References Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown, LMSW
During a pivotal scene in “Leap Year” a romantic comedy from 2010, the male lead turns to the female lead, and chastises her inability to “lighten up.” “It’ll all work out,” he tells her. She responds by telling him that was her father’s favorite mantra, and it often preceded events that dug her family deeper into poverty, leading to her working multiple after-school jobs to help make ends meet, and her family being evicted on Christmas Eve.
So-called “control freaks” don’t necessarily want to be this way. Living a life ruled by fear is no one’s first choice. However, it is often the result of the painful lessons that accompany misfortune.
Social work researcher Brené Brown bases much of her work on studying what enables people to pursue what she calls “wholehearted living.” In her book, “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead,” she outlines ten guideposts to using vulnerability as a means of improving how people approach life. Three of these guideposts have to do with how people approach their sense of self:
1) Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty
As uncertain as life is, it is understandable that some people put all their energy into controlling as much of it as humanly possible. But it will never keep them totally safe. No amount of safe driving in the world can keep someone who is having a heart attack from happening to rear-end you. Diligent students sometimes suffer major illnesses that force them to drop out of school. Storms occasionally drop trees on houses.
Bad things inevitably happen. Rather than trying to construct your behavior into some kind of moat that will keep out all calamity – which is futile – focus on cultivating a spirit of courage. Acknowledge that you can only do your best, that difficulty is just another part of living, and trust yourself to conquer the obstacle when you encounter it.
2) Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism
Perfectionism can be beneficial – you can only achieve greatness in an area if you constantly work at honing your skills. On the flipside, perfectionism often keeps you from appreciating how skilled you’ve become, because you’re constantly focused on your remaining deficiencies.
Whenever you’re tempted to get down on yourself for not living up to the rubric of “acceptable” for yourself, ask yourself the following two questions, “Would you ever allow someone to speak to a loved one this way,” and “Would you ever remain friends with someone who regularly spoke to you this way?”
You are not a machine. You are merely a human being. It’s OK to make mistakes or need a break or to not be the best at something the first time you try it.
3) Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
One of the most valuable English language idioms is, “Don’t ruin today by worrying about tomorrow.” So much of our time is spent fretting over how we can prevent troubles that might not even happen or worrying about perceived judgments from others that they’re probably not even making, because they’re likely too focused on what everyone might be saying about them.
When this happens, ask yourself why you’re so worried about this potential calamity, and whether you can actually do anything about it at present. If you can’t, accept that, and focus on what you can do. Anxiety is a wholly unproductive activity, yet we allow it to leech so much of our energy that could be put toward legitimately productive pursuits, or even just enjoying life.
Christian Counseling for Letting Go of Fear
Nobody wants to live in fear, yet many people find themselves doing just that. If you want to find a way to break away from the cycle of anxiety and obsessive control, consider getting in touch with a professional Christian counselor. They can help you understand the sources of your fear, and how to relieve them. A professional Christian counselor will use biblical principles and therapeutic techniques to help you embrace a lifestyle of peace.
“Dusk,” courtesy of Marina Caprara, FCC (CC BY 2.0); “Man in woods,” courtesy of Pezibear, Pixabay.com, CC0 Public Domain License