Stop Saying This Stuff
Be exactly who you are.
Live out your dreams.
Do what makes you happy.
Do what makes you feel alive.
Be who and what you were created to be.
We say these phrases basically everyday to everyone we meet. We tweet variations of them. Update our Facebook statuses to encourage our friends to live out these phrases. We Periscope our top 10 reasons why living out these statements is important. And we snapchat our newest product or business that "aims to help you do just that".
Can we just stop for a moment?
Stop saying this stuff -- unless you mean it.
You know me. You've ready enough of my posts to know that I believe in all of the above statements. But recently I've been thinking, do we honestly believe what we are saying -- what we are telling people to do. I've thought about writing this blog since March. But couldn't put fingers to keys. Until now.
I don't believe we believe what we are saying. Here's why:
The moment someone starts living out their core beliefs, their dreams, who they are. We pounce. We attack. We criticize. We interject. We opinionate. And we come to some arrogant summation that what that person is doing or being is less than the value of our perceived expectations on their lives. Or simply put, we get angry that they may not be doing what we expected them to do.
I get to coach people often. One of my key phrases that I use is, "I will not tell you what to do. I can only advise. You have to make the decision that is best for you." I know that the moment those words leave my lips, I will have to be ok with what a person does after they walk away from me. I will have to be at peace with whatever. That's hard. But if I am telling someone to live out their best core beliefs, I absolutely cannot determine what and how they do that. That's not my job. I am not the Christ.
So why do we say all of the things to encourage someone and then get upset when they do exactly what we tell them to do -- live their life?
We often place our identities on whether someone takes our advice or not. We place our sense of self worth on whether their outcome is as we predicted or not. We try to control someone by forcing them to live their best life within the context of our own. This is not right. It's not fair. It's not just.
If we are going to make statements like, "I want you to live out your dreams" or "be who you want to be", then we must give people the adequate and affirming space for them to do so. Love them through their journey and their process. And know that if they are doing it right, that is, if they are trying to live out who they want to be, it will be messy and hard and mistakes will happen. They'll flip flop often. Piss you off once or twice. Smile. Cry. Laugh. Move. Stay. Whatever. And our response to all of it should be this:
Be steady. If you have the incredible pleasure or honored spot in someone's life to be a friend or mentor or coach or guide, your response is to remain steady as they ride the waves of what you inevitably spoke into their heart in the first place -- "You are who you are and you should live that out."
So shoutout to those taking our advice. Do you. Be you. And we'll be here cheering you on, running beside you or spectating from the sidelines. Either way, you have permission to be you.