176. Take a chance on you, say yes.

How many times have you used the old “I want to think it over” line as a handy method of getting rid of a pesky salesperson?

How often have you used the excuse “I need to discuss this with my…” rather than make a decision regarding something you want but are unsure about spending the money right now?

If you are like most of us, these two lines are front and centre in our heads each time we are presented with information that will require us to make a decision and we don’t feel comfortable committing to the price tag attached to that decision.

If there was no cost involved we would unquestionably say yes but that nagging, uncomfortable feeling that often precedes a decision to spend money looms large inside us enabling us to call upon either of these two well rehearsed lines.

Most often when we use these lines to pave the way for our escape from an uncomfortable decision the result is exactly the same as if we had said no.

Life gets in the way and we rarely, if ever, go back and say yes once we have fled the scene in order to “think it over” and “discuss it with my…”

From personal experience I can attest to the fact I have used these lines on numerous occasions, almost as if these were automatic responses just like the way we respond with the words “I’m just looking” when a store clerk approaches us with that dreaded question, “Can I help you?”

By regularly using these two lines we run the risk of training ourselves to view these statements as our default which means we might be denying ourselves many opportunities for growth, enhanced success and personal enjoyment.

The Habit of Being Decisive provides a means of intervention which may well allow us time to conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis and evaluate the gains to be derived against the fee to be paid rather than simply making a decision based purely on cost.

In my day job I frequently make presentations to prospective clients and, consequently, am no stranger to hearing one or both of the commonly used lines we have been discussing.

I have learned to not placidly accept these but instead to encourage my potential client to make a decision or, at the very least, to make a commitment as to a date and time by which they will decide and get back to me.

My purpose in doing this is not to be a “hard sell salesperson” but rather to inspire my clients to closely examine the whole picture – not just the dollar is involved – before making a decision which may well play a very long term role in the quality of their lives.

I have learned from personal experience the value to be derived from The Habit of Being Decisive and have trained myself to never be dissuaded by a seemingly high price before assessing all the benefits to be gained by paying the fee or making the investment.

This does not imply throwing impulse control to the wind and spontaneously saying yes to every offer with scant thought given to the benefits to be derived.

On the contrary, The Habit of Being Decisive is a tool that will force us to set aside the natural biases that get in the way of good decision-making and allow us to methodically and pragmatically make decisions that are, at best, long-term interests without being deterred by short-term pain.

Often, having compared the benefits to the cost, the best choice is a “no” decision but at least when we make this decision we can do so with the full knowledge that we are not acting from the conditioned response that years and years of using those lines may have instilled within us.

And those are good decisions to live with.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

175. A habit worth fighting for.

If it’s true that the truth will set you free then The Habit of Acknowledging Your Imperfections is one we need all adopt into our lives, for freedom means being unchained and far too many of us have spent years shackled to a truth we refuse to admit to for reasons known only onto ourselves.

In discussing The Habit of Acknowledging Your Imperfections over the past two weeks I have had numerous conversations with people who shared the difficulties they had in reaching the point in their lives when they were willing to acknowledge the personal truths they had spent years hiding, ignoring or simply refuting.

“We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge,” is a platitude that cannot be repudiated and yet so many of us spend years of our lives desperately trying to change things we pretend don’t exist.

I listened as some folks shared with me the lengths to which they went to bury the truth and the façade they stepped into in order to mask their pain and bury their shame so ass to try and convince the world that had it all together

Sadly, we live in a world where appearances count, image means everything and our true worth as humans plays a second role to what we look like on the outside.

Status has become more important than value and how we present ourselves to the world is valued more highly than who we are.

To this end it is easy to understand how readily we can become trapped in the fear of being exposed for being less than what we wish to portray to the world.

The Habit of Acknowledging Your Imperfections is what we acquire when we reach that point in our lives when our future happiness becomes more important than what others think of us and even more important than our need to delude ourselves into believing that what is, isn’t.

