by Beverley Stone BSc Psych (Hons), MEd (Human Relations), PGC, AFBPsS , Registered hpc , Practitioner, C.Psychol.
“The ideal book for anyone looking for the courage to make a change...practical sensitive and helpful strategies.” DAWN FRENCH “Highly recommended.” DEEPAK CHOPRA
ABOUT THE BOOK
his is a book for people who are tearing
themselves apart, unable to decide whether to leave their partner or stay. This dilemma feels terrible, dominates their life and is constantly in their thoughts. Because they can see both sides of the argument, this constant swinging from go to stay leaves them mentally exhausted, emotionally drained and physically ill.
They may have been on this dreadful seesaw for weeks, months or even years. Finding the courage to change their life and cross their ‘Rubicon’ can be very hard. The potential repercussions seem overwhelming. Whichever choice they make surfaces fear and apprehension. So why should they even think about exposing themselves to such pain? Because the alternative is that, by remaining the same, their life will always be as unsatisfying as it is now. So, the book shows that the reward of finally becoming the person they want to be, of living the life they want to live, is surely worth the struggle. It shows what will happen if they remain indecisive. It confronts them with the deepest fear in the human psyche – the terror of living a wasted life. They are wasting their life by constantly vacillating. And they know it. By keeping this thought in the front of their mind at all times, the reader will finally find the courage to get off their seesaw once and for all.
“I’ve known people trapped in deeply unhappy relationships for years, because of no apparent way out. Indecision only adds to the misery. Beverley Stone’s serious guide to honest, clear ways to change, offers men and women the release to be themselves and is inspiring in its lessons.” ANNA FORD
The 6 Million Dollar Questions posed in the book will encourage the reader to hold a mirror up to themselves, challenge their current beliefs and assumptions and help them develop a new perspective. This perspective is encompassed in the 6 Life Changing Hurdles that readers must overcome if they are to have a fulfilled, rather than a wasted life: 1. Be Authentic - take the risk of being yourself (not what everyone else wants you to be) 2. Accept anxiety as a positive, fundamental human experience (stop giving in to it) 3. Make your one and only life a meaningful one (not one that you’ll end up regretting) 4. Take responsibility for your situation (no blaming others) 5. Be aware that you always have a choice (you’re not as trapped as you think you are) 6. Live by your own values and standards (not everyone else’s) Armed with this newfound philosophy along with practical tools and techniques on how to change attitudes, thoughts and behaviours, the book will make it clear which decision they should now take – to either stay, but in a radically improved relationship or to leave and make a new beginning. Either way, their dilemma will have been resolved.
Chapter 1: So your indecision is final! Chapter one spells out the impact that your indecision is having on your making the most of your one and only life. You’ve tried everything from professional counseling, late night talks with friends to self-help books. Each time you think you’ve made a decision, you find yourself back in the loop, raking over excellent reasons to stay and ever better reasons to leave. The chapter highlights the confusion you feel by your inability to take action, how this is diminishing you as a person, how you are stagnating and making yourself ill. The chapter ends with the three possible options you have if you’re to live a meaningful life. Chapter 2: Why no change? Chapter two addresses the problem with change and what keeps you indecisive. It explains how you are blocking yourself from becoming everything you could be and how you are weighed down with fearful thoughts and anxiety. You are challenged with the question of how it feels now - standing still in life, not taking the risks of crossing your ‘Rubicon’, playing it safe and being in the same position week after week, year after year. The chapter confronts you with the harsh reality that either way – jumping into the abyss of uncertainty or standing still, you cannot escape stress and anxiety, so you must stop trying. Chapter 3: Will either decision really end in catastrophe? This chapter shows the impact that your ‘Catastrophic Fantasies’ have on your indecision; how these hold you back rather than allow you to take the risk of change. It challenges you to consider that, by succumbing to your fears, you may be sitting in the ‘Waiting Room of Life’, never becoming the person you could be. You can no longer sit and wait for it to feel safe to make your move; it never will and, by hoping against hope, you are already regretting a wasted life. You don’t want the following words on your tombstone do you? - Born 1973 Died 2005, Buried 2067 Chapter 4: Stop revving your engine with your foot on the brake Chapter 4 confronts you with the reality of your situation: Have you convinced yourself that you’re merely hovering in limbo at a sunny crossroads, eating a picnic, whilst weighing up the pros and cons of which path to take – stay or go? Or, are you in reality in a situation of extreme conflict; the conflict between moving and not moving?
