I’ve spent a lot of my life living out other people’s dreams. I didn’t do it on purpose. Instead, it’s a habit I developed at an early age that got embedded very, very deeply.
Growing up, I was from the outside looking in, pretty much a perfect child.
I got straight A’s, I never got into trouble, I followed the rules and I could always be counted on to “do the right thing.”
Before you fire off a message criticizing the size of my ego, understand that I don’t hold this “perfect child” distinction in very high regard. It’s not a badge of honor, it’s a major character flaw.
Living as a “perfect child” included behaviors like:
- Being very tolerant of others’ opinions, even when they directly opposed my own.
- Submitting to the will of others and granting others the “right of way” without question.
- Being diplomatic and careful in my choice of words so as not to offend anyone or make anyone feel intimidated.
- Accepting fault as a way to avoid conflict.
- Going to extreme lengths to please others.
The list could go on, but I’ll stop it there because I’ve made my point.
I learned very early on that being “perfect” produced accolades. It also was an effective way to avoid conflict and to gain approval.
What I didn’t realize at the time, however, was that being “perfect” built an almost impenetrable prison wall preventing me from ever being truly free.
And So the Weight Gain Began
So what happens to someone who consistently suppresses his own will in favor of submitting to someone else’s will?
That someone gains weight.
You don’t gain physical pounds, instead you gain the weight of choices, actions and commitments that are not your own.
Over time, this weight grows until the majority of your focus and effort each day is invested in pursuing the desires of others. You think they are your desires, but you are wrong. You just can’t see that you are wrong because it has become your habit to ignore reality.
You think you are living your life, but in reality, you are too scared to live your life. Instead, you live what others would have for your life.
This is how I lived for a very long time.
I chose what others wanted for my life instead of developing the skill to discern and choose what I wanted for my life.
As you might imagine, this can cause a lot of damage in the life of a human being. And it is perhaps the most insidious form of self-betrayal I know.
The worst symptom of the damage, by far, was that I developed the habit of…