I started the Take Action Challenge at the beginning of May to inspire people to recommit to their dreams before 2007 is half-over. (It’s easy to get five months into the year and forget that you ever had goals or dreams when the year began.)
This Take-Action series has sparked several emails from readers. Here’s an excerpt of one I received last week:
I now keep hitting a BIG BRICK WALL around trying to make some key life decisions. I want to take action BUT I can’t decide on what I want to do. I feel stuck, lost and a little scared. I keep falling down on the decision making side, which leads me to inactivity (my current approach is to bury my head in the sand!!). I don’t think I know what to do. I have no idea how to reach a decision.
Okay, let’s have a show of hands…
Who among us has said this very thing – or some variety of it – to her/himself?
And – here’s the kicker – who among us has been lying when we said it?
I hope everyone’s hand stayed up. I know mine did.
Of course no one intentionally tries to lie to him/herself. What we’re actually doing is stuffing our fear, or pretending that we’re not responsible for our own lives, or avoiding the inevitable.
And if you’re scared to take any steps toward (or away from) something, or if you want to stay stuck in the minutiae of something you don’t really want so you don’t have to deal with the discomfort of what you do really want — then lying to yourself works wonders.
Lying also works wonders if you want your friends to back off. You can say, “Oh, I’m so stuck!” And your friend will say, “You poor thing. It must be awful to be so stuck!” Then you will both spend hours on the phone trying to fix your feelings. Rarely will your friend say, “You lying sack of floof! You’re not stuck! You know exactly what you want!” (If you do have a friend who says that, consider yourself lucky. This is someone who wants your growth more than she wants your adoration.)
If you are one of the few who say you don’t know what you want, you are lying to yourself. Somewhere inside of you – right below what you are willing to admit – are your desires. You simply haven’t spoken them. Dr. Robert Anthony told me, “Everyone knows what they want. They are simply afraid to admit it. Once they admit it, they have to own up to the fact that they don’t have it. They have to begin to take action to get what they want. Or they have to make excuses for not trying. Both may be uncomfortable. To stay safe, people lie.
If you are lying to yourself, the above quote will garner one of two reactions. Either you will cringe in shame and think, “Ohmigod, is it that transparent?” Or you will get defensive and go find another blog where people aren’t so mean. “That [insert expletive]! I’m not lying to myself! I’m stuck! She doesn’t know how hard it is to be this stuck!”
But here’s the thing: I do know. In fact, if you had read this quote to me at any of the times I’ve been stuck, I would’ve denied it or made more excuses. I’ve wasted hours, days and weeks making bargains with myself, looking to find the secret formula, or something to take away the fear. And really, it was about admitting what I wanted – even as the doubts and the “you can’t say that’s” took over the podium.
When you let yourself get quiet and when you actually honor yourself enough to allow yourself to have preferences and desires, then you always know what you want. You’ll hear it clearly. Maybe it will take some time to take action. But that’s okay. Just stop telling yourself you don’t know what you want.
Stop lying to yourself.
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