If I Don’t Start, I Don’t Have a Problem

I love reading books especially the ones that are filled with pockets of wisdom for everyday living.  Today, I’d like to give you a simple and practical tool from Magic Words – 101 Ways to Talk Your Way Through Life’s Challenges.  Thank you to my good friend, Nisha, who recommended this book to me!

(Magic Words #31)
IF I DON’T START, I DON’T HAVE A PROBLEM

Betcha can’t eat just one: that old potato chip commercial definitely hits a very deep nerve.  Think Ben & Jerry’s, M&M’s, whipped cream, French fries, triple chocolate-chip cookies…even pickles.

Jeri, a newspaper reporter, was working on an important investigative piece on a labor racketeering project.  Since she was on a tight deadline, she found herself getting takeout lunches from the gourmet shop next door to her office.  For the first week she stuck to her usual turkey sandwich or tuna-from-a can with Diet Dr Pepper, but then she spied a row of large round glass self-service containers of nuts and dried fruits behind the deli area.  Knowing she had a weakness for unsalted cashews, she stayed away.  But one day, just as a special treat, she scooped a handful of jumbo nuts into a plastic bag.  The next day she was back, snapping up some more.

A week later, she was eating cashews for afternoon snacks and popping a few on the subway ride home.  Two months passed, and she’d gain seven pounds plus a couple more from overdosing on morning Danish and wolfing down chunks of Taleggio cheese with an evening glass of wine.

We told her about Dr. Stephen Gullo, a well-known weight control expert who would be able to help her quit the cashew habit.  She made an appointment with him for the following week.

Jeri’s problem is a common one.  Many of us, according to Dr. Gullo, have “trigger foods” that activate a “can’t resist” process.  Potato chips are a great example.  Ice cream, bread, cake, and cookies are all culprits, as is almost anything that contains chocolate.  How do you stop the process?  Dr. Gullo prescribes these magic words: If I don’t start, I don’t have a problem.

Jeri wrote them on a piece of paper, which she Scotch-taped to her change purse.  If she surrendered to her urges and loaded up on cashews, when she reached the checkout counter she’d give them back to the cashier.  If she was at a party and a bowl of nuts came into view, Dr. Gullo advised that she move out of range immediately and repeat the magic words to herself.  At the end of three weeks, Jeri had shed half a dozen pounds and was well on her way to zipping up her Levi’s again.

Dr. Gullo’s magic words also work for problems that don’t involve food.  For instance, it’s easy to start complaining in today’s stressful employment climate – the boss is inaccessible, the hours are excruciating, the pay is unfair, blah, blah, blah.  Complaining begets more complaining and inevitably the boss finds out who started the griping, so it’s bad for the complainer – and for general morale.  A lot of people have a tendency to air grievances around the water cooler.  If you’re one of those who sets up a negative situation, do yourself a favor and say “If I don’t start…” and you and your co-workers will steer clear of a common problem.

Nagging is another prime area where “If you don’t start” has a positive effect.  Unfortunately, women have been stereotyped as naggers, though in many cases they nag for a good reason.  Men nag too.  We think it can easily be stopped by changing the magic words slightly, to “If I don’t start, WE don’t have a problem.”

From nachos to nagging, cashews to complaining, the best approach to stopping something you shouldn’t be doing is not starting in the first place.

-Magic Words – 101 Ways to Talk Your Way Through Life’s Challenges
by Howard Kaminsky & Alexandra Penney (pg. 87-89)

Quotes of the Week | Love

Every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says,
‘Make me feel important.’ If you can do that, you’ll be a success not only in business,
but in life as well.

-Mary Kay Ash

Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.
-Mother Teresa

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them humanity cannot survive.
-Dalai Lama

Love will find a way.
Indifference will find an excuse.

-Ukrainian proverb

Loving Without Condoning Poor Behavior

It’s Saturday and you wake up to a beautiful sunny morning.  You’re looking forward to an unplanned day filled with endless possibilities.  You’re happy and rested.  Suddenly out of left field you’re smacked with a curve ball on the side of your head with a rant of accusations by a frustrated loved one.  All before stepping out of bed.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article on Acceptance | One of the Hardest Things to Do.  And I asked myself ‘Where do you draw the line between accepting the person without condoning their ‘off the handle’ behavior?’  Accepting them for who they are does not mean you have to agree with their behavior.  In fact, tough love will require you to have the courage to confront.  The key factor to confrontation is that your intentions need to come from a place of love and the well being for that person rather than from a place of anger or spite.  And even with your best intentions, it may still be received with defensiveness, anger, resistance, or withdrawal.

It’s natural for us to protect ourselves and take the path of the least resistant and remain silent.  But overtime, your inner fuming and staying bitter towards them will harm you.  Never make the assumption they’ll pick up on your silent cues and magically put the pieces together, or that they’ll feel remorseful for their actions and take the first step towards reconciliation.  They’re not mind readers, they can see you’re upset but they won’t necessarily know why you’re upset.  Plus they’re still probably upset themselves and wondering why you haven’t figured it out.  This will only create more distance between the both of you and at this point, become a battle of wills.  So take the initiative to clearly and objectively communicate what you’re seeing, experiencing and feeling.

