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Hustle vs. Align: Why Is Exhaustion Viewed as a Status Symbol?

By: Bridgette Williams Gottwald, LPC, NCC

Are you ready to leave behind a life marked by comparison, competition and exhaustion and recraft a life marked by meaning, connection and unconditional love? 

What if we all traded out the unrealistic idea of perfection for presence? What if instead of hustling so much, we focused more on aligning? We must destroy the idea that we have to be constantly working, or hustling, in order to be successful. We have to embrace the concept that rest, recovery, and reflection are essential parts of the progress towards a successful and ultimately happy life. Often, we feel tired – not because we have done too much, but because we have done too little of what sparks a light in us, and too little of what brings us true joy. Ideally, we will lead lives marked by presence and connection, and less by exhaustion and competition. In order to do this, it requires open mindedness and acceptance of change. There is nothing more stable than change, and all throughout our lives, different changes will constantly occur. We are continually adapting to different people, circumstances, and situations, and this requires great flexibility. 

Life and Locus of Control 

“I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you are not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Many of us fail to realize how much control we have over our own lives. The locus of control concept proves this. Locus of control is an individual’s belief system in regards to the causes of his or her experiences and the factors to which that person characterizes success or failure. There are two categories for the locus of control – internal and external. If you have an internal locus of control, then you typically attribute your successes to your own abilities and efforts. Thus, when you expect yourself to succeed, you’re more likely to learn and stay motivated. A person with an external locus of control believes that their success is due to luck or fate, which gives them less incentive to learn. 

I often like to ask my clients the following question: 

If you were given an entirely blank calendar, and all of the money in the world, what would you choose to do? 

I find that the answer is often extremely revealing in regards to the type of lifestyle they are living, what’s missing from it, and what they could gain from adding certain things to this lifestyle. Some clients reply to this question and say that they’d rest. They’d do absolutely nothing. They’d be left alone. Often this creates a fairly cathartic conversation, and it points out that something has gone extremely awry when our greatest wish is to be left alone. How would you answer this question, and what would help you get to that ideal lifestyle? 


According to Shauna Niequist, “the very thing that makes you you, that makes you great, that makes you different from everyone else is also the thing that unchecked, will ruin you.” Is this thing holding you back? Where are you directing your energy? Sometimes throughout life, we have to disappoint people because energy is completely limited. We have to “accept the idea of our own limitations in order to accept the idea that we’ll disappoint people.” Learning to distinguish the difference between this is what I can do; this is what I can’t do, will provide you with so much freedom. 


Doing all of these things will align us and when we are aligned, we become more peaceful. We cannot rearrange the circumstances of our lives, but we can rearrange what we are in control of. By realizing who we are on the deepest level, we learn how to better take care of ourselves and fill up our own cups – because we all know that it’s difficult to pour from an empty cup. When our own cup is full, we can more easily exude positivity onto others. Hopefully, this blog will help to provide you with some ideas and inspiration to align your day, week, month, year and life. 

If you would like to talk to a licensed therapist for mental health support, we are here for you. Get in touch with Symmetry Counseling to talk to one of our Chicago counselors today.


Joelson, R. (2017). Locus of control: How do we determine our success and failures? Psychology Today. Retrieved from:

Niequist, S. (2016). Present over perfect. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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