We are addicted to our thoughts. We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking.
“I’m addicted!” she said.
“But didn’t you just tell me you’ve been clean for 15 years?” I asked.
“I have been,” she said.
“So what are you addicted to?” I asked.
“To doing what I shouldn’t be doing, even though I know better,” she said. “I’m addicted to doing it the wrong way, because it’s easier and safer, and just the way I’ve always done it. I’m addicted to letting my negativity and anger and fear get the best of me every day. And honestly, that’s just scratching the surface of it. But the scariest part of it all is that I know dozens of other people who are just like me in this regard. We’re all addicts and we don’t even acknowledge it!”
Those are lines right out of a live chat session I had this morning with a coaching client and student of ours. I’m sharing this with you (with permission) because nothing could be closer to the truth.
Almost every one of us is an addict, and what we are addicted to is…
1. Wanting and expecting everything to be easy.
All great achievements require time and work. Good things don’t come easy. And patience is the only way you can endure the grey periods.
When we want things to be easy, and expect them to be, we are inevitably disappointed. Our disappointment then motivates us to give up too soon. And the thing with giving up too soon is you never know. You never know whether you could have put in the effort and done something incredible with your life. I made changes because I was sick of not knowing. What about you?
Find the courage to do the hard things in life. The things no one else is doing. The things that frighten you. The things others can’t do for you. The things that make you question how much longer you can hold on and push forward. Because those are the things that define you. Those are the things that make the difference between existing and living – between knowing the path and walking the path – between a life of mediocrity and a life filled with happiness and success.
Yes, find the courage!
And remember, courage doesn’t always roar out load. Sometimes courage is simply the quiet voice at the end of the day whispering, “I will try again tomorrow.”
2. Shackling ourselves to what we already know.
We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it. When you stop learning you stop living a meaningful life. Life’s richness does not come from always residing within familiar and comfortable territory. It’s when you venture out away from the familiar that you grow stronger and more capable.
You must hold tightly to your core values while at the same time opening your heart and mind to new ideas, feelings and experiences. Your own perspective will become clearer when you look at things from different angles. Find ways to provide a healthy challenge to your current understanding of life, and you will discover and experience far more of life’s magic in the days ahead.
Bottom line: As long as you are breathing, you are just beginning. NOW is a new beginning. Don’t pretend like you’re stuck. You aren’t.
3. Comparing ourselves to everyone else, and then competing with them.
Let go of the foolish need to compare yourself to everyone else, and you’ll free yourself to accomplish what matters most to you. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that you don’t have to always be and do what everyone else is being and doing.
If you compete with others, you will become bitter. If you compete with a previous version of yourself, you will become better. It’s as simple as that. You are not in competition with anybody except yourself; plan to outdo your past not other people.
And keep in mind that when you’re not competing against others, you can instead work with them on a common goal. You can use your combined insights and talents to achieve what none of you can alone. Incredible personal growth and learning occurs through relationships when the competitive spirit is replaced with a collaborative one.
4. Secretly wishing for everyone’s stamp of approval.
You don’t need anyone’s affection or approval in order to be good enough in your own eyes.
Repeat that to yourself and think about it.
When someone rejects or abandons or judges you, 99% of the time it isn’t actually about you. It’s about them and their own insecurities, limitations, and needs, and you don’t have to internalize any of it.
Your worth isn’t contingent upon other people’s acceptance of you – it’s something inherent. You are alive, and therefore you matter. You’re allowed to think things and feel things. You’re allowed to assert your needs and take up space. You’re allowed to hold on to the truth that who you are is worthy. And you’re allowed to remove anyone from your life who insists on making you feel otherwise.
5. Taking things personally and dramatically.
Another driver cut you off in traffic. Your friend never texted you back. Your coworker went to lunch without you. Everyone can find a reason to be offended on a daily basis. But what caused you to be offended? You took things personally and dramatically. You made it all about YOU by assigning negative intent to these otherwise innocent actions. And you let your temper roar.
Don’t do this to yourself. Don’t pretend like everyone’s actions are about YOU. They aren’t. People’s actions are about THEM. So let it GO!
How would your life be different if you walked away from drama, gossip and unconstructive assumptions?
Let today be the day you find out.
6. Being more loving to others than we are to ourselves.
Life gets a lot easier when you are your own best friend. So don’t forget about YOU out there, and don’t be too hard on yourself either. There are plenty of others that will do both of these things for you.
There’s absolutely nothing selfish about self-care. If you don’t take good care of yourself then you can’t take good care of anyone else. Because we can’t give what we don’t have. Treat yourself right and you’ll be life-giving to others.
7. Believing we don’t have enough to give back.
You don’t have it all, but you have more than enough. Don’t be scared to share.
Generosity is what keeps the things you own from owning you. In other words, generosity isn’t just to help others, it’s also to liberate you. Which is why you cannot live abundantly until you have done something nice for someone who can never repay you. Know this and live graciously.
There is no exercise better for your heart and mind than reaching down and lifting people up.
8. Thinking and thinking, and OVER-thinking some more.
Sometimes your mind unnecessarily wrestles with events that aren’t even remotely likely. Your sore throat is life threatening. Your lost driver’s license fell into the hands of a miscreant looking to steal your identity. Negativity like this only breeds more negativity. It’s a happiness riptide. It will carry you away from the shore and, if you don’t swim away, it will pull you under.
Never over-think a dilemma. Answers come to a relaxed mind. Space allows things to fall into place. A calm attitude yields the best results.
When your fears and anxieties have you looking too deeply into things, it creates problems – it doesn’t fix them. If you think and you think and you think, you’ll think yourself right out of happiness a thousand times, and never once into it.
9. Dreaming of what could have been, or should have been.
Before you can truly LIVE today, a part of you has to die first. You have to let go and bury what could have been, how you should have responded and what you wish you would have done differently. You have to accept that you can’t change a past experience, opinions of others at that moment in time, or outcomes from their choices or yours. When you finally accept this truth, then you will finally understand the true meaning of forgiving yourself and others. From this point you will finally be present and free.
Go ahead! Let go. Forgive. Be present and free. Today.
If you’re struggling with any of these points, know that you are not alone. Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly, and live a life free of addiction. This is precisely why Angel and I wrote our book, 1,000 Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently. It’s filled with short, concise tips on how to do just that. And believe it or not, Angel and I review a lot of our own material on a regular basis too, just to center our minds on these positive principles.
The bottom line is that it’s never too late to take a step in the right direction. It’s never too late to break free and become the person you are capable of being. Addictions of all kinds CAN be beaten!
Which of the addictions above do you sometimes struggle with? What else would you add to the list? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Originally appeared in Marc and Angel Chernoff