Before The TO-DO List

The problem with me is that I’m a driven performance-based perfectionist who doesn’t have an “off” button.

You might be asking “what’s wrong with that”. And on some level, you would be correct.

It has served my career and bank account well for several decades.

But living on the edge like that for too long WILL HAVE (not might have) catastrophic health, relationship and overall well-being negative effects.

And in my case, to the extreme. Burnout is real.

I knew I was getting more and more tired over the last few years, but the doctors, cardio tests, blood work, MRIs and every other test imaginable all showed I was healthy, really healthy.

Yet I was calling in sick every month, 3-day weekends, 4-day weekends, then starting to use up vacation time… just to recover to go back to work.

I had worked those kinds of hours my whole life and I loved my career.

So what’s the big deal?

The big deal came on August 10th, 2018 when I got home from an out of town job in my typical exhausted state. I told my bosses “I needed to take some time” and they were always all too happy to accommodate. The job was done and I “earned my rest”.

However, this time I never recovered.

Pure exhaustion consumed me, and I was in bed for weeks before even getting to a doctor to start running tests.

At the 12-month mark, we decided to terminate my leave of absence and I’ve been officially unemployed (otherwise knows as entrepreneurship) and considered disabled ever since.

And I’m still not getting much better!

I’ve got some strength back, and have made huge lifestyle changes that are helping, but my mind and body are still fried.

Every day feels like I’m waking up on a Saturday morning after a 70hr work week and I desperately need rest.

But I do rest, I rest a lot… or do I?

A Needed Shift In Awareness 

The reality is, I may be bedbound 50% of my days, but the other 50% I’m working on this new coaching business, and producing content through blogs and podcasts and going to counseling and doing as much light housework or exercise my body can handle, and still serving at church, and, and, and…

The reality is, my every day is crammed with anxiety over my todo lists.

Sure, the lists may look different than they did before I got sick, but I’m still the same driven workaholic obsessed with my todo lists and I suspect that is a huge contributor to why my body and mind aren’t resetting.

I’ve got to slow down mentally before I will get the peace and rest my body has been so desperately begging for over the last many years.

But it’s not intuitive, it doesn’t come naturally.

My therapist suggested I try things that used to be fun, or other ways to unwind and disconnect.

My Reset List

  • Picked up a childhood pastime of building model airplanes
  • Took online Udemy art classes and began sketching and drawing
  • Began doing mindfulness meditation and light yoga
  • Watching Netflix shows and movies

My Reset Results

  • model airplanes are hard and I suck at it. I spend hours and get frustrated on pieces coming unglued, paint being sloppy, not being able to see the tiny pieces. I’ve spent a hundred dollars on magnifying holders, sanding kits, special paintbrushes and dammit this just isn’t as fun as I remember it to be.
  • I can’t draw! My desire is for landscapes, to recreate vacation scenes or drive to the mountains and draw the beautiful vistas. My proportions are wrong, can’t get shapes right. It’s just an abstract cartoon looking like a hot mess, and it’s not fun! So take more courses, spend 100’s on better art supplies, still not fun!
  • Ughhhhh, who can lay still for 20 minutes and not have the mind wander for 19 of them. Practice, practice practice… spend hundreds on meditation apps and Muze headband. Still can’t shut down, not fun!
  • What, there’s nothing wrong with watching every season of Lost, Grey’s Anatomy and The 100 in a month is there?

Let me say that all of those things are awesome and I highly recommend all of them.

But can you see the problem? It’s pretty darn obvious when drawn out like that…

NO MATTER WHERE YOU GO, THERE YOU ARE

Perfectionism and obsession are born many times from childhood trauma, neglect or some form of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) that writes false narratives on our soul which prevents us from being able to balance, to rest, to find peace or joy between the todo list action items.

