Thursday, May 28, 2009

Zero Tolerance

If you deny yourself commitment, what can you do with your life? Harvey Fierstein
His life was in shambles. Broken. Penniless. Hopeless. "I'll do whatever it takes to change my life," he said.

"Are you willing to quit smoking?" she asked.

"No," he vehemently replied.

"Then you're not willing to do whatever it takes."

"I am, but just not that," he said. "I can't do it. Won't do it. I can't lie to you."

The stories we tell ourselves when first we practice to deceive ourselves.

Susan Scott, in Fierce Conversations writes, "I am successful only to the degree that who I am and what I am living are in alignment."

If I am unwilling to 'do whatever it takes' to be free of an addiction, then my success will be measured against who I am in my willingness and unwillingness to do all things necessary to be free of my addiction, to have what I say I want in my life.

How success manifests itself in my life came as a huge insight for me yesterday.

I had been speaking with a staff member about a client who was struggling with their addiction. I knew of an instance where they had been asked to commit to quitting smoking. "Anything but that," he had replied.

"Then you're not willing to do whatever it takes," the facilitator had responded.

"I am," he said. "Just not that." And he had gone on to explain why not.

In his permission to not do that, he gave himself permission to not do other things too, or to continue to do those things that were harming him, even though he said he wouldn't. Because in his mind he knew he'd already not committed to doing one thing, every time he lit up, his psyche was saying, 'see, it's okay. Nothing bad happened.'

And then the slide begins.

It is a game I often play with myself.

"I'll do this, but not that."

In my negotiation, I leave the door open to slipping through the crack of what I will tolerate, permit, accept.

We get what we tolerate.

In my case, I get to weasel out of losing weight because I refuse to commit to doing whatever it takes to have what I say I want.

Truth is, if I want to lose weight, then I must be willing to commit to doing the hard things I am unwilling to do.

To change my eating habits, I must be willing to let go of the habits that are undermining me. Negotiating with my habits leaves me room to maneuver out of committing 100% to my success.

Zero tolerance.

For the man who wouldn't quit smoking, when given the opportunity had he committed to doing it, he would have had to hold himself accountable to his commitment. It wasn't about quitting smoking. It was about being true to the commitments we make to ourselves.

On one level, he was being honest. He knew he wouldn't keep the commitment and refused to lie.

But on a deeper, more emotional/spiritual level, his lack of commitment was the escape hatch he needed to slide into more destructive behaviours when the going got tough.

And he did.

I do too.

Time to stand up. Time to quit denying myself commitment. Time to teach myself I can keep a commitment with myself -- and be stronger, more successful for that commitment.

Time to align who I am with what I am living.

Time to be the success I want to achieve.

The question is: Where are you letting yourself off the hook of being successful by scrimping on your commitments? Where are you slipping through the crack of what you're willing to tolerate?

2 comments:

S L M Moss said...

Thanks Louise, this is just what I needed to hear this morning.

Bless you today!
Sarah

i am storm. said...

thank you. timing is everything. i have been struggling to get back on track with going to the gym. i keep telling myself, tomorrow....but as we know tomorrow never arrives.

last night i made a promise to a friend that i would go today. i knew i needed to make a commitment to someone...i needed some accountability and i knew it would only take one day to get me back on track. today i go to the gym.

thank you for pointing out what i was doing. i was letting myself down. no more. today i commit to my my health.

be well,

storm