If there is a string of common experiences shared by all those who have called to discuss what happened in their lives the moment they excepted The Habit of Acknowledging Your Imperfections as part of their reality, it is the incredible feeling of relief that accompanies the “confessions” they all experienced when finally, in some cases after years of refusal to acknowledge the truth, they elected to acknowledge their deepest, darkest secrets.

Bravery is never measured by heroic acts performed despite near-paralyzing fear, it is instead measured by the inner strength required to dig deep inside oneself and confront the very demons that have enslaved us for many years.

Interestingly, when we finally bring those truths out and hold them up to the cold, hard light of day for close examination they are not nearly as intimidating or terrifying as they had seemed to be all those years they were hiding in that dark place within us.

Of all the habits we have discussed, The Habit of Acknowledging Your Imperfections may be one of the most difficult to assume but few can ever compare to the incredible sense of victory and personal power that accompanies our adoption of this habit.

And for that reason acquiring The Habit of Acknowledging Your Imperfections is not optional.

Nor would we want it to be.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

 

174. Don’t throw it up, get it out.

Marie contacted me shortly after I posted last week’s blog on The Habit of Acknowledging Your Imperfections.

It seems our discussion took her back many years to the day she “freed myself from myself” and finally admitted to the world what she would only rarely allow herself to briefly contemplate and then only in her darkest, most private moments.

She was an out-of-control bulimic. A twenty-two year old aspiring model, Marie’s life was a daily blur of excessive eating followed by forceful purging. Her looks and appearance were her only focus and, like a truly committed narcissist, she couldn’t pass a mirror or store-window without pausing to admire, or more likely criticise, herself.

Her entire life was consumed by her fixation on her appearance and the regular purging’s were to ensure that not even a fraction of an ounce of additional weight could attach itself to her body.

And she was never satisfied. She was never quite thin enough or pretty enough and while, to the rest of the world she was a happy, vivacious rising star, her private moments were filled with frustration, despair and a gnawing realization that she was miserable.

But that was her secret, never to be shared or publicly acknowledged as she continued to face the world each day with a fixed smile and a well rehearsed script describing her happiness with her own life.

Her ego could not bear the thought of her truth becoming known to the world and the more bulimic she became, she harder she fought to conceal her misery.

And then one day her world came crashing down.

In the midst of purging she noticed blood pouring out of her mouth. Panicked, she made a frantic call to her family doctor and a few days later was in her office explaining what had happened.

It seems her doctor knew a great deal more about these matters than Marie realized and she soon found herself struggling to keep her story together without revealing the truth.

The wise doctor finally looked at her and asked a question Marie would never forget. “How long are you going to keep ruining your life by refusing to admit what you know to be true? If you won’t admit it, you will never get past it.”

And in that moment Marie realized a truth she had spent years hiding from.

And she burst into tears.

And it all came tumbling out.

The need for recognition.

The purging.

The self-loathing.

The denial.

And as her truth poured out Marie felt something she had never felt before.

A sense of catharsis. A feeling of being liberated, released from self-imposed torture.

And on that day her life changed forever.

She became a committed devotee to The Habit of Acknowledging Your Imperfections.

With the help of her doctor, a skilled counsellor and the support of loving friends and family her bulimia soon become a footnote in her personal history and, no longer obsessed with her weight and appearance, she began building a life that today includes a devoted husband of 23 years, two wonderful children, a career she loves and a life she cherishes.

None of which would have been possible had she not adopted The Habit of Acknowledging Your Imperfections.

Marie’s story is an important message for us all. The fear of our deepest, darkest secrets being exposed is enough to keep many of us living lives of despair driven by a radical misunderstanding of a fundamental truth: we are never stronger than in the moment when we acknowledge our weaknesses and ask for help.

Thanks Marie.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

173. You have to face it to fix it.

She was sitting next to her daughter, across from me and the tears were pouring down her cheeks like sheet rain.