For me, it became pretty clear through counseling

Where The Wheels Come Off The Bus

CHORES FIRST THEN PLAY

My dad grew up in the depression with 13 brothers and sisters on a farm in the midwest. As soon as a kid could walk they were put to work. It was a hard life and you worked to survive. It was a necessary mindset on many levels, and it was all my dad knew. And he passed it on to me.

I have very vivid memories as a young kid being outside pulling weeds (my most hated chore) and I would wander off chasing butterflies or something. That behavior was met with wrath. Dad was angry at life, and he took it out on me and mom. And the punishment was severe, always verbal and if it happened more than once the punishment became physical.

You simply had no time for play because there were always more chores to get done. And I can now see how that manifested in my adult life. As a field engineer fixing computers at grocery stores and gas stations, the pager was always going off. I wouldn’t each lunch or stop for the day until I was completely exhausted or all my work was done. Food and rest can wait. (Hello, self-care anyone?)

STOP CRYING OR I’LL GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO CRY ABOUT

Anyone ever experiences that one? My dad would punish me with the belt, leaving welts across my back, arms and legs and then tell me to stop crying. WFT?

But you know what, you can stop crying. It is either stuff the emotions or continue to get hit and yelled at. It’s amazing how resilient and strong-willed a kid can become for survival.

But what do you think that teaches? Emotions are bad, stuff them and for sure never talk about them or let them slip out.

Science has known for a while the physical toll high levels of stress, depression and “stuffing emotions” can have neurophysically. The mind/body connection is real.

Gee, I wonder what living like that for 50 years can do to a mind/body? Cause Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, facilitate a nervous breakdown, cause ulcers, cancer, and a host of other “unexplained” diseases?

Add to that addictions of all kinds and mental disorders. Stuffing emotions is an epidemic of global proportions, but we’ve all been trained well to not acknowledge or talk about it. Just man up, leave the past in the past.

Our bodies remember

UNSAFE, FEAR OF THE FUTURE

Another todo list nemesis. Each item on the list represents “failure if not complete”.

Again, for normal people, this can be easily navigated with a well-balanced internal compass. But for the rest of us…

We all know worrying about the future is a chronic problem with almost zero value. Our fight-or-flight part of the brain doesn’t recognize time. So thinking about a “possible” future failure feels like present time danger. And the neuro-cocktail of chemicals that flood the system when in danger (real or perceived) is another destructive life force.

For me, two of everyday fears almost always manifested.

If I upset my mom during the day she would threaten me with “wait until your father gets home”.

This was a big deal and terrifying. Dad always got home from work tired and usually short-tempered. Dealing with “that damn kid” is the last thing he wanted. And if mom went whining to him about something I did, it was a lock that I was going to get beat.

And the second scenario, it didn’t matter if mom didn’t complain about me, dad didn’t need a good reason to blow up and rage on me.

Life as a child was all about the eggshells, fear. Fear that I would do something wrong. Fear that dad might “think” I did something wrong even if I didn’t.

Even when things were great, there was no rest because it would never last. So even when having fun, it’s wasn’t fun because fun, happiness, and peace never lasts long anyway.

Talk about carrying crap beliefs into your adult life. Fear kills us from this inside far worse than any circumstances in our outside world could ever do.

NOT GOOD ENOUGH

This is another one where the todo list can become toxic.

I’ve noticed in me that every project that I take on I am miserable in the middle ground between points A and B. I want to go from 3rd-grade arithmetic to calculous overnight. I see the goal, let’s ge there already.

Necessary steps are an annoying delay to the prize. It’s a microwave mentality that creates mountains of internal discord and is the purest enemy to quality work. It simply wants the todo list done without regard to quality.

A good link to my childhood on this one was when my dad let me run the gas lawnmower around 12 years old. This was a big deal!

He even went in the house and let me do it all on my own instead of hovering over me yelling every time I missed a blade.

I was going to show him, and my inner perfectionist was born. I spent hours perfectly getting every blade, sweeping down walkways and edging around planters. This was the best the yard could ever look.

