Mayhem hit the other day.
It was mid-afternoon, I’d just returned from a burst of creativity at the coffee shop, and a romp at the gym. I was in my kitchen preparing a late lunch.
Between chopping veggies, I flipped open my laptop and clicked over to Puttylike. I got a blank screen. All it said was:
“Error establishing database connection”
Was my server down? Had I been hacked? I began running through nightmare scenarios in my mind. I imagined a covert operation by an underground band of specialists, plotting to take us down.
Then I checked my analytics. 800 people on the site in the last two minutes? Wha? And there it was, the incoming link. Oh I’d been hacked alright… LIFEHACKED! Boom.
It turns out that one of my articles had just been featured on Lifehacker, and all the traffic was crashing my server.
My roommate’s Boston terrier who had been watching this whole thing go down, must have been very confused. Moments earlier I was on the brink of meltdown, and suddenly there we were, dancing around the kitchen (she loves to dance).
I wish I could say that the feelings of bliss lasted for hours, but the truth is that I very quickly began to worry.
Knowing that thousands of new people were reading my work made me feel naked and vulnerable. Surely many of them were not multipotentialites. Would they just leave, uninterested? Or would there be some backlash? What were they thinking? I was back in Armageddon mode.
I’m sure there are people who would tell me that I’ve got limiting beliefs, yada yada, that I don’t think I deserve to be happy, otherwise I’d be able to appreciate this accomplishment. But I think that panic is a pretty natural human reaction to the loss of control, even if it’s associated with something positive.
The link between confidence and control
As human beings, we need to feel as though we have some measure of control over our lives. (We also like spontaneity. We need both.) Confidence can even be defined as a sense of certainty; knowing that you have the power to close the gap between where you are now, and where you want to be.
Having absolute trust in yourself will transform your life in every area, and is absolutely worth cultivating. The thing is, confidence is about SELF-assurance. It’s about having trust in yourself. Trying to control things that you have no control over (like other people’s reactions) on the other hand, is a recipe for disaster.
Anxiety comes from trying to control things you can’t control
When something major hits, even something positive like the opening night of your play, the release of your first novel, or quitting your day job, you will feel a loss of control. This is a new situation, and you’re biologically wired to freak out a bit.
Instead of focusing on other peoples’ reactions, or even seeking reassurance from your loved ones — instead of trying to control elements that you cannot control — go do something that makes you feel empowered and doesn’t rely on external validation.
How to regain a sense of control
Regaining a sense of control might mean getting out of the house and taking some mini-risks, working out, or going on an adventure by yourself. (I love going to the movies alone because it reminds me that I don’t need anyone else to have fun. Relationships are just an added bonus.)
So when a whirlwind — even a good one — swoops in and plummets your sense of normalcy, do find a way to regain the lost sense of control, but do it productively.
Don’t try to control that which you cannot control. Instead, take action, assert yourself, and go do something that makes you feel strong and independent.
How do you handle the lost sense of control that comes with putting your work out there?