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I received an email the other day from one of our customers. "Please help. I am desperate. My life is a mess. I have read your book, The Initiation. I think it's true what you say, but nothing is working for me."
Of course, I responded. It was more than a plea for help, it was a challenge.
So we got into some back and forth emails, questions and answers, clarifications and finally this firm suggestion from me.
"You absolutely must change your habitual way of doing things and thinking about things. Otherwise you are going to continue to get the same results.
"Philosophy, self-help books and all other educational material is ONLY GOOD IF IT IS APPLIED to the way you live your life. It does no good gathering dust on your bookshelf or even bouncing around in your head. It is the application that produces results, not the information."
"Ok. I am prepared to change. What should I do?" is what I get back from him.
So, I made a simple list of things to do every day. Maybe 1 hour's worth of extra activity. Likely less.
What I get back is amazing. First there is a list of reasons why half the things I suggest cannot be done by him. Then there are questions about why I think it necessary to do the other things on the list. He thinks that they are a waste of time. And, besides which, he certainly has no extra time in the day. He is already overworked and does not spend enough time with his wife.
Now, I already know from our previous emails what his days look like. He spends about half his evenings sitting on the couch with his wife, watching TV. So I write back and tell him his excuse about no time does not wash. He should take some of his TV time and start making his life work better. He replies that he is unwilling to give up any TV time because that is the only time he and his wife have together and he's not willing to give that up because their relationship is already in trouble.
I am tempted to quit right then and there. I mean this guy either just does not get it or he is playing me along like some fish he has hooked. Maybe he's just another emotional vampire. I've seen enough of those over the years. Maybe if I was a psychotherapist, I'd look forward to dealing with this kind of nonsense, but...
So, I write back one last time. Maybe I can shock him...
"Ok. Here is how it is for you...
"You are a prisoner. You have built the walls that hold you captive yourself. You have locked the only door and you have quite plainly told me that you have thrown away the only key...your willingness to change.
"Even if I came and forced the door open, you'd refuse to leave your safe little jail.
"So quit pretending; quit crying for help. Until you decide to break free from your self-imposed chains, no book, no bell and no candle will help you."
This is what he replies with, "I knew that you were a fake. You only pretended to know the answers."
I relate this now because I think that each of us has some of my friend in us. We are habituated to feeling, thinking and acting in certain ways. We are not always pleased with the results we end up with, but we absolutely refuse to consider that what we are and what we do produces the results we are getting. We refuse to change and we blame the world for the way things are.
This is not a new theme. It bears repeating though, because our habits come back to haunt us time and time again. We are imprisoned by our addictions, our habitual way of being.
We go to a seminar or read a book and are inspired to make a little change in attitude or thinking process. Suddenly life seems better. Then some guy cuts us off in traffic or the stock market drops 500 points or it rains on our parade and we are back to thinking and acting the same old way. And, strangely, life seems to be tough again.
All that positive thinking stuff is just BS you tell yourself and anyone who will listen. I tried it and still got @* on. Somehow it doesn't occur to us to notice that we have returned to our previous habits. The ones we had already decided to change. Like the junkie who wears long sleeves to hide the needle scars, we clothe the proof of our returned habits of non-productive thinking, feeling and acting in excuses and diversions, in blame and justification.
Fundamental change occurs only when we make the firm and irrevocable choice to change who we are and what we do. Conditional change does not work. You can't do "I'll try it out; see if it works and then decide." or "I'll take this path only until I come to a fork in the road."
Tools for transformation are like all tools. They don't work because of their pretty packages. They don't work because you own them. They don't work because somebody else says they do. They work because you use them and they work only when you use them. When you stop using them, they stop working.
We don't expect an electric drill to drill holes when it is sitting on the work bench; but somehow we expect that little change of heart or change of mind we had promised to make yesterday when we read that self-help book, to be still working today even though we have put it back on the shelf and went back to watching TV.
Your life is what you make it. It can be a mess or a masterpiece.
"There are many who find a good alibi far more attractive than an achievement. For an achievement does not settle anything permanently.
We still have to prove our worth anew each day: we have to prove that we are as good today as we were yesterday. But when we have a valid alibi for not achieving anything we are fixed, so to speak, for life.
Moreover, when we have an alibi for not writing a book, painting a picture, and so on, we have an alibi for not writing the greatest book and not painting the greatest picture.
Small wonder that the effort expended and the punishment endured in obtaining a good alibi often exceed the effort and grief requisite for the attainment of a most marked achievement."
© Leslie Fieger. All rights reserved worldwide.
Leslie is the author of The DELFIN Knowledge System Trilogy: The Initiation, The Journey and The Quest plus many more success publications. He also the co-author of The End of the World with Hugh Jeffries and Alexandra's DragonFire with his daughter Ashley. Subscribe to his free and ad-free eZine at http://www.ProsperityParadigm.com or http://www.LeslieFieger.com.
Reprinting and republishing of this article is granted only with the above credit included. Permission to reprint or republish does not waive any copyright.
Illustration by Kevin Van Aelst for The Chronicle Review - Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription)
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