And when I proudly finished up every task, put the trashcans away, stored the lawnmower in the shed and ran into the house to get my dad’s inevitable approval over my amazing work, his response was spit out in a sarcastic tone: “I saw you went around the yard to the center and I taught you to go back and forth, you just never listen”.

And that was his only comment.

Even my perfectionism isn’t enough.

And all of these are only single examples of a few items. Amazed I survived quite honestly!

So What Is The Solution?

For one, lots of counseling!

Ok, I say that a little tongue in cheek, but the reality is we can only move forward by looking back.

We have to root out the faulty beliefs about where we fit in the world and destroy the negative thinking patterns that were created to fit within that false view of ourselves in the world.

“We can never thrive if we are too busy simply trying to survive” 

So, back to the point of this post, I have chosen to create a new kind of TODO list.

THE TO BE LIST

to-do-list1

This doesn’t mean that I have thrown out my todo lists, they are still incredibly valuable and necessary.

But, I spend time every morning committing to these foundations first before I even consider looking at my goals for the day.

THE SEVEN IMPERATIVES

1. BE IMPECCABLE WITH MY WORDS 

This is about character. What we say matters. If I say yes, then follow through. So I better make sure that I only say yes to the things that come up that I am 100% committed to following through on. I must learn to say no more often if I don’t want to feed my workaholism and perfectionism, and ultimately my guilt and shame when I ‘m forced to let people down.

2. SELF-AWARENESS OF MY STATES

I’m a huge fan of Tony Robbins’ concept of States. Although 95% of our reality exists in the subconscious layer in our primitive brain (fight-or-flight, amygdala), we still have the ability to train and strengthen our higher functioning thoughts (consciousness, pre-frontal cortex).

For some, the training began with healthy parenting early in life.

But if you experienced any kind of trauma or neglect, every minute of every day is literal survival and our fight-or-flight turns on nearly permanently. This is necessary as a young kid trying to survive, but living purely on emotional needs has killed billions of people prematurely, and it will continue to do so.

Few of us are trained at self-care, which can only take place with high levels of self-awareness.

The four primary areas I focus on every morning first thing to ensure my “States” are centered before anything else are as follows.

I do this in the form of affirmations through self-talk.

Of course, you should personalize these based upon your own beliefs and needs.

Centering Of The Four States

  • Mental – my mind is clear and sharp. I am focused and alert. My mind is stronger than my emotions and I am aware at all times what I am thinking. When I notice that I have begun ruminating, worrying or daydreaming I will gently return to what I’m focused on in the present. I am smart, creative, focused and whole. I love the way my mind works, I love my intellect and my problem-solving skills. Thank you, God for making my mind the way you have. I promise to care for my mind today.
  • Physical – my body is healthy, I’m feeling strong today. I am so grateful for this new day and new opportunities to find ways to exercise my body. I can almost feel the oxygen-rich blood pumping freely to my muscles and organs bring health and growth and new healing. I will not push my body further than it can go, I will not demand more from it than it can give, so I will remain aware of when I need a break, and when I can push. Thank you God for giving me this body, I promise to take good care of it today through nutrition, exercise, and self-love.
  • Emotional – I am feeling great, I am confident, I am safe, I am secure, I have choices, I have options, I have freedom. I choose today to embrace this day with grace and patience. I will be aware of when my mood changes and gently restore myself to exactly how I’m feeling right now, which is overwhelmingly grateful for this day and the opportunities that lay ahead for connecting with others, myself and God. Life is great and I feel great, and today I choose to thrive. No matter what I get done, it will be enough for today.
  • Spiritual – God I thank you. There is an uncountable number of people who are never born every day. But you chose me, you gave me life. You gave me a working body, mind, and soul. You kept me alive through the suffering years. You now have filled me with purpose and promises and joy. You never promised an easy life, but I know that with you I can do all things. I will lean on you today, even more than yesterday. I trust you with my life, my future, my past, and especially in my present. For today, it’s you and me. I humbly accept responsibility for the choices that I will make, and I trust that you will guide me in all my decisions. I trust that I will find not only purpose but rest in you today. Thank you, Father, you are a Good Father, you are my Abba Father and today I will be grateful for all that you have done, are doing, and the promises to come.

