The Cognitive Dissonance Between “A Little Bit Never Hurt Anyone” and “the Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back”
A discussion around ways our mindset tricks us into opposing change.
How many times have you started on a path to do something great -something that you felt deep in your core was yours to do and succeed at? You start out super-positive, working hard, and gung-ho, becoming obsessed in the task. Maybe it’s your desire to launch a new startup, learn a new hobby or create healthier habits. And then, the well meaning people in your life: your friends, family, and especially your voice in your head that likes to warn you about things you are uncomfortable with — they all start telling you things like “oh, but a little bit doesn’t hurt anyone”, or “everything in moderation — you don’t want to work too hard and miss out on smelling the roses” and one of the worst for me is when they say “you’ve been working so hard — you deserve a break.”
I trust that you know what’s best for you. Do you?
I’m going to be very honest with you right now. Those people, including the one inside your head, are DISRESPECTING you. You have made a decision that aligns with who you are and who you want to become and that’s called being an adult. Although certainly well intentioned, these people are wrong. You need cheerleaders who are telling you how to achieve your goal and coaches who push you forward, not hold you back from your goals. You need to surround yourself with people who tell you things like: “It’s going to be tough to succeed at this, and you can count on me in those times.”, “I’m here to support you and motivate you to stay on your path even when you don’t feel like it because I genuinely want you to succeed.”, and my favorite: “I trust that you know what’s best for you, and if this is what you want — then I want it for you, too.”
There’s plenty of bad advice out there but the worst kind of advice a person can choose to listen to is the kind that tells them not to try so hard, not to change so much, not to violently and completely oppose bad things in their life.
I’m not saying you don’t need to take some time off or you need to eat more piece of cake. I’m saying that if you want to work all weekend to get ahead in your job — then it’s none of my business. If you don’t want to eat one more piece of cake because you have a goal that you chose for yourself — (because you’re an adult) — then I am not going to be the one who disagrees with you. I will, in fact, accept your “no thank you, I’m on a diet” with a wink and a quick retraction and no more mention of cake again because I am respectful of your boundaries.
I get it — these people CARE about you and want the BEST for you. And so you tell yourself “I can’t say NO to these people.” And you are wrong.
You’re wrong and as a result, you have unhealthy boundaries with others, and until you correct this — you’re going to always wonder why you keep failing to change yourself and become that successful person you want to be.
I’m not the first to give this kind of advice. There’s tons of people out there who’ve written books, research and articles plus hosted workshops and seminars. I adore Tony Robbins and he’s probably the best motivational thought leader alive today that I follow. Tony also gives credit to Maxwell Maltz, author of Psycho-Cybernetics — a book that’s been on my annual reading list for over a decade and because it’s helped me finally figure out where I was going wrong with my own boundaries in relationships.
It takes a long time to change. And because you have to learn to ignore all these well meaning people and unlearn these unhealthy boundaries — you need to hear this message often to remind yourself that you do have the right to say “No” to these people and to the voice in your head and respect yourself.
No one will respect you until you respect yourself enough to say no to bad advice and yes to taking action towards your goals.
The truth and the part that makes this the hardest to act on is that once you start saying “No” to people and start respecting yourself — people will walk away and not talk to you anymore.
If you respect yourself and say no to these people when they push against your boundaries — they’ll stop being your friends; they’ll threaten to disown you; they will divorce you. I’ll warn you — it won’t be easy to live through losing people you care about. You need to prepare for this if you want to succeed.
You’ll want to keep them and you will find it difficult to choose changing yourself over your desire to stay with people who make you feel comfortable. Do it anyways. I will be the first to cheer you on, offer to help coach you if I can, and remind you that you can and you will live through losing those people in your life because you decided to say yes to your dreams.
And when all those people have left — you’ll look around, and if you’ve been doing your job and taking action to make the changes in yourself you desire — I bet you’ll find yourself surrounded by people who cheer you on and coach you and they’ll have helped you become successful.
If you don’t, then you’ll stay the same person they want you to be. Forever.
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