“What would have to happen for you to believe in yourself?”
My squad of misfits and I had an awesome group discussion today. Disobediently, some of them came back for my second group…which I allowed of course. Even if they don’t really want recovery or are unsure, I’m just glad I can bring a little light into their darkness when I can. It’s not lost on me the way they’re feeling; I know what it’s like when someone shines some light in every now and again. My usefulness to them is contingent upon my intention, reminding them that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Until then, my only goal is to break down the barriers between them and their freedom. We all possess powerful assets; and the suppression of those God given assets is an offense more egregious than misusing them. Influence is mine.
One of my guys called me reporting sickness, depression, and stressful conditions. Following along, I asked him why he thought he was stressed out. Unable to locate the reason, he said his sober living was the source. Understanding that was irrational, I asked him what his intention was for the day. His answer consisted of programming, dinner, and television. Lovingly I laughed, explaining that I would be stressed too; if I woke up in the morning and didn’t know why I’d be depressed too. So, I told him to write down a goal for the day, one for the week, and one for the month; suggesting he call me later to go over them later after my group. It was going to be a purposeful day, I just didn’t know it yet.
What started as a light discussion on goals evolved after casual mention of desiring to be a real estate developer. An opportunity for understanding. The clients’ assertion of career choice seemed almost accidental in nature; his voice trailed off towards the end of his declaration. Uncertain of its course, I sailed an inquiry as to how he would arrive in a reality where he was a real estate developer. He looked down at the ground. Not in search of an answer as to how he could, but in search of an excuse because he knew he wouldn’t. Seeing an opportunity, I seized it.
“What would have to happen for you to be a developer?” I asked. Puzzled, he moved his insecure slump into a more confident stare into the ceiling, searching for the answer. “I’d have to pass a real estate exam,” he replied, certain he nailed the answer. Writing it down, I followed up asking, “What would have to happen for you to pass the real estate exam?” Again, he responded saying he would have to study. This was immediately followed with questioning how he would accomplish studying which was answered perfectly with, “I’d have to be accountable to myself.” Quietly, I said “You already told me that doesn’t work. So, what would have to happen in order for you to stay accountable?” After two failed answers, he stared at me puzzled. “Not once would it ever occur to you that the only way to keep yourself accountable is to ask for help. You would rather die where you stand than ask for help with something, even if it’s to your detriment!”
“Do you see how this affects you in your life?” I asked, hoping for a conviction in his confirmation. Anxiously, I pressed on telling him to confirm whether or not he agreed with the following statement: “I don’t like to make goals because I never achieve them. I have great ideas and really try to accomplish them, but I don’t know how to do the necessary footwork to get there. I will think about it, trying to figure it out again and again until I am certain I can’t do it. So, I give up.” His confirmation, along with the agreement of most of the others motivated me to swing through and bring the point home.
“Remember when I asked you all what your intention was for the day and you couldn’t give me one? Remember telling me that you are just kind of going to group and then hanging out later?” I asked, being sure to approach the turn as cautiously as possible. Following their agreement. Then, I asked, “Would you agree that your lack of intention for the day is a result of a failure to break down future goals to set that daily intention…like getting a real estate license?” Confidently, he agreed again.
Then, I asked, “Do you see how daily intentions create daily purpose and a reason to get out of bed?” I asked. “Yeah, that makes sense actually,” he said, as a grin crossed over his face. “A few more questions,” I said, capturing everyone’s attention for a moment long enough to ask, “Do you see how I helped you understand a major problem in your thinking that might not have happened had I not been here?” We agreed as I said, “Do you understand how breaking down goals into 24-hour intentions makes them more attainable than just hoping shit just comes together some day?” After the final confirmation, I delivered the knockout question, “Would you agree that a goal like recovery has been unattainable because you’ve been unwilling to ask for help from people like me?” nodding I continued, “Do you understand that ‘One Day at a Time’ means breaking down big goals, like recovery, into daily intentions so they’re attainable and not insurmountable problems?” He agreed.
Before one can accept something, they must hear it and understand it. It’s like those puzzle pieces I always talk about. The first few are different aspects of an idea you unconsciously hear. Unaware, you carry on until the day comes when you are given a key piece that allows you to form a conscious thought…so you question its validity. Finally, you arrive at the destination of acceptance, when the entire puzzle is complete, and you have the profound experience that changes you. They’ve already heard everything they need to hear, and I can’t lead them to the acceptance they seek. All I can do is help them survive through understanding, relentlessly trying to crack the code of their mind…a mind that’s working against them. I’ve never been naïve enough to think I would have a hand in their success and I still don’t.