In continuing on the theme of the downside of being responsible… often when we feel responsible for everything, we are excessively proactive. I used to have proactive as one of my key strengths on my resume. I have since decided that being reactive (waiting for something to happen before I worry about it) can have its perks!
Proactive (adj.) – controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than waiting to respond after it happens.
First, control is an illusion – ask anyone who has experienced cancer. The more we attempt to control life (remember Key #1), the more frustrated we are, and the less power we have.
“Causing something to happen rather than waiting to respond,” would be great if we were causing what we want to happen! I am all for having clients visualize a future they wish to “cause.” The issue is that, mostly, when we are proactive, we are planning contingencies against any sort of disaster that may occur. We think through all of the possible negative outcomes and proactively prevent them. Not only are we stressed, but, when we focus our energy on something, we actually do cause it to happen. When we plan against what might go wrong, it requires us to visualize the “going wrong” part, thereby inviting it in.
The other issue with being proactive, in short, is that we are not present. We are constantly in the future, trying to predict what may happen, and make sure we have put ourselves in the “right” box at the “right” time to take full advantage. Meanwhile, life is happening NOW. We miss dozens of opportunities for unexpected joy, and even gain, when we wear the future-oriented, proactive-thinking “blinders.” I request that you practice taking them off, then, relax.
What do you think? Proactivity – blessing of curse? Does it keep you from living life in the “sweet spot?”