There are many ways to do morning priming, this is just a quick one I’m doing currently. I am also, as mentioned, a big fan of Tony Robbins. For another take on an outstanding morning priming exercise that I’ve done probably a hundred times check out Tony’s Priming Video. It’s more on the motivational success side of things, but super helpful all-around.

3. BE KIND TO MYSELF

This one should seem obvious and hardly warrant being mentioned, but you’d be amazed at the deficit much of the world has in this area.

The criticality here is that we can’t know how to be kind to ourselves until we discover how we have not been kind to ourselves. 

The easy-to-reach-low-hanging-fruit is the internal torture chamber of perfectionism, people-pleasing, workaholism, ruminating, negative beliefs and a host of other barely perceptible driving forces that keep us mentally and emotionally wired and fired beyond healthy limits.

This area of self-awareness takes a lot of practice though.

I found accountability is helpful resource here too. We must have a tribe of people around us who will notice when we are lost in our heads.

(see my post lost in the weeds for a deep-dive into this area of awareness)

STEPS TO BEING KIND TO YOURSELF

  • Not skipping meals
  • Taking regular breaks
  • Letting progress not perfection be the goal
  • Celebrating every achievement, big or small
  • Finding opportunity to laugh with others
  • Letting people do nice things for you like buying you lunch or running an errand for you or slashing your bosses tires (ok, maybe not that last one)
  • Having a cheat day – with limits! This one is dangerous for me. I use food or TV as medication and escape so I can make a whole chocolate cake and 3 fast food meals or bingeing TV an entire day my cheat. That is not self-care. My new motto is “no cheat days”… but I still give myself limited permissions here.
  • Take time to sing or dance. Getting alone might be tough, but when I put on some kickin worship music my soul soars. Do whatever works for you, but taking mini heart & soul breaks can do wonder for a mid-day reset.
  • Develop your own reset list (see mine above). When I’m in a good “State” then my reset list works great. Hobbies, meditation, yoga/stretching, go for a walk. Anything that lets you breathe in life. We can’t be serious ALL the time.

Obviously, this is another list that you should personalize. Take time thinking about the things that make you happy, bring you joy, give you a sense of connectedness to others, make you feel good to be alive. 

4. STAY PRESENT IN THE NOW

Much of what this list is already about is staying present. Rumination or stuck thoughts can rabbit trail me very easily. Being a writer I spend a lot of time in my head already so it’s hard for me to notice when I’m in the weeds again.

TRICKS TO STAYING PRESENT

  • The 2-Minute Awareness Check
    • Feel the materials and textures of items or furniture around you. Soft, rough, cold, metallic, etc…
    • Smell any smells you can notice around you or intentionally bury your nose in a flower or burn incense or candles.
    • Listen to all the separate sounds you can identify near and far. The hum of the computer or sirens outside, or the lazy coworkers gossiping down the hall (gee, ya think I’m still harboring some workplace resentments haha)
    • Look at the shapes and colors of objects around you or pick out tiny details as far as you can see outside a window.
    • Taste food or drink and pay close attention to texture, flavors, temperature
  • The Millisecond Jolt– wear a rubber band and snap it when you notice you are daydreaming or ruminating.
  • 30-second Mindfulness Breathing. I use a 5×5 box breathing.  Focus on your breathing and inhale slowly for the count of five, hold for a count of five, exhale for a count of five, and don’t inhale for a count of five. A few of those and I’m right as rain (whatever that means!?!?)

5. FOCUS ON SOLUTIONS

The benefits of this one should be pretty obvious also.

One huge breakthrough I had a few months ago was realizing how easy my career was yet relationships and other aspects of my personal life were a trainwreck.

When I sat down with intentionality to figure out why this was so, I found the answer!

