for not having graduated with a higher GPA or for not having gotten into my chosen masters degree – even though I am now SO glad I didn’t get in (thank you, Jesus!).
I have been harshly criticize myself for not having the diligence to study more, to the point where it has lead me to avoid my books for several months. It is what Dr. Emerson Eggerichs calls the “Crazy Cycle” -this being a variation of it outside of marriage.
The crazy cycle is when something happens in our life that cause us to react in such a way that feeds into the outcome we are trying to avoid to begin with. For example, I don’t want to be a failure > I react by putting extra expectations on my credentials > this leads me to feel overwhelmed and like I might fail > so I avoid my textbooks looking for an excuse to justify failing > which leads me to not know as much information for the tests I take > which leads to a lower grad > which puts me behind in my school work > which could lead to me failing the course > which intensifies my fear of and reaction to failure. And my actions go around the cycle again.
When people look at what I have accomplished, they call me a success. When I look at it all, [at times] I see failure and I feel a strong impostor syndrome. And in that moment of weakness and doubt, I allow that identity of failure to seeps into other areas of my life. Suddenly I am failing in my studies, I am failing in my health, I am failing as a wife, a Christian … all stemming from one tiny area of struggle -my diligence. It is my Achilles’ heel.
This has nothing to do with comparison; it has everything to do with self expectation and a state of mind. I don’t look at others and see them as failures for not having higher educations or not having their dream job. I look at that and I see it as life, I see it as perseverance, I see it as the pursuit of their happiness. I just cannot see it in myself. And I bet you are like me in some areas of your life. The harsh criticism, the beating down, the giving up, the paralysis in taking action, the excuses … I understand it all. I also understand that it is hard to break our own false mirrors, it is hard to ignore the emotions, the disappointment, to hush the negative voice in our head, it is even hard to reach out to God and trust His words in those areas.
Then I remember the devil and his work, how his tactic is to isolate us and chip away at our identity and the pursuit of our callings, one negative thought at a time. And then I get angry because I am giving him the right to break me, I am allowing it, I am partaking in it.
If you are feeling stuck in a rut right now, I want you to think upon this:
Success is not found in our final outcomes, success is in every little step and decision we make along the way.
Right now our success is in the emotional battle no one sees, and how we choose to act in this very moment. Be an overcomer. If God hasn’t (and will never) give up on us, who then are we to dare give up on ourselves?
If there is anything I have learned through counseling and therapy it is that the way we see situations and ourselves is not often accurate, it is tainted with pain and fear from our past experiences and beliefs.
What can we do about it?
Identify the fear, acknowledge it, and don’t let it win.
Don’t let what people have negatively spoken over you win.
Don’t let the inner child that is asking for love and acceptance down. Love yourself.
Get up and take action to move away from your fears, even if you don’t fully believe in the outcome just yet, keep moving past it.
Don’t let a stupid little devil derail your drive and change your path. KEEP PUSHING.
Get through it even if your crawl to the finish line.
Grab onto God and believe in His words and promises over your life.
And talk to someone about what you are walking through, you don’t have to stay hidden and feeling alone. Let others love on you and lend you a hand.
You got this! WE got this!!