Ready for it? It’s your Life!
“What do you mean I need to change what isn’t working!!”
So, how’d you make out with the questions?
Last week I gave you three assignments. I’m trusting you took this at least semi-seriously–at least thought about the questions. Today, I want to propose a few things about what your answers might mean.
If you missed the article, here are the assignments again:
1) Make a list of people whose opinion you trust.
2) Answer this Question: “What do you want?”
3) Describe your perfect day.
Who do you trust?
We have heard it said,
Trust Has to be Earned
It’s odd, though, how often this is not first and foremost in our minds. Last week, I suggested that you remove from your “trust” list anyone who you put there out of obligation. Let me unpack that.
I’ll use my parents as an illustration. First, they were good parents to grow up with. However, things got interesting when I turned 17.5 and headed off to Chicago to do my B.A.
My dad immediately began to treat me as an adult– he stopped bailing me out, spoke to me ‘man-to-man,’ and was quick to let me know when he thought I was wrong.
As a result, I listened to him until he died. (Please note: I listened carefully, but did not blindly obey!)
My mom was another story. To her, I sort of remained 17.5, and she therefore treated me, until the day she died, as if I was a disobedient teenager. She continually told me what I ‘ought’ to be doing, and it was clear that her ‘suggestions’ were designed to make me over into the son she wanted, as opposed to the person I was.
As a result, I respected her as my parent, and loved her as my mom, but I did not listen to her ‘advice.’
Many are the clients who, well into their middle age, are running off to mommy and daddy. One friend calls these things “bonding experiences,” (why, oh why, would anyone want to be bound to another person???) This is especially weird when the person gives advice that has never helped.
Your take-away: Look at your list of trusted people again.
- Anybody there that you listen to because you think you have to?
- Anyone there who speaks down to you, leads with criticism, or ‘says one thing and does another’?
- Any people there that you’re trying to “fix?” I get this one a lot. “I’m going to help my husband grow up and get over himself, and then he’ll be worth listening to.” Except he never asked to be fixed, and he gives lousy advice. Hmm.
- Any people (they’re likely NOT actually on your list–but you think about them, a LOT!) that pop to mind as “obstacles?”
Often, people resent someone for something that happened years ago. They obsess and obsess about the past offense, and are so locked into the obsession that they render themselves incapable of trusting anyone else, as they punish themselves over the past, dysfunctional relationship.
If there’s one or more such people floating around in the back of your mind, consider ‘getting over it,’ by forgiving the person, (dropping your mental connection to the person) and moving on.
Now, again look at your list. If it is long, ask yourself:
a) are some of the people on my list specific experts? Years ago, someone gave me a “List of Professionals” everyone should have. I think it was 50 deep, and it contained people like an accountant, a hair stylist, a lawyer, etc. If there are people on your list who are “profession specific,” move them to a separate Professionals List.
Note: my therapist/supervisor is on both my Professionals List, and my People I ALWAYS Listen to List. For convenience sake, keep such people on BOTH lists.
b) As you look at your Trust List, there should be 5 or so people on this List! These people could be considered “Life Mentors.” By this I mean people you engage in dialog with about the meaning and direction of your life, as you discover, enact and evaluate your life purpose.
c) if your Mentor / People I ALWAYS Listen To list is over 5 or so, what are so many people doing there? Go back and evaluate.
Let’s say you have 5 siblings, and all of them are on your list. Pare it down! Pick one for this list.
My point is that having tons of people on the list means either
- that you equate your value to having tons of special ‘friends,’ or
- that you like getting a ton of opinions, so that you never have to decide.
On the other hand, if you have no one on your Trust List,
find a therapist and talk about your trust issues! You cannot do this work without a mentor (or whatever word you want to use — teacher, therapist, guide, etc.)
Question # 2: What Do you Want?
Well, this question came back to bite me this week. Many of you know that I have a tendency toward melancholy, and this has just been one of those weeks. One of my favourite clients asked me how I was doing, and I told her the truth—that I was feeling undervalued and under appreciated—my version of melancholy.
She wrote back, and asked, “What does Wayne Want?”
I took some time to think and then reply. The funny part is that, as usual, I put a lot of emphasis into my language, making sure it was totally self-responsible—that I am responsible for creating my melancholy. I am careful not to say “I feel” when I mean “I think,” etc.
So, when I re-read what I wrote, I embarrassed myself, as what I said I wanted was stuff that is out of my control. See point 3, below!
Look at your list
Look for the following flaws.
- Negatives. This is a biggie. Clients say, “I’m sick and tired of him disrespecting me.” Or, “She never takes me seriously.” Other List items might be, “I don’t want to…,” “I want to stop…”
The problem with negatives is they focus your attention on what you do not want, and you end up getting more of it. Also, it’s a way to avoid saying what you do want. Many people dread putting their wants out there, for fear of rejection.
If you have any negatives, fix them!
- Conditionals: I found my “Perfect Day” story 10 years after I wrote it. I showed it to Gloria, (my therapist) and noted that I had most of the stuff in the story. She asked me if I was happy. I said that I would be, just as soon as a couple of other things happened. She asked me if then I would be happy. I indicated I’d need more stuff.
She sighed, and said, “Cute, but stupid.”
Conditionals are anything that stand between you and a “want.” Such as, “I want good communication, and I hope my wife will learn to do it.” “I want to retire, just as soon as there is enough money.”
If you have conditionals, you are actually playing a game with yourself. By inserting conditions, (endlessly and repeatedly) you once again put yourself off, but can lie to yourself that you are actually accomplishing something.
If they’re there, fix them!
- Externals: Here’s the one I do. I have expectations of how people ought to be, and disappoint myself when that’s not how they are. In other words, I hitch my satisfaction onto the behaviour of others. I do this as I imagine how others are doing, and what they are thinking (as opposed to asking them.)
Externals: “I want a lot of people to buy my next book.” “I want people to appreciate me.”
“I want to be understood.”
You get how odd this is?
Here’s better language for them: “I want to write a book that I consider to be valuable and excellent.” “I want to appreciate myself for what I do and who I am.” “I want to recognize and value my insights.”
Notice that the fixed language is totally under one’s self-control, AND are items that could then be discussed with your “People I ALWAYS Listen to” list. Our wants that have externals attached to them are pipe dreams, and can’t be discussed and acted upon (without involving “everyone!”).
If you have them, fix them!
Now, think about your commitment level
This is a biggie.
Dar and I had an interesting experience a couple of weeks ago. We went to a Book Launch in Toronto, for a book by Joe Vitale. He’s one of the guys who were featured in the movie “The Secret,” has written a ton of best-sellers, and was kicking off another.
Back when my last book, This Endless Moment, came out, Joe had something “up” in his life and I sent him a copy. He loved it, ordered a whack to give to friends, etc. We had a few e‑mail contacts, but hadn’t met until a few weeks ago.
He introduced me to his publisher by saying, “This is Wayne Allen. I read a lot of books, and his was one of the few I value.”
Here’s the point. Sure, I would LOVE to have a best-seller book. BUT!
In the 90’s Dar and I and our friends Jim and Cathy (hey, guys!) went to a lot of M. Scott Peck’s lectures (author of The Road Less Traveled, among others. If you have not read it, do yourself a favour–click the link, order it, and enjoy!)
Scotty was on the road flogging his books, through workshops, 300 days a year! And he already had name recognition!
Do I want a best seller that bad? NO!
Look over your list of wants. See if there are items there that you want, but are not willing to pay the price to have. Everything costs!
If there are some, move them to another list– your “Some day” or “Pipe dreams” List.
Next week, we examine what you can learn from your perfect day story!