[Today's episode is a blogisode - a podcast episode based on a blog post. You can feel free to listen to the episode, read the post below, or both!]
I'm having a William S. Burroughs moment, or something like that but without the psilocybin.
I am holed up in a motel in Anaheim California and I am in the midst of writing my first book in the next five hours or bust.
I just heated up some water for coffee in the microwave I just had a screamfest in the bathroom when I discovered a rather large cockroach in the bathtub.
I learned a couple of interesting things. I learned that unlike the big spiders I'm used to seeing in our tub at home, cockroaches can swim against the current of the water coming down at them from the shower head, and they can crawl back up the drain once you've wash them down. So those were two interesting tidbits I learned here in my stay.
I'm already planning out my witty and scathing review of this hotel on Booking.com which will have comments like “Yeah, that moment when you pick up the bathtub stopper and a roach jumps off the underside of it and onto the floor, causing you to bleat like a little baby lamb? Yeah, you don't want that.” BOOM! That'll show them.
But then I think, “Who's the one that booked this hotel?...Me.”
“Who's the one who decided I needed to save $150?…. Me.”
This has been one of my themes over the past year - taking personal responsibility. I have a reading I have been doing in the morning that includes the phrase: “I am the source of my own results”.
It also said something about taking action and then making corrections along the way when we need to.
Action: Book room at cheap motel.
Result: Morning cockroach battles.
Correction: Never do that again and book a hotel at the La Quinta level or above.
“I am the source of my own results.”
This is not a phrase that comes naturally to me. For most of my life, I've gotten pretty used to playing victim. Ah, good old victim mode! It's so easy and comforting in a lot of ways because it relieves you of any responsibility for what happens in your life.
You can just be like “Yeah, well of course I'm phoning it in at work. Did you see Trump's tweet this morning?” or “Hey, I can't help going off on my kids. That's just how my dad treated me.”
Now I’m a liberal-minded guy, so I'm not saying everyone should be kicked off of welfare and just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and be individually responsible for everything that happens in their lives.
I'm a white male in the United States, so no matter what kinds of issues I’ve gone through, I’ve had some privileges and opportunities that someone born black in Detroit or Kenya hasn’t had.
But I'm also not an upper class wealthy guy who's had everything handed to him on a platter.
I'm struggling. I'm still paycheck-to-paycheck. And I just so want to go to Victim Town.
I SO want to blame that large technology company that I've been in orbit of in my work life for the past 10 years for my less than satisfying career. I SO want to blame the consulting firms and agencies I've worked for for the seven times I've been let go in the past decade (yes, seven times). I SO want to blame the media and Trump for creating this giant cesspool that we call American culture.
I SO want to blame my mom for getting sick when I was 12. This is the big one. I really want to blame her for developing panic attacks and agoraphobia and never getting better as the source of everything bad that's happened to me and as my big reason for saying “Hey, look what happened! Of course I'm messed up. Of course I can't do this. I'm limited. I'm handicapped. Give me a break, huh?”
I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to say that and live my life from that space. I have for many years and the fact is, I WAS traumatized. I WAS handicapped. And maybe you were too. Maybe you had it way worse than I did. Maybe you were abused. Maybe you witnessed or experienced violence, lived in poverty, experienced racism, sexism, violence, rape, abuse. You WERE traumatized. You WERE handicapped.
But the question is: Is that the end of the story?
Is that where we want to end it?
“Yeah, my mom got sick so I got all messed up and that's about it….and then...I died. (Uhhhhhhh)."
That's not what I want. I don't think it's what you want either.
There’s a part in the Tony Robbins documentary, “I Am Not your Guru” where he's doing an intervention with a young woman. He's talking to her on a deep level and she's talking about how she blames her father for everything bad that's ever happened to her, and Tony Robbins says (and I'm paraphrasing here) “Yes blame him, but blame elegantly. Blame him for all the bad stuff that's happened, but also blame him for the strong woman you've become.”
I remember watching this and having this realization wash over me because I've done the same thing. I've blamed my mom and her illness for everything bad that's happened to me. But her illness and everything that's happened, all the struggles I've gone through, all the frustrations and trauma I faced, and all the recovery work and personal development work and addiction work and therapy and codependency work and có-counseling work – that all happened as a result of learning how to cope with my mom getting sick.
And it's not like “Woohoo! Let's put a pretty bow on a pile of crap and call it good!”
It's more just to say “Hey this is what happened, and for worse AND for better, it has completely shaped who I am as a person.”
I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that something crappy happened to you too. It's hard to get through human life without something bad happening.
At this point, in your life, there's a few different ways you could look at what's happened and where you are now but for the sake of simplicity, let's say that there are two options:
1) You feel that you've been a victim of circumstances and there's nothing you can do about it...OR:
2) You take responsibility for your life and YOU get to decide how it goes from here on out.
As tempting as that first choice is, doesn't the second choice feel so much better? So much more empowering? And yes so much scarier. It's scary to stand out there on the ledge of the unknown and say “Okay, I take responsibility for my life. Now what?”
Well, here's the good news: This isn't about sheer self will. It isn't about powering through and trying to be Atlas, carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.
It's actually about asking for help.
That's right. One of the first things you can do to take control of your life is to turn that control over by asking for help from others and from the Universe.
Call a friend. Go to a 12-step meeting. Join a personal development Facebook group.
Tell your story and ask for help. You don't have to do this alone.
So as I sit here in this not-so-great motel room and hope there are no other “friends” waiting for me in the tub this morning, I can remind myself of this I am the source of my own results.
I can take action then correct.
I can reach out for help when I need to.
I think I'll focus on taking care of myself today…and skip writing that scathing Booking.com review.
(Like this kind of post and episode? not so much? email me and let me know what you think at hellyeslife (at) gmail.com.)
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