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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Afraid To Fail

Note: So far I found five excuses not to write this and it's not even the first line.

Change

Why is it so hard? Why do we resist it so? What about change terrifies our lizard brain so much that we seek to destroy ourselves just to not try?

Why are we so afraid to fail?

Do we feel unprepared?

I talked about quitting smoking a decade before finally finding a real reason. A reason strong enough to override my irrational belief I would never quit. I had to find a fear more ferocious than the pain of quitting to take my first real step.

Before, I was pacing without real direction. I had to Dig down deep to find determination to travel the painful road between where I was and where my goal lied.

Backstory

My dad died when I was two. I never knew him on a conscious level. Later in life, my step dad died due to cancer from smoking. I watched him wither away at the hospital.

I watched as my 9 mo old son look at me with a sad curiosity as I lit up near him because I just had to have a hit of nicotine.

I had to quit.

But I just couldn't do it. I knew what could happen, but I wouldn't take the step.

I felt unprepared.

  • I didn't know how to quit.
  • I didnt have all my ducks in a row.
  • I didn't have contingency plans for when i had my next nicotine fit.
  • But I didnt want to leave my kids without a father...

I didnt know how, but i realized I needed to figure out something. I had to take action and figure it out along the way. This was a train headed right at me, left or right wasn't important, just the fact I had to move.

A Step

So I took a step. I lasted 3 hours without a cigarette that day. I told myself as I inhaled the nicotine from that next cigarette, I lost. I'd never quit. I'd never figure it out.

But I had to.

I tried patches, gums, e-cigs. Nothing worked. I was such a failure. But it wasn't just about me anymore. It was about my family. I had to try again.

But this particular night, I met with a burly guy named Tommy in a garage across the railroad tracks. I shared my story like an addict, desperate for another drag but more desperate finally for a cure.

At the end of our talk, he pitched a vape pen in my direction. Sold. This vape pen would save me from myself! Not even half way home I lit another cigarette.

I am the worst.

After 3 more days of trying to quit smoking and failing, I ran out of cigarettes. I immediately wanted to buy another pack!

What happens if I had a stressful day? I would need a smoke. If I didn't have one, who know what would happen. I'd lose it on someone! I need it to stabilize me. It was an emotional net.

No Net

I needed to learn to survive without the net.

It was hard, but not as hard as I feared. I got stressed but I didn't melt down on anyone. I struggled, but I overcame.

Sure, the vape pen helped in the beginning. It helped me transition this 'undefeatable' habit into another one. But it the end, it wasn't the vape pen which had the power.

It was me.

Surviving The Fall

It's been 2 years and 6 months since I quit. And yes, I've had a few cigarettes since I quit. They make me sick to my stomach. I put them out before I get halfway through them.

And you know, I used to beat myself up for having a smoke... But narratives only serves a purpose when it serves a purpose.

I don't have an emotional attachment to them. I'm not addicted. Heck, I don't even enjoy them the few times I tried.

Realizing this helped me out in other aspects. Just last week, I had a donut and got pissed off at myself for eating it. It's good to remind yourself it's bad for you but punishing yourself for eating it is worse that eating it.

Refocusing

Instead I found to remember how infrequent I have that urge. 90% of the time I'm happy saying no to the donut. 90% of the time I'm happy saying no to the cigarette.

That's flipping amazing!

That's an A in life!

What things in your life do you beat yourself up for which you actually doing a stellar job on? Maybe you should take a minute to think about that.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Helpful Hypocrisy

Many times I fail on the advice I give. Of course, I'm not perfect. I know I'm a work in progress too.

But many times when I fail on my own advice, I struggle with the feeling of failure. Or rather I struggle with the feeling of the fear of failure. There's a difference.

Even though I know failure isn't the opposite of success, it's a prerequisite to success. Even though I know progress is the true benchmark of success. I still fall into the trap from time to time.

Then instead of remembering the 9 time I overcame, I fixate on the 1 time I stumble. Have you even found yourself in the same scenario? Have you ever fixated on the failures?

Look, even Michael Jordan missed shots. Even the greats in baseball bat miss 2 out of 3. We all go off our mark but if we spend time concentrating on the missed shots, we miss more by not shooting. I'm not saying don't look where your shot went. I'm not saying don't recognize where you stumbled. Do that. You need the self awareness of where you head.

I'm saying stop staring it all day. Recognized what you did and turn back to your target. Fire again. Focus on your target and keep shooting. It's okay to recognize stumbles. It's great to remember what happened so you can better overcome obstacles in the future. But don't stand and stare at the faults all day long. Don't paralyze progress by fixating on failings

Stop staring at the sidewalk your stumbled on. It's paralyzing your progress. Return focus on your target. When your head turns backwards, you miss the next crack. If you aren't looking ahead, you are more likely to stumble of future cracks.

Perhaps that's what you're afraid of so you stopped moving. Perhaps the obstacle you barely overcame gave you a feeling of fear you will fail future fissures. Is it the trips in your past you focus on which slow you down? Are you so scared of repeating your mistakes, you stand still? Are you paralyzed, preventing yourself from progressing forward toward your goals. Is that what is stopping you?

Stop staring at sundered sidewalks of your past. Get your head out of your past. Stop standing still. Rotate your head back toward your goal and start focusing on the remaining path. Use the knowledge of the past to overcome the obstacles of the future but leave the fear of failure behind. You don't need that.