In my career, failure was never even a consideration.

Maybe it was the perfectionism, but there was NEVER any fear involved or consideration of quitting.

For example, I had a huge project as an IT Manager where I was the only employee in the department (known as a One Man Show). We needed a new phone system. I knew nothing about phone systems. I did what anyone would do, I Googled “corporate phone systems”.

And the project began.

In my mind, I was going to roll out a new phone system and this was going to be awesome.

I ran into hundreds of knowledge deficits, procedural roadblocks, resource limitations, and timeline constraints.

But every step was simply “bring it” and “What’s Next”!

However, in my personal life, I’m riddled with fear, expectations, doubt, insecurity.

I’m the same exact person, but my beliefs about what I’m capable of is different.

The battle is in the mind. 

When we focus 100% of our attention on the end-game, then there are no such things as roadblocks or quitting, everything becomes a mere speedbump, barely perceptible as “the next thing to solve”.

This one is huge and staying aware of it is changing my life.

6. BE AWARE OF CHOICES

For me, this ties into my childhood trauma garbage again.

As an only child in an abusive household, my body remembers the horrifying experience of “feeling trapped”. And rightfully so.

But as adults, we have choices.

The problem is when a situation resembles those old feelings of being stuck in a situation that we didn’t have control, our primitive brain can say “oh shit, I’m stuck” and we become convinced we have no options.

Are you in a bad relationship? You’re not stuck!

Are you in a bad job? You’re not stuck!

Are you in a bad financial situation? You’re not stuck!

Do you have poor health? You are not stuck!

Believing you are stuck guarantees that you will be stuck.

If you want a deeper dive on this then make sure to check out my podcast on anxiety

We have to take ownership for our beliefs and behaviors and recognize that until we are dead there will always be some way in which we can improve or at least better endure our current situations.

And that begins with our attitudes.

Instead of saying: “I am stuck, and this is impossible.”

Say: “I feel stuck but my feelings don’t dictate reality” and “This will be hard, but it is not impossible”.

When you take ownership of your future and change your self-dialogue, your feelings will change from hopelessness to hopefulness, from dread to eager anticipation.

And when that happens, creativity and drive have the opportunity to flourish once again.

7. BE CONNECTED TO MYSELF, OTHERS AND GOD

We can’t do this life alone.

When we are “feeling” overwhelmed or stuck or struggling to get by in any area of our life, the hardest thing to do is ask for help.

I recently had a therapy session where I was describing a situation that I felt trapped in and my therapist chose the NLP route (of which I’m a huge fan!). She asked me to describe what my situation “felt” like.

I described that it felt like having my arms wrapped in a rope, around and around a dozen times and I couldn’t reach the knot no matter how hard I tried.

She offered the standard NLP solutions, “what can you do to the rope?” she asked. “Can you disintegrate it, turn it into something else, can your arms turn rubbery so you can reach the rope”.

NLP is a lot of fun for us creative types, and it’s freaky how well it works. 

But this time I couldn’t do any of that.

I replied, “no, this is like Wonder Woman’s Lasso, I am powerless to even move”.

She then asked me a question that surprisingly freaked me out and I violently reacted mentally and emotionally (my fight-or-flight triggered big time).

She asked, “can I untie the rope?” 

This one question led to changing a big part of my life. 

When she offered, in my mind’s eye I leaned over towards her in a submissive, “OK, let’s try”.

But the second I even considered letting her help to untie the ropes my mind screamed:

NO, IF YOU LET HER THEN YOU WILL NEED HER TO UNTIE ALL YOUR ROPES. YOU’VE GOT TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO UNTIE YOUR OWN ROPE OR YOU WILL BE DEPENDENT UPON HER. 

EUREKA, WE’VE STRUCK FAULTY BELIEF!!!!

It was at that moment that I realized, as a kid who was all alone and had to figure out how to survive on my own, I came to BELIEVE that people aren’t safe, nobody can help me, I must figure everything out on my own because people will leave you and if they were important to you, they will leave a huge hole.