It’s like an aircraft on a short runway where the pilot must rev the engine whilst keeping one foot firmly on the break. This would be completely senseless without the clear intention, when the right moment came, to release the brakes and take off. Otherwise the aircraft would shake itself to pieces. So rather than hovering in limbo, are you in fact shaking yourself to pieces, tearing yourself apart? Chapter 5: Your New Perspective This chapter summarizes your new perspective, outlined in the previous chapters. It shows that most people convince themselves that they don’t have any choices in life. You too may have lulled yourself into believing that because your world is full of commitments and obligations, you don’t have the freedom to choose to break away or demand major improvements in your relationship. You may well feel that you have no choice but to live your life for everyone else, feel trapped and blame others for it. Whereas, if you’re to live a meaningful and fulfilled life, you need to accept that you are in the situation you find yourself because you have made choices, freely, and are therefore totally responsible for your predicament. It also introduces the Six Million Dollar questions included in the following four chapters that help you realize the truth of this new perspective, give you new ways of understanding your current dilemma and the courage to finally change your life Chapter 6: The Six Million Dollar Questions: Accepting responsibility for your impasse Many people find it difficult to change their lives because in worrying about what people will think, or their social and financial obligations, they blame others and their situation for their own behaviour. The first set of Six Million Dollar Questions encourage you to challenge such beliefs, assumptions and behaviour, with the following questions: ‘Who are you trying please?’ ’Are you your own jailor?’ and ‘Who’s pulling your strings?’ The chapter demonstrates that no one has put you “in bondage”. You are not as trapped as you think you are, and that you are free to choose to do anything with your life. It shows that you cannot detach the burden of responsibility for your indecision and shift it elsewhere: ’One is entirely responsible for one’s life, not only for one’s actions but for one’s failures to act’. Chapter 7: The Six Million Dollar Questions: Accepting the downside of your decision One reason why people still struggle with crossing their Rubicon is that when you decide to do one thing you are met head on with the fact that you will have to give up s omething else, The next set of Six Million Dollar Questions continue the challenge by asking: ‘What are you waiting for’, ‘Are you avoiding your responsibility for an already wasted life?’, ‘Are you hoping someone will hold your hand’ and ‘Who has the answer?’.
The chapter helps you understand that a decision is a lonely act; no one else can decide for you nor absorb the risks that your decision entails. That in the end you make your own advice, you alone have to decide, you alone have to act and live with the consequences of your decision. Chapter 8: The Six Million Dollar Questions: Satisfying your own needs and ambitions Even if you take responsibility for your situation, accept that you make your own advice and take your decision, you may still hesitate preferring to remain and hide who you really are and what your really want rather than be authentic and risk conflict and disapproval: ‘… the choice either to participate in the collective psychosisor take a risk and become healthy and perhaps crucified.’ In order to stimulate the reader to take action, the Six Million Dollar Questions continue with: ‘If not now, when?’ ‘What’s the worst thing that can happen?’ ‘Will it really happen?’ and ‘How does it feel now, standing still?’ This chapter reminds people that being authentic and leaving for pastures new or staying yet demanding new ground rules can be dangerous. But so, too, can continuing to live an inauthentic, unfulfilled life. Chapter 9: The Six Million Dollar Questions: Being authentic Every minute of every day, people are in situations where they could say one thing and not another; do one thing and not another. But to live an authentic life, you must be aware of your alternatives and the act of considering them. It’s this conscious awareness of this freedom to choose who you are and what you do, every moment of your life, which defines who can and who can’t claim to be authentic. Chapter nine embeds this idea by asking: ‘Who is the real you?’, ‘Do you have the courage to be authentic?’, ‘Are you succumbing to the Gulliver Effect?’, and ‘Have you shackled yourself with invisible threads?’ If you don’t want to be a bland version of yourself, you need to summon the courage to break away from your old patterns, make your decision to stay or leave once and for all and take responsibility for the life you choose to live.
Chapter 10: Let’s take a breather Chapter 10 allows you to take a breather and recap on the 6 million dollar questions by summarizing them under the 6 Life Changing Hurdles. The chapter reminds you that the journey of change is lonely, painful and tough. It’s never ending and it’s all there is. There is no given, no Guru, no right answer, no authority, just you. You just need to jump; but you need to do it skillfully and Part III of the book offers pragmatic techniques to help you do just that. Chapter 11: HURDLE 1 The first hurdle is to ‘Be authentic and take the risk of being yourself (not what everyone else wants you to be)’. To do this, you need to ask yourself ‘Will I commit to a course of action and engage in life as my own person? Or will I remain inauthentic and merely continue as I am now – occupying roles and going through the motions without real commitment?’ Our inauthenticity is most obvious when we stop ourselves saying what we think, being who we are or doing what we want because we know the people around us won’t like it so, instead, prefer to avoid the inevitable flak and conflict. This chapter covers how you handle conflict currently and the changes you need to make in order to get the truth on the table and stop succumbing to an unproductive, unspoken contract in your relationship. Chapter 12: HURDLE 2 The second hurdle is to ‘Accept anxiety as a positive, fundamental human experience (stop giving into it)’. The chapter shows how to check anxiety and use it constructively, not as a symptom of looming catastrophe but as ‘life energy’. To learn to ‘be anxious in the right way’, you must first accept that your feelings are caused by things that go on inside your head rather than outside it. As Epictetus said in 100AD: ‘Men are not disturbed by things but by the views they take of them’. If you are to improve your situation, you need to decide either to change it or the way you view it; there is no point remaining in the same situation and continuing to view it with stress, horror or unhappiness – that’s just a waste of energy, a waste of life. The chapter ends with a practical Face Your Challenges 4-Step Technique that helps you to meet difficult conversations and situations with courage and compassion rather than with anxiety, blame, avoidance or anger.
