Inside me is a monster; most of the time he slumbers peacefully and goes unnoticed. The monster can hibernate for days, weeks, even months, and then rudely be awakened in an instant! The moment the monster stirs, things begin to spin, I lose perspective and chaos ensues.
This past weekend, the monster was roused and immediately got busy creating his special brand of confusion. He set me reeling. Focusing seemed impossible. My cherished goals lay limp. Things that normally would have motivated me did not interest me.
I know I am not alone! We all have encountered the monster: Fear is his first name, but his last name can be different for each of us. In my case his name is Fear of not Mattering.
When you know your monster’s name, it is easier to recognize him when he is up to no good. When you ignore his presence, he wreaks havoc in your life and in your relationships limiting your effectiveness as a leader
In order to wrestle the monster back into the cage, I must identify and call him by name. Then I must tell myself the truth about who God created me to be. That’s when the monster is once again put to sleep, allowing my focus to return, my goals to motivate me, and life seems sweeter.
Have you mustered the courage to take on your monster? Have you identified him so you can call him by name? Here’s how:
1. Pay attention to what stirs the monster
Reflect on the crazy moments you have experienced in the past. What’s the common feeling that is present in each of those situations? What negative belief about your-self bubbles up? My overwhelming feeling is that I don’t matter: a sense of not being valuable or having significance.
You may be dealing with another monster, such as the fear of being rejected, weak, incompetent, left out, stupid, invisible, unlovable, a failure or worthless. Any time someone says something to you, or you are in a situation where this monster is awakened, things will begin to spin out of control.
2. Notice your response
Once your monster is awake and at work, it causes you to respond in ways that make your greatest fear a reality.
In my case I might shut down, pull away, speak with intensity, or say something hurtful to protect myself. These responses only push the other person further away and ensure that I will not experience the sense of mattering I desire, resulting in self-sabotage.
3. Take responsibility and turn the tide
Remember, no one can make you feel anything unless you give them permission. Send the monster packing, because once the monster has worked his magic and you are wallowing in your fear, it grows and overshadows everything. It distorts reality in a way that convinces you that everything is confirming your greatest fear. Unless you breathe, put things in perspective, and deliberately take time to dwell on truth you will remain stuck and in bondage to your fear. Your life will seem meaningless. It will prevent you from moving forward and pursuing the things that God has in mind for you to do and be.
Fight to remember how God sees you and dwell on it! Be prepared. Write the truth down. Put it in mantra form. It will be your lifesaver later. Repeat it often.
4. Be proactive
This step is not easy! The temptation will be to linger there, to blame others, even to relish the hurt. Take responsibility.
If left unmanaged, the monster will tempt you to console yourself with unhealthy habits like isolating, drinking to numb the feelings, eating too much, or consuming unhealthy foods, etc. These behaviors will ultimately lead you to the very place you feared the most!
The natural inclination is to try to be more of the opposite of your fear. That would prompt me to seek out ways to matter – a pursuit that would only confirm to me that I don’t matter as my efforts fall flat.
Instead, choose to focus on what God sees in you. There is a particular characteristic that He intended to shine through you. You can easily spot that trait in others, while the monster prevents you from seeing it in you. It’s the quality you find most appealing such as being authentic, loving, courageous, compassionate, generous, or purposeful – the possibilities are many. Consider the people who have had the greatest impact on you or left a deep impression. What quality did they embody? When you identify that quality, you will know deep down that it is God created you to be at the core.
God sees me as loving. On my own, I do not love well. It is only when I allow God to be alive and at work in my life that I can fully love the way He created me to.
When loving is my way of life, I will experience the mattering I long for. The same will be true for you. When your life matches up with God’s view of you, your deep need will be satisfied. Then the fear monster will be more likely to stay in hibernation so that your relationships can thrive and your ability to influence others will be greater.
What’s your fear monsters name? What wakes him up? How would things be different if you embraced how God sees you?
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