Self-defeating actions will continue to give us self-defeating results.
I love to hear David Letterman give his Words of Wisdom from Dr. Phil. The clips are absolutely hilarious. While the segments are funny when taken out of context, Dr Phil has made a national reputation for himself in providing no-nonsense advice on a variety of topics. And I have found his books to be surprisingly solid and full of direct, take-responsibility principles.
Three years ago I met with Bill, a frustrated on-the-road salesman. He knew he was off track and we laid out a plan for his exit and redirection to a more suitable and fulfilling career path. Two weeks ago Bill came in to see me again. He is still working in the same job, is even more frustrated and is now experiencing shortness of breath and chest pains. Dr. Phil’s standard question comes to me often in these situations: “So, how’s that working for you?”
Why do we continue to do what is frustrating and unfulfilling? Once we know our gifts, we have the responsibility to exercise those gifts for our own betterment and for the lives of those around us. I believe we have not only the opportunity but the accountability to live lives of fulfillment and accomplishment. I fear standing in front of God on the Day of Judgment having squandered my talents and abilities.
“I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” St. Paul
The modern definition of “insanity” is to continue doing what we’ve always done, and yet to expect different results. But no, different results always require different actions.
I always wonder what a person has been thinking in the time between clearly understanding self-defeating behavior and the time when they decide to take action to correct it. Why would anyone continue to go to a job where they are belittled, underpaid and dishonored? Why would someone continue to do something physically that was shown to be destroying their health? Why would a husband continue to criticize and condemn his wife and then watch her recoil and cringe at his approach? Why don’t we all move directly toward healthier relationships, fulfilling work and meaningful relationships, once we know the path? Why would any of us purposely choose misery over the possibility of joy and victory?
In defending the sameness of negative actions I can hear Dr. Phil’s question resonating: “So, how’s that working for you?”
From the Bible:
“As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.” Proverbs 26: 11