We were celebrating her first full week of sobriety in more years than she could remember.

Her story, like so many others, was one that began decades earlier and had consumed her life, robbed her of everything she held dear, and wrought daily havoc with her soul.

She had taken her first drink at age 12 when she had stolen a couple of cans of beer from the fridge and shared them with a few girlfriends in a nearby park, all the while tittering about how adult they were.

A few days later, she “borrowed” another can and this time consumed its contents all by herself.

As time went on the consumption became more regular and, as is the most often the case, quantity increased. By the time she graduated from high school, drinking was part of her daily regimen, and, as both her parents regularly consumed excessive amounts alcohol, they noticed nothing untoward in her behaviour.

For the next several decades her habit consumed her life. She “went through three husbands and four live-in boyfriends, but in each case it was always much easier to get rid of them rather than considering or even acknowledging that alcohol might be problematic in my life.”

Her first marriage produced two children and on this day her younger daughter, now 36 years old, was nervously fumbling in her purse for a Kleenex while her mother was sharing her life story, and the dramatic events of the previous week with me.

Through all her marriages relationships, job losses, financial hardship and a court ordered removal of her children from her custody, she could never bring herself to acknowledge what everyone else knew to be true.

She was an alcoholic.

Whenever confronted with this truth by the declining number of those who cared about her she always managed to blame her misfortune on people and circumstances beyond her control. She was simply the unwitting victim of disaster, bad luck and an uncaring world.

AA was not for her, nor was rehab for any kind. Only losers went to places like that. And, after all, she was not an alcoholic but merely somebody who enjoyed an occasional drink.

Eight days earlier an event had occurred that caused all that to change.

She experienced an alcoholic seizure, passed out and bounced her head off a countertop on her way to the floor.

Fortunately, her daughter was visiting her, called 911 and an MRI at the hospital confirmed that luck had been on her side and no permanent damage had been sustained.

A kindly doctor, upon hearing her daughter’s version of her history and despite her repeated denials, pointed out to her an old truth that finally caused her to confront her reality.

As her daughter tells her tells it, he gently placed his hand over hers, stared directly into her eyes and said, “you can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge and the very moment you are willing to admit you are an alcoholic is the moment when you will be half cured of an awful disease.”

She went on to say her mother looked into his kindly eyes and burst into tears and she heard her mother say the words she had longed to hear for many years. Her mother finally acknowledged that she was an alcoholic and the doctor said he knew just the person she should talk to.

He left her bedside and returned 20 minutes later to tell her that he’d called a friend and, with her permission, that friend, who was by now on her way to the hospital, would come and talk with her.

The “friend” turned out to be a long time patient of this doctor and also a recovering alcoholic, with 27 years of sobriety to her credit.

This lady sat on the bed, held her hand and they spent the next few hours talking and crying, crying and talking.

The very next day she attended her first AA meeting and here we were one week later celebrating 168 hours of sober living.

That took place six months ago and, not without difficulty but with tremendous determination and courage, she has remained sober while at the same time working on some of the major repairs needed in her own life.

She has made The Habit of Acknowledging Your Imperfections a permanent part of her everyday life and tells anyone who cares to listen that the first step to improving any area of life is to acknowledge the cause of your problems and not waste time trying to convince yourself that they do not exist.

The Habit of Acknowledging Your Imperfections is the first necessary step to freedom and peace of mind and no hole in our soul can ever be healed until we own its cause.

This courageous lady will tell you that the last six months have been the best of her life and that her soul has never felt lighter since being unburdened and dragged down by the weight of shame and denial.

I commend her for her courage and feel confident that the last drink she took before the fall that changed her life will prove to be the last drink she ever has as she has now experienced first-hand the remarkable and liberating elation we all feel when we finally face and acknowledge what we have spent years burying.

This lady taught me a valuable lesson and I hope I have passed it on to you.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.