The art of living is in realizing your purpose and leveraging the opportunities presented to you. To be fully alive is to recognize and work toward manifesting the complete renaissance person you are capable of being. Yet too many people surrender or refuse to embrace the ability to live as fully as possible by succumbing to the trap of the shortfall syndrome. This insidious condition consumes your mental, and psychological energy. It prevents you from becoming the full person you are meant to be.
This key helps you recognize the danger of the shortfall syndrome, look it straight in the eye for what it is and take action to defy falling into its trap.
How to Overcome the Shortfall Syndrome Trap
Olivia and Mason are a modern renaissance couple. They both have demanding corporate careers, and they are raising three active children. To outsiders, the family appears to be successful in everything it touches. What others are unable to see, however, is the invisible sixth member of the family: the shortfall syndrome that lurks in the background, producing a subtle anxiety and stress that threaten the apparent perfection.
Olivia recently noticed that she feels rushed most of the time. She senses she is not fully present in anything she does because she must plan her next step. There are many things Olivia would like to do--play her violin, read some books, and enjoy conversations with friends and family--but she can't seem to get to them. She experiences hours of anxiety tinged with melancholy. She suppresses her guilty feelings, scolding herself, "What's wrong with you? You have the life that others only dream of!"
Unwittingly, in her pursuit of doing the right thing in every situation, and of being the perfect leader at work and the perfect mom and wife at home, Olivia has fallen into the trap of the shortfall syndrome. She has started to lose her internal compass and inner voice. The resulting deficit leaves her unable to manifest who she is capable of becoming, realize her purpose, and leverage the opportunities before her.
What is the shortfall syndrome? How does falling into its trap keep you from becoming the full person you are meant to be?
The shortfall syndrome is a deceptive and rampant disease causing multiple negative side effects and ailments that consume and drain your energy. Its hallmarks are doubt, hesitation, fear, worry, and a preoccupation with what others may think. Importantly, the most draining aspect of the shortfall syndrome is NOT what you do. It is what your mind does with what you do, and with what you don't do. Your energy is consumed by your never-ending preoccupation with what you said, and by your continuous obsession with what you wanted to say but did not.
Here are 10 symptoms of the shortfall syndrome. How many resonate with you?
- Obsessing about what you've done and said.
- Trying to please everyone.
- Becoming fixated on comparing yourself with others.
- Feeling upset about, and unhappy with, people and situations you cannot control.
- Compromising your values and diluting your integrity.
- Becoming a prisoner of your anxieties.
- Internalizing criticism that reflects your low self-worth.
- Blaming others for your failures or inadequacies.
- Suppressing your intuition and your inner voice.
- Fearing your own power.
Did you feel the energy draining out of you as you read this list? Such is the power of the shortfall syndrome! To visualize the alternative to falling into its trap, imagine cutting this internal noise by 90 percent. See yourself redirecting that energy in ways that enable you to express your talent, make your life meaningful and exercise your purpose.
Living free of the need for others' good opinion of you is a sign of psychological maturation. The power of self-worth that accompanies such maturity frees you to focus your energy on the expression of your opportunities and gifts.
How can you defy the trap of the shortfall syndrome?
Start by eliminating all the above symptoms from your life for one day. Plan this day carefully. Put the date on your calendar and prepare for it. Give yourself permission to take a break and enjoy that day free of those ten preoccupations. Surround yourself with good company. Engage only in activities that fill you with positive energy. Help someone. Be generous.
Now repeat that plan the next day. Continue it on days three and four. Make this effort a four-day adventure, free of anything that might pull you down and prevent you from being less than your true, full self. Grow from the inside out. Focus on progress, not perfection. Celebrate the small successes every day. Mentor and coach others for growth.
Expect to have a new revelation about yourself on day four. You will have been introduced to a new person by then. Enjoy!
© Aviv Shahar