It’s also good to keep in mind, that people’s frustrations usually stem out of their own personal issues, inner hurts or past woundings.  So it’s not you, your actions or words that necessarily trigger them but a hurt, resentment, bitterness that might already be within their hearts.  But if they’re not aware of this, they’ll think it’s you and blame you for how they’re feeling.  With this in mind, it’s easier to be patient with them as you walk beside them in their journey.

Since these hurricane days come when you least expect it, it’s emotionally difficult to brace for it.  Loving the person without condoning their poor behavior is very hard to practice.  But it’s possible with compassion, courage, love and truth.  After all you’ve said and done, ultimately it’s up to them to choose what they want to do with it.  My hope is that they’ll see the love behind your words, take responsibility for their feelings and move toward healthy steps for improvement.

© 2012 Susie Lee

Poster of the Week | Be You

Disappointments | Re-evaluate & Re-create

At some point in our lives, it’s inevitable we’ll face disappointments. It might be with our career, relationships (or a lack of), health or the world at large.  The good news is that disappointments come whenever we attempt to do anything great in our lives or for the world.  The not so good news is that it’s closely followed by resistance, doubt, cynicism, or setbacks in the pursuit of that greatness.

Why this gloomy topic?  Because I know some of us are in this journey right now.  Disappointments will often crush determination with hopelessness, despair and “what’s the use?”  Our minds and bodies will begin to shut down with weariness.  I find when I’m in this place; it helps to step away from my efforts and rest.  In the meantime, I connect with my family and friends for encouragement – drawing strength and wisdom from them.  I, also, read books, get out in nature, watch movies and listen to songs that will inspire me, as it fills me up with love, light and life. After a period of time, I have the newfound energy to help me move forward with clarity, courage and creativity.

But I understand this overwhelming feeling of despair might be a heavy burden for some people to carry that they may decide to throw in the towel.  For others, this feeling of despair may become a catalyst to grow stronger and wiser – fueling their passion, energy, and creativity.  They can choose to remain in despair or see the undercurrent of hope.  For many people, this is where the rubber meets the road.

My message to you is don’t give up on your convictions.  Disappointments are a part of the journey; it’s a sign that you’re closer to success than when you first started.  You’re an amazing being who is highly adaptable and strong-willed.  When the weight of the world is crushing you – there’s still more inside of you.  You can never be completely crushed unless you allow it.  Continue to explore, discover, create and dream of a better world… and a better you.

© 2012 Susie Lee

*This article is dedicated to my aquaterra tv co-host Peter Ormesher

Quotes ::
Anytime you suffer a setback or disappointment,
put your head down and plow ahead.
– Les Brown

Enthusiasm is followed by disappointment and even depression,
and then by renewed enthusiasm.
– Murray Gell-Mann

Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal;
it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it.
– Eliza Tabor

One’s best success comes after their greatest disappointments.
– Henry Ward Beecher

The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire;
the size of your dream;and how you handle disappointment along the way.
– Robert Kiyosaki

Giving Something Up in Exchange for Something Greater

Around this time of year, many Christians and Catholics from around the world observe Lent. They choose to abstain from certain foods or pleasurable activities for 40 days leading up to the single most important event of their faith, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, otherwise known as Easter. Some popular choices include, giving up desserts, taking time out from social media, refraining from deep fried foods, being caffeine-free or simply unplugging the TV… I know it sounds absurd, why would anyone want to give these up? It’s an annual spiritual pilgrimage believers go on to grow closer to God and grow stronger in their faith. So instead of surfing on their iPhone they might use that time to read their Bible or write in their journal. Or when tempted to reach for the sprinkle colored donut, they might see it as a reminder to pray for family, friends or the world around them. This may be a foreign, even strange, concept to those who aren’t familiar with Lent.

I believe this practice of ‘giving something up in exchange’ can benefit anyone. Your exchange may not be for spiritual reasons but you can make it deeply personal and meaningful. It can be giving up something tangible like your late night snacks to the intangible like a negative attitude? Or instead of giving up, why not take something on? Encourage a person everyday, ‘ungrudge’ those grudges, look on the brighter side of things, read to the elderly, become a Big Brother or Sister, write that book or take that class?

Over time, this practice will de-clutter the mind and create more space within the soul to grow. It will help you to focus by letting go of things that slowly steal your time or letting go of attitudes that unconsciously hold you back. I’m not advocating that vices are bad but I believe, sometimes, they have an invisible hold on us. How strong – only you would know. I’m confident that you will feel and see a difference within 40 days. If you’ve decided to take up this challenge, I would love to hear how your journey’s going – where it’s taking you and where you are.

I’ve heard it takes 21 days to break a habit and 30 days to retrain a new one. Hmm… This sounds vaguely like the New Year’s resolutions doesn’t it? And while we’re on that topic, how’s that going for you these days?

© 2012 Susie Lee

Quotes of the Week: Do It Now!

“What you are planning to do tomorrow, do today;
what you are going to do today, do right now.”
-Indian Proverb

“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers.
But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.”
-Sarah Ban Breathnach

This week I encourage you:
Don’t procrastinate. Don’t wait. Don’t fear. Don’t doubt.
Take the risk. Do it now. Seize the moment. Dream BIG.
And take positive steps towards it.
-susie lee

Have a great surprised filled week!