One big problem with Social & Family Obligation is that it preaches “invest in others!”.
While the spirit of this advice is laudable, it compels well-intentioned people to attempt to “invest” their time, energy & effort – their lives really – into others. Unfortunately, the common outcome eventually experienced is feelings of futility, disappointment, resentment or bitter regret from having spent their years investing in others at the expense of investing in themselves.
Why does this happen? Because people confuse contribution with investment. It is not possible to invest in another person – only yourself! E.g. When you give “help” to someone, it can be by default a wonderful contribution to their life, but it is not an investment. So consider what you generously gave as spent and have no expectation of a return on that spending. This is one reality of human nature.
In fact, the only way that helping anyone can ever truly result in any valuable return on your efforts at all is if & only if they themselves invest whatever you gave them into themselves; sadly this happens very rarely.
Bottom line: contributing to the lives of others is desirable because it is kindness, but you can really only invest in yourself. But when you take that responsibility you can expect ROI: valuable returns on that invested energy & effort. Go for it.
The Scenario: We all want “freedom”. Or think we do. But were you aware that achieving it is entirely dependent upon whether you are pushing or pulling? Read on…..
FREEDOM FROM – this desire is rooted in the types of emotions associated with: ”Don’t miss!”
Insight: As you can surmise, the DNA of FREEDOM FROM is really avoidance; you want to feel free of some negative force or set of conditions. The emotional factors in play here are primarily doubt and fear, because these are the things you are pushing away from in your quest to obtain freedom.
FREEDOM TO – this desire is rooted in the types of emotions associated with: ”Hit it out of the park!”
Insight: The DNA of FREEDOM TO is the expansive spirit of reaching ahead; you are driven by confidence and determined self-reliance to achieve. The emotional factor in play here is primarily a powerful belief in yourself as the vehicle through which you will obtain your freedom.
The Takeaway: FREEDOM FROM leads only to feelings of futility, because the harder you try to push away from the doubts & fears to which you are clinging, the tighter your grip on them – and theirs on you!
On the contrary, FREEDOM TO pulls you ever forward, and so it alone can lead to cultivating an independent spirit, the only true freedom we can experience.
As always, the choice is yours – make every effort to pick one you’ll be happy living with.
The Scenario: You’re looking to the future. You want to make sound plans. You want to feel confident that you are making the right decisions based on…..expectation or anticipation?
EXPECTATION originates from assumptions based on a sequence of logic or strategy that certain outcomes will occur. Being rational – based on facts or data – the object of EXPECTATION is usually a possible or likely sequence of events.
Insight: EXPECTATIONS are an important resource because they dynamically fit into a network of future planning; you can guide your plans via EXPECTATIONS arrived at through some method of reasoning.
ANTICIPATION originates from hope that some positive outcome will occur, or worry that some negative outcome will transpire. Being emotional – based on impressions or associations – the object of ANTICIPATION is usually a single event or scenario or circumstance.
Insight: ANTICIPATION is not very reliable for planning, insofar as you must simply wait for an outcome to transpire, evaluate whether it was positive or negative, and then respond accordingly.
The Takeaway: Since an expected outcome is a sequence of events, EXPECTATION allows you to leap-frog ahead in planning; potentially very useful. But since the sequence of events that culminate in an anticipated outcome are static and closed-ended, ANTICIPATION often proves itself an empty vessel.
The Scenario: You just don’t feel like doing something that you know you really should be doing – especially for yourself. Are you simply being lazy?
LAZINESS comes from apathy born of a deep-rooted sense of futility.
Insight: Many people who feel themselves “lazy” are in fact quite the opposite! Unfortunately they often appear lazy when they are really just insufficiently trained to challenge their doubts. It is usually nagging doubts that whatever action they could take would prove ineffectual that prevents them from taking any action. Fact is, most people are not lazy, just afraid.
AVOIDANCE comes from avoiding conflict – either internal or external.