A host of lies came pouring out, and I realized I NEVER ask for help. Asking for help is a sign of weakness and dependence. And I have suffered my whole life because of that belief.

And this plays out in every aspect of my life. Even with God.

I came to Christ nearly 9 years ago. But I am now recognizing more and more that I only give him pieces of my life that I’m ok with if he screws it up because I can take it back and fix it through my old behaviors of food or porn or other ways to “escape or medicate the feelings”.

This act of surrender and trust is huge and still really difficult for me. 

But I have found that as I begin to ask for help and trust others that my sense of connection to the world, God and even myself is growing exponentially.

Every person on the planet has their own stuff, and two can carry a load much easier than one.

We’ve got to lose the Lone Ranger mentality if we are ever going to thrive in this life.


Conclusion

I believe this is a crossroads we all face every morning. We can choose to almost maniacally pour ourselves into our todo lists and maybe make progress, but at what cost?

I now know that self-care must always be my highest priority.

When we stop taking care of the essentials of proper sleep, nutrition, mental and emotional wellness and spiritual wholeness through maintaining healthy and valuable relationships, the road ahead will likely be much shorter than we had hoped or planned.

So find ways to take care of yourself. Heed some of the warnings from my own life and grab hold of some of the suggestions and make them your own.

And don’t forget to join the conversation in the comment section below.

We all grow together when we share the insights we gain in our mutual pursuits of Life Mastery. Be encouraged, your words could change the life of someone else.

And if you saw yourself in any of this stuff, don’t hesitate to reach out for a FREE CONSULTATION.

I’m happy to spend an hour chatting with anyone, even if it doesn’t lead to a coaching relationship. Just click the link and scroll to the bottom of the page and fill out the simple form. I will get back to you usually within 24 hours.

So what do you think, ready to tackle the day?

Me too, Let’s do this!

canon podcast image 2

George Crone

Certified Life Coach & NLP Practitioner
Founder of Nikaos Strategic Coaching
Developer of The Life Mastery Project and Life Mastery Series

Copywrite © 2019 Nikaos Strategic Coaching | The Life Mastery Project

Do You Give Your Freedom Away?

freedom

Have you ever had those moments in life where you feel like God or the universe is trying to get your attention and show you something really important?

Over and over again in the last 24-hours, the same theme has been coming up.

Yesterday when it first hit I was like “that’s interesting”.

Then when it came up again this morning in a different context I thought “oh wow, what a coincedence”

And then the third example just moments ago, I literally sat down and said out loud “really??, this is that important??”

Clearly, someone or something that cares deeply about me is trying to make a point right now.

And I can’t think of a better reason to sit down at the keyboard and try to capture/express the depth of the message for others to share.

Scenario One

I’m talking to a friend yesterday, one of my closest. I know his story and he knows mine and we actually still like each other. (those in accountability relationships will get the humor in that)

He has had his share of weaknesses and struggles; childhood neglect can create emotional cavities that manifest in less-than-desirable ways later in life. And even in our best intentions, we will hurt the ones we love, and be hurt by them.

That is just life, we can learn how to minimize the damage, but few, if any, will ever be completely immune to it.

This time it was about his wife, she was triggered. He had done something that “this time” he was completely innocent but it flared up fear and anger in her.

We talked for an hour trying to assess the reality of the situation.

Yes, his past actions have helped create her insecurities, but the reality that she is responsible for her emotions and he is responsible for his is still the bottom line.

However, knowing the truth, and having our emotions follow along with that logic, are two VERY different things.

He was feeling insecure, kinda fearful. Any husband knows when his wife is upset with him there is unavoidable tension on the horizon and no way around it, you just have to step up and into it.

At one point he said, “ but I don’t have to own her emotions“.

And that was big, for both of us.

We are both very familiar with how our childhood woundings molded us into people-pleasers. We have become skilled at keeping the peace to avoid emotional conflict, it was the highest priority in our emotional world before enlightenment began to rewrite the narratives.

