Thursday, May 28, 2015

On Anxiety, Part Two: Getting it Wrong

To get you up to speed:
On Anxiety: Part One, Doubt


Peonies.  Or Cabbage.  Who knows.

To better understand this post, imagine you are in a situation where you need to make a life-altering decision.  I'm sure it won't be difficult to bring yourself back to that time and place.  Maybe you were leaving, maybe you were arriving, but you know that unsettled, in-between feeling.

I found myself in that place.  And then it became less of whether I should do this or that, I realized I should do that.  But then I questioned whether or not I've really heard from God.  What if I'm wrong?  What if I take this path and find out I should've never left?  What if I can't get back to where I started? 

For an unseen God, He is gracious enough to use the words in His Letters, or the words of a friend or a mentor.  I talked to someone about my anxieties and worries, and how hard it is for me to make this decision.

"I'm sorry, I can't tell you this won't hurt," she said.  Either way I choose, something, or someone, will get hurt.  If I leave, both parties will feel the loss of separation.  But if I stay, something inside of me will die from being stagnant.  "You just need to make this decision.  Pull the trigger.  And if you're wrong, then you just come back with humility, and say it simply, 'I was wrong.'"

I don't know what was so liberating about hearing that.  It must be my perfectionism - I get anxiety because I worry about not getting it right the first time.  But why get so caught up with getting it right?  What's so bad about getting it wrong?

I'll tell you what's wrong with getting it wrong (or at least, why our brains tell us so).  Because in the moment that we get something wrong, we can be met with criticism, judgments, a loss of reputation, a lack of trust.. do you see where this is going?  There's this fear that to get something wrong, I'll be loved a little less.

There's nothing more sore than when you feel that someone loves you a little less for getting it wrong.  The childhood of a perfectionist is drenched with these memories, needing to perform/achieve/attain/get it right - in order to be loved.  And years will teach us (if we let it) that it's okay to get it wrong, it's okay to buy the wrong ticket, our value doesn't depreciate, our worth won't change.

I realize that this isn't an easy move for anyone with anxiety.  It's a slow moving process to experience the freedom of making choices without fear of failure.  But the only solution is to make that decision.  Anxiety is often borne because we haven't decided, and haven't made a commitment to that decision.

I've learned that the Latin root of the word "decide" is caedere, to cut.  So to decide is to literally cut off the other possibilities.  When you decide what you'd like to eat or what to wear, you say, this is not an option, that is not an option, this is what I will do.  And it is the same with large, life-altering decisions - to decide is to cut off the "what ifs" and "possibilities with this plan."  To decide is to choose one thing, letting go, commit to what you have, and accept what you don't have - or accept who you are not.

And yes, sometimes the wrong choice comes with consequences.  One day we make a decision to forego eating a healthy meal at home, splurge on junk food, and we feel disgusting for 36 hours.  One day we choose that pair of shoes and realize quickly the blisters we'll feel for a week.  And one day we choose to begin something radical, or end something endearing, and we might feel pain or misunderstood sorrow.  But we become a bit wiser, we grow in our discernment.  We learn what not to do, what hurts us in the long run, and that we are not dead, in fact we are strong enough to stand up and move forward.  We know who we are, we know who we're not.

Recently, I have found out what I am not.  And I made a decision, even though it was coated with questions of whether God really did say.  I know I have to follow through with this, I can't hang on to the what ifs.  It's the what ifs that make me fearful, half-hearted, and anxious.

But it's time to commit to that decision, and be okay - even if I get it wrong.


currently reading: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
currently watching: House of Cards