Dancing with the Devil 4/08

April 2008

devil

I have been driving a car that is clearly on borrowed time. There’s sand in the trunk. It’s not in a sand bag, providing weight for winter traction. It’s loose sand that came in through the rust holes in the fender. It’s amazing what you can get used to.

Once I made the decision to replace my car it was just a matter of saving some money and finding another Toyota. For some reason, my husband kept trying to distract me from my loyalty. "What about an Intrepid? It’s a nice looking car . . . .You know, you could buy a Ford Focus for a lot less money," . . . and so on.

Now that I think about it, we went through the same process when I went to replace my old Macintosh computer. "What about a PC?" he said.

I tried to understand my husband’s diversion tactics and my tremendous loyalty. Of course I have plenty of experience with these brands. I trust them. It dawned on me that I am very comfortable with what I know.

There is nothing wrong with staying with what is comfortable, except for when there is a downside to not changing. I have coached many people who stayed stuck in unhappy situations because it was easier than changing. As one client put it, "I’m comfortable dancing with the devil I know," even when the devil is highly undesirable.

When you’re working towards something potentially big and scary, you can find all kinds of really good reasons, consciously or subconsciously, to not be successful. You might call them excuses, loopholes, or justification for your actions (or inaction). You might even laugh it off, all as a way of staying stuck.

Here are 5 sure signs you’re self-sabotaging and dancing with the devil you know.

1. You blame something or someone else for your situation. In truth, it’s usually just you getting in your own way.

2. You interpret just about everything as a sign that the change isn’t working, so you can give up on your goal. "This just wasn’t meant to be." Have you ever noticed you see exactly what you’re looking for?

3. You deny your feelings by telling yourself you don’t want the change and everything is just fine the way it is. Denying your feelings doesn’t make them go away. They resurface again and again until you act on them.

4. You procrastinate taking action, thinking it will be easier tomorrow. This is often just fear in disguise.

5. You’re rebelling against your mother, your spouse, your boss or society. Now who are you really hurting?

So what rebellion are you waging instead of changing? Is it eating, speeding or being late for meetings? What is it you really want? What behavior, if you could be successful, would ultimately make you happier?

When the downside to not changing becomes more painful than changing, you’re ready for a breakthrough. You know, you don’t have to slay the dragon with one fell swoop. You can put an end to him bit by bit. Step by step.

If you like rebellions, start one that works in your favor. You can go against the flow and be successful and happy. Not overindulging at parties and restaurants could be rebellious. How about working less and playing more?

My husband is looking forward to playing more. He’s busy planning his annual, golf get-away. Spring is coming and the courses will soon be open. Personally, I think the local courses are a much better deal, and just as nice. "Don’t you think so, honey?"