And we know the role codependency plays in that, the act of “feeling” responsible for other people’s emotions and making them responsible for ours.

In that one sentence, he proclaimed his freedom; he realized he was about to give his power away and he reclaimed it.

It wasn’t mean, it wasn’t selfish. He simply stated the fact that “just because my wife is upset doesn’t mean I have to be upset also”.

By him choosing to remain emotionally stable and still meet his wife where she is instead of having to somehow “make her like him again”, or “fix her”, he was then freed up to now simply love his wife instead of needing to change her state.

Sure it was a good desire, but it wasn’t necessary for his well-being.

That was true freedom example #1

Scenario Two

This morning I was awakened by a phone call; it was my old boss.

Just last week, after a year of me being on a medical leave of absence, we sat down and I signed termination papers. I had to surrender my job of 19 years. We were both saddened; but also trusting that God is manifesting new things.

So when my “ex” manager called this morning, I realized that I picked up the phone effortlessly, I was happy to see his name on caller ID.

I noted that awareness immediately because over the past year I have felt anxious, maybe even guilty, every time he called.

He was having a crisis at the office and was calling to get my opinion. I’m glad he did because what he was considering doing was a suicide run with the customer; a setup for disaster that could potentially make a bad situation much worse.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a solution for his issue, and I told him I would at the very least I would pray and we both agreed God is always faithful and this will work out, it always does.

When I hung up the phone I was at total peace… and that was unusual.

So much so that I began to journal and reflect on it.

What I realized is that even though I have been on disability for the last year and I was on an approved medical leave of absence, I “felt guilty”.

Somehow my boss represented my failure to perform, my inability to work meant I was less than a man, I was somehow useless.

But this morning when he called I had none of that experience.

I realized he was still the same person, it was only my perspective that shifted.

For the last year (probably more like my whole life) I had given my self-worth (another aspect of personal power) away to my job, my career.

Somehow my illness made me less of a person and all I could “feel” was how I was “letting them down” even though it was my illness that made me incapable of working my old job.

Throughout my entire career, I’ve always had the knowledge that “I can only do my best” but I always had the feeling like “it was never good enough”.

That’s how I got sick, my over-achieving workaholic, perfectionism mindset provided me great career success, but also drove my body and mind to the brink of exhaustion.

And a year later, I’m still trying to recover.

Again, emotions were driving my reality, not wisdom.

That was true freedom example #2

Scenario Three

And then the icing on the cake was soon after that phone call another close friend called to share an experience he just had.

He was at work yesterday and his boss and his cronies came out of an office as he was walking down their hallway. He instantly had this pang of anxiety. What are they going to say, am I in trouble, what will they say about this tomorrow?

Granted there is a lot of history that I won’t share here that makes this scene make more sense, but in a way, it’s kinda like my other friend and his wife. It is a relationship that has ups and downs, and it now generates “what is going on now” fear-based emotions.

You know, that uncomfortable space where somebody might do or say something and without knowing their motive we worry about “what are they thinking about me”.

We all say we don’t worry about what other’s think about us, but I would hazard to say that is b.s. for a vast majority of the population.

Our social survival is pinned to what other’s think of us, and our amygdala (the fight or flight response) is ALWAYS judging body language, tone of voice, and actions of others against past experiences to determine if the situation is safe or a threat.

But what he was so excited to share was the epiphany at that moment when he realized just seeing his bosses created this emotional response.

His inner dialogue went something like this:

“Why should I fear them, they are just men.

“Sure they hold the power to fire me, but so what.”

“God is bigger than my circumstances, this isn’t the only job on the planet that I’m qualified for.”

“I don’t even like this job.”

“If I ran into them at the grocery store they would mean nothing to me other than old acquaintences.”

WHY AM I CHOOSING TO GIVE MY POWER OF WELL-BEING OVER TO THEM”

At that moment, he was set free. His revelation gave him his power to choose how to feel about them and himself.

