“Do more of what enriches your life and less of what damages it.”
Sounds like common sense right? But, in my mentoring work, I frequently encounter people who seem to be dedicated to damaging their own prospects through self-defeating behaviors.
There is an old saying: “If hitting yourself in the head with a hammer is painful, stop hitting yourself in the head with a hammer.” Of course, that’s easier to say than do. Most self-sabotaging behaviors are habits and habits are very difficult to break.
One of the reasons that habits are difficult to break is that the cost of continuing them is often hidden. Yes, there are some habits that would damage your health or put your life at risk and those are easy when it comes to estimating the cost. But most habits proscribe future possibilities and that makes them far more difficult to come to terms with. Here is an example of what I mean:
Many high school students have what I call a tactical attitude towards their own life. It’s “cool” to disparage learning and the “eggheads” who are constantly getting A’s and most of the attention from the teachers. The culture is not only anti-intellectual; it is anti-learning. Peer pressure and a lack of life experience can lead a teenager down the road that is essentially a dead end. Essentially, the potential of a life is thrown away by the role of the dice that has the same number on every face.
Later on in life, many people find their “comfort zone” and spend what is left of their life never moving beyond it. They stop growing either intellectually or emotionally or both. I call it the “completeness doctrine”. Life is over except for the repetition.
Habits are shackles that are self-applied. And, once applied, they are maintained assiduously. In a very meaningful way, we are jailers who keep ourselves in a prison of our own construction. We rob ourselves of the future because, if we did not, the entire exercise of constructing and maintaining the prison would be, completely senseless.
But then there are the few. Maybe they’ve read something that I’ve written or talked to somebody that I’ve helps to find a way. Or perhaps it was just an Internet search. But, no matter the mechanism, they are searching out help – a guide to help them leave the rut which their life is become. And when they do find me, most are surprised at how positive the message is.
“Yes, you can do this. It is not rocket science and millions have done it before you. You can unlock the potential of your life and live one that is more fulfilling. It’s simply a matter of putting one foot in front of the other consistently until you have left the habits behind and stopped self-sabotaging your own life.”
This is the passage to what I call the “summer of your life”. But unlike utopias, it’s a real place where you can live the life that has been there for you all along. And the truth is that you can do this. All you need is the resolve to change and a little help from an experienced guide. The moment you overcome the habit of inertia – the life killer – you take the first step along that path – a path which will allow you to claim your life and open all the possibilities that the future holds for you.
So what are you waiting for. Put down the hammer and begin living your life as it can be – and, as it should be.
© Earl R. Smith II, PhD