The Habits that Kill Us

LeapingHabit keeps us exactly where we are and imagination frees us. But for all of our adult lives, we form more and more habits and routines and close our imaginations to the endless possibilities of our existence.

Habits simplify our lives and allow us to travel through this world unconsciously. So we take the same route to work everyday, we watch the same movies, and wear the same clothes. But those are meaningless, harmless habits. There are far more dangerous habits.

The most talked about habit that kills people is smoking. But in reality, the habits that confine us to a self-imposed prison, when we could have achieved so much more, kill us much more effectively—they are the habits that kill us inside, while we remain alive.

Negative beliefs are the habits that imprison us. Perpetuating beliefs that we are not capable of something because that is what we have been taught and have come to know.

As a young man, I had social anxiety disorder and the thoughts of meeting new people or making a speech filled me with terror. And I allowed that terror to imprison me for years. Then I met the greatest boss I ever had and he would never listen to my protests that I couldn’t do something. He would simply say, “Yes, you can.”

And it’s because he wouldn’t accept my excuses that I found myself making a speech to 900 people in the banqueting hall of the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York. I couldn’t sleep for days before and I couldn’t eat. But as I listened to the applause at the end of my thirty-minute speech, I experienced the greatest high of my professional life.

Yes, you can.

Innocence unbounds our imaginations. That’s why we should protect the innocence of children for as long as we can. But as we grow into adults, so we are steadily stripped of our innocence and our imaginations begin to form limits. As we satisfy ourselves with the comfort of routine, we expertly develop the habits of our beliefs.

And as the years go by, we allow those habits to kill us.

We all need someone in our lives who tells us that we can rather than we cannot. Someone to remind us that we are repeating the negative behaviors of our past. Someone to believe in the possibilities of our imaginations.

Even if that person is you.

I’m Living in a Box

Window BoxesIt’s no fun living in a box, but we all do.

We imprison ourselves in the box that people think we should be in, eventually believing that it is where we belong. And the box has labels on it: mother, sister, executive, homemaker. Other labels are far more destructive: loser, failure, stupid, boring. And when we try to be something that is not labeled on the box, people remind us of where we belong.

When it says on the box that you don’t make decisions, someone else runs your life. When it says on the box that you are not creative, no one listens to your ideas. When it says on the box that you are a failure, no one expects you to succeed at something new.

Others doubt what it is that we are trying to become because it’s not on the label. So, we begin to doubt ourselves—perhaps before we even start to do something new. People enjoy reminding us what the label says, “Why are you doing that? It’s not who you are.”

As we go through life, we shut the lid down tighter, we make the box smaller, we often reduce things to a single label­—and that’s where we stay until the end. Every aspect of who we are sits within the box. But outside, there is a world of ambition, hope and joy.

When I tell people that I have written a book, some people smirk. I can see from the look in their eyes that they are thinking, “You are not a writer. That’s not who you are. No one will read it.”

And for the longest time, I listened to my inner critic and that internal voice was fueled by those smirks. But if I didn’t write that book, I knew that the label on the box would read, “Wasted Life.”

So I started writing and I silenced my inner critic. I posted my writing here and on Facebook and I waited. When people first started to “Like” my Facebook page and my blog and comment on my writing, I was frankly amazed. They didn’t know what the label said on the box I was in. I was encouraged to continue and more and more people found my page and told me to keep writing.

Today, I received my 100,000th Like on my Facebook page—more Likes than many best-selling authors. And on July 1st, my book will be published.

I’m changing the label on the box. Forever.

Don’t let someone tell you what or who you are. Don’t accept that you live in a box. And don’t let others keep you in there. Make a start. Do something today that’s not on the label.

Buried Alive

ImageIt may be an ironic thing to say, but it is only with the passing of time that we finally see how much of it we have wasted. Most of us are buried alive in a prison of our own making, believing that we do not have the courage, the strength, the ability to be something different. To live in control.  To have focus, energy, clarity and time for ourselves.

Time is more valuable than money but we rarely see each and every moment in our lives as precious. Time is a gift that is gone as soon as it arrives.

In my early twenties, I was terrified of forming lasting relationships. I was afraid that I would get hurt through rejection, abandonment or betrayal. And as I developed my first long-term relationship, I believed profoundly that I did not have the strength to survive in this world on my own.

It was the perfect trap.

As that relationship developed, it became a hideous disfigurement of what love and friendship should be. The person on the other side of that relationship worked out early on what my inner fears were, and could therefore manipulate every shared situation for their own satisfaction. It became a living nightmare of emotional abuse.

I realized that I had traded the bullying of my childhood for the bullying of my adulthood. Worse, I knew what was happening but I was powerless to escape. Or so I thought.

Of course, there may be many other circumstances that keep you in your prison. The fear of financial ruin, the fear of losing the relationships with your children and your friends. The fear of failure, of humiliation, of starting something new from the beginning. But most of those fears are entirely unfounded, often planted by the very person and situation from which we want to escape.

It took the exposure of betrayal for me to finally muster the strength to leave. And looking back from where I sit now, I am sorry that I did not break out so much sooner.

Actually, we must never see time as wasted. Time is gone and we cannot get it back. You should only look back to help you see your way forward.

You may be in a loving, perfect relationship. But you may not be fulfilled in other ways. Your ambitions, your passions, your self-realization.

Try picturing yourself as you truly want to be. How you should be. Imagine every detail of how you feel, how you are standing, how you are dressed, where you are. Think of the people around you and how they are reacting to you, the positive things they are saying about you.

Now think about why you cannot make that picture come true. Break down every wall, every bar on the window, every lock that is keeping you imprisoned. Even small steps towards the door are better than sitting in your cell. It’s time to free yourself.

Don’t let this world bury you alive.

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