Insight: Many people who have a tendency to avoid conflict with other people also have a tendency to avoid internal conflict. Thing is, avoiding internal conflict can often prevent you from exercising the internal muscles necessary to overcome your doubts.
The Takeaway: It is important to never label your AVOIDANCE as LAZINESS. When you find yourself being too passive, don’t waste time & energy feeling guilty with meaningless statements like “I am being LAZY….”.
Instead, try this 3-step exercise: First, admit that “I am avoiding something!”. Next, figure out “What exactly is it that I am avoiding?” I guarantee that once you’ve gained insight & clarity into the third part, “Why am I avoiding it?”, you will find yourself invigorated with an unanticipated sense of freedom & power.
So shrug off AVOIDANCE and enjoy being excellent!
The Scenario: You know you’re going to make a critical decision, but you want to know: Is my key driver here emotion or conviction? What’s the difference?
EMOTION and its outputs are ephemeral.
Insight: A decision made in or based on EMOTION has built-in escape hatches. Which means ultimately that decision has no stamina, no power, and it’s tough to ever have any real confidence in it.
CONVICTION is a potent & limitless fuel supply.
Insight: A decision based on CONVICTION is a decision based on a Principle; it may have to be “qualified” with a proviso at times to be functional, but this never operates as an escape hatch.
The Takeaway: Doesn’t every conviction originate with an emotion in the first place? Yep. The key is that as you mature, you must identify & select certain emotions, then try, test, and transform them into conviction.
How? You can start with an emotional thought, but then strip away everything unreasonable or irrelevant. Then, whatever becomes visible as an underlying Principle is the reason you feel the way you do, regardless of circumstance; it is upon this Principle that your conviction is based.
Remember: Conviction is not, and should never feel like, a ‘dead weight’; instead, it should feel like and function as fuel for excelling yourself!
The Scenario: You are in a situation where people’s emotions are running high, but it falls on your shoulders to make the right decision. So which do you rely on to guide your critical decision: LOGIC or STRATEGY?
LOGIC is based on the truth of things.
Insight: Choosing to rely on LOGIC is to follow the reasonable path of what should be, which may not in fact accurately represent the reality of your present circumstances.
STRATEGY is based on using what you have.
Insight: Choosing to rely on STRATEGY means doing your best with what actually is, regardless of any value-judgment you may feel inclined to make.
The Takeaway: If you try to apply & execute plans based on logic in an environment where no logic is present – where logic is not perceived by all concerned as relevant – your plans will fail. And don’t even bother trying to “dial back” on or “soften” your logic inputs, as doing so will only magnify the vulnerability of your position.
Remember this truth: Whereas true “reasoning” is based on rational evaluation & judgment, the fact remains that what most people commonly refer to as “reasoning” is based on emotional evaluation & judgment. Therefore, to deal with people successfully, I recommend you abandon LOGIC and rely instead on STRATEGY. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
The Scenario: Undertaking an assessment of your present life, your attention comes to rest – along with mixed feelings – upon what you’ve done to bring you this far and become what you are.
Feeling REGRET is looking back on what is done & gone, and feeling guilt or shame or self-pity.
Insight: When you choose to REGRET, you end up stuck blaming yourself for your past mistakes rather than learning from them, and then applying those lessons to your present. You are effectively turning your back on progress and opportunities.
Taking RESPONSIBILITY is looking at how you’ve come to your present circumstances, and figuring out how to apply the lessons learned.
Insight: When you choose to take RESPONSIBILITY, looking backwards is not on the menu. You’ve admitted that you alone are responsible for where you are, how you’ve gotten here, and how you’ve become what you are now. And you are willing to work with what you’ve got.
The Takeaway: Ask yourself if you would be better served by asking yourself “What can I be doing RIGHT NOW to make myself and my future BETTER?”, or by looking to the past and lamenting what could have been. When you develop within yourself an intimate understanding of the difference between RESPONSIBILITY and REGRET, you can ensure that you remain always facing forward – a place of endless possibilities.