He simply needed to be respectful and do his job, and his bosses were free to have a good day or bad day and be grumpy or friendly as they choose.

They may control his time when he is on the clock but they will only control his emotional well-being to the measure of his internal dialogue and the power he places on their state.

That was true freedom example #3

From there I started to recognize just how prevalent this lack of emotional freedom is throughout my whole life.

When a police car pulls up behind me I get nervous… BUT WHY???

Well, in my teen years I was a party animal and used to drive wasted all the time (God’s mercy that I never hurt anyone) and cops were terrifying. Could my body’s emotional memory of those years still see police as a threat today?

Back then I was truly doing something wrong and should fear them, but that is not my reality today.

Wow, I realized that’s an actual description of PTSD. Past experiences creating unrealistic emotional responses to current events.

Or my son not replying to my text right away… could that mean he is in trouble or he’s upset with me?

Why would I go there… it could also mean he is just busy. (And that is all it means every single time).

When my son’s mother mentions that our son needs new tires on his truck, is she just “being a bitch that only calls me for money?” That depends upon how I “choose” to view the situation.

She’s just stating a fact and I am blessed with a son and with that comes the opportunity and obligation to help keep him safe.

If someone else doesn’t like us, does that mean we are unlikable?

If someone else didn’t think we did a “good enough job”, does that mean we didn’t give it our best and our efforts were wasted?

If someone else thinks our dreams to be an entrepreneur or to go back to school or take up sky-diving is stupid, does that mean us dreaming or desiring more is stupid?

If someone else devalues us, judges our motives, treats us poorly, says mean or unsupportive things… does that mean they know us better than we or God knows us?

We Choose to Believe What We Believe

  • I choose to believe I will or I can’t
  • I choose to believe I have options or I’m stuck
  • I choose to believe I am empowered or I’m a victim
  • I choose to believe that success simply has obstacles or life is cruel and unwinnable

Our Choices Create Our Reality

  • I choose to eat healthily or eat crap
  • I choose to risk being vulnerable with people or wall them off by wearing masks
  • I choose to go for my dreams or talk myself out of them
  • I choose to exercise or rest, save money or spend, like myself or hate myself.

Our Emotions Seek Survival Not Success

  • I can choose to be excited about the day ahead or feel burdened by it
  • I can choose to let courage propel me or fear to stop me
  • I can choose to be happy or sad
  • I can choose to be hopeful or hopeless
  • I can choose to take risks or play it safe
  • I can choose to feel alive or dead

Power is not something others bestow upon us, our true power exists in the way we value ourselves and how we interpret the circumstances of our life.

Some of my favorite ingredients for success

  1. Don’t Live Small; Have a Compelling Vision
  2. Own Your Shit; Then Strip Away Conditioning & Fear
  3. Live With Intentionality By Making Decisions and Taking Action
  4. Don’t Judge Outcomes as Good or Bad; Simply Measure Results
  5. Fall In Love With The Process

I’d say today’s message falls under #2 above, stripping away the conditioning and taking ownership for our lives.

Self-Awareness Is The Key

The committee (as I call them, the subconscious inner-workings) have agendas that do not align with change and growth and risk.

We have to become hyper-aware of the ways in which our thoughts and emotions try and trick us into submission and complacency to living “less-than” lives through an exaggerated pursuit of “safety”

We have the ability within us to create the lives we desire… but we must make the choice to believe that and to then wield our God-given power in ways that brings healing and hope to a broken world.


Join the conversation: How have you either given your power away or discovered ways to take it back?


My desire for LMP (The Life Mastery Project) is to create a fully-engaged community of overcomers who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other

Let’s Do This!

canon podcast image 2George Crone

Certified Life Coach & NLP Practitioner

Founder of Nikaos Strategic Coaching

Developer of The Life Mastery Project

Copywrite © 2019 Nikaos Strategic Coaching | The Life Mastery Project