Chapter 13: HURDLE 3 The third hurdle is to ‘Make your one and only life a meaningful one (not one you’ll end up regretting)’. To help with this you need to eliminate obsessive, anxious self talk and learn how to stop living in the past or future and stay in the “here and now” You are helped in this chapter with a set of techniques to that control your negative self-talk and block out destructive thoughts. By developing this skill of staying in the here and now, you’ll have a clear mind, a more realistic perspective and be able to make the decision that will ensure your life is a meaningful one. Chapter 14: HURDLE 4 Hurdle four is ‘Take responsibility for your situation (no blaming others)’ This involves recognizing that when you blame others for your situation, in many cases it’s your internal conflict that’s to blame. Bringing unconscious resistance between your Underdog and Topdog to consciousness and resolving it through the techniques explained in the chapter will unshackle your Will power so that you will be able to stick to your decision, action it and thereby stay and improve the relationship or finally move out. Chapter 15: Hurdle 5 The fifth hurdle is: ‘Be aware that you always have a choice (you’re not as trapped as you think you are)’. It demonstrates how you convince yourself that you are trapped by weighty obligations and stifling routine. To help take responsibility for your situation, not blame others for it and make your choice, each time you find yourself using the words: ‘I can’t decide’, ‘I can’t stay and change our relationship’, ‘I can’t go and manage alone’, try replacing them with ‘I won’t decide’, ‘I wont stay and change our relationship’, ‘I wont go and manage alone’.
Chapter 16: HURDLE 6 The sixth hurdle is ‘Live by your own values and standards (not by everyone else’s)’. You cannot continue to live your life by trying to live up to other people’s values, standards and expectations. The chapter encourages you to clarify those values you want to live by that will give your life meaning. Your perfect is not my perfect. Your acceptable way of life may not be mine. By revealing unchallenged assumptions and questioning their validity, chapter 16 will help you to stop self-image actualizing and start self-actualizing; to be more generous with yourself and respond more openly and creatively to your relationship. Chapter 17: Your job is to be you This chapter summarizes the core messages of the book that will finally open your door to action - stay or leave; move or improve. The perspective on life offered in the book means that you really have no choice in life but to live with the anxiety of crossing Rubicons if you are to have a fulfilling relationship and avoid your own stagnation. We’ve seen that living in a constant state of anxiety requires the courage to address the promises you make to yourself at three o’clock in the morning, whilst driving along a sunny road, whilst abroad on holiday. Whilst anxiety is both stressful and developmental, guilt is stressful and corrosive. The guilt you feel due to your indecision, knowing you’re not fulfilling your life is horrendous. To take the apparently safe path leads not only to pointlessness, but also to a sense of powerlessness, hopelessness, helplessness and quiet desperation. You must choose whether to cling to the known and familiar fears or risk opening yourself up to a less certain but more satisfying life; whether to stay and improve your relationship or open yourself up to an uncertain, but more fulfilling future.
By adopting this techniques outlined in the chapter you feel powerful, free to choose and take responsibility for the choice. You have always been free to do anything with your life. You’ve just been hypnotizing yourself with your own language.
3. CONTENTS INTRODUCTION 1 PART ONE – YOU, NOW CHAPTER ONE – So your indecision is final? • • • • • •
Your reasons to go 6 Your reasons to stay 6 You’re confused by your inability to take action 6 You’re stagnating yet feel powerless to do anything about it 7 You’ve lost yourself and it’s making you ill 7 It’s time to change 8
CHAPTER TWO – Why no change? • • • • • • •
Being authentic 9 Crossing your Rubicons 9 Triangulating - how you stagnate 10 The problem with change 10 But how does it feel right now? 11 You only have two choices in life 11 You can’t escape stress - so stop trying 11
CHAPTER THREE – Will either decision really end in catastrophe? • Catastrophic fantasies don’t help 12 • Change is merely a learning experience 12 • Are you sitting in the waiting room of life? 13 • Are you guilty of living an unlived life? 14 CHAPTER FOUR – Stop revving your engine with your foot on the brake • ‘It’s not that bad’ 15 • It is that bad! 15 PART TWO – YOUR NEW PERSPECTIVE CHAPTER FIVE – Your New Perspective • Your New Perspective 17 • The Six Million Dollar Questions 17 CHAPTER SIX - The Six Million Dollar Questions: Accepting responsibility for your impasse • Who are you trying to please? 18 • Are you your own jailor? 18 • Who’s pulling your strings? 19 CHAPTER SEVEN - The Six Million Dollar Questions: Accepting the downside of your decision • What are you waiting for? 21 • Are you avoiding your responsibility for an already wasted life? 21 • Are you hoping someone will hold your hand? 22 • Who has the answer? 22
CHAPTER EIGHT - The Six Million Dollar Questions: Satisfying your own needs and ambitions • If not now, when? 24 • What’s the worst thing that could happen? 24 • Will it really happen? 25 • How does it feel now, standing still? 25 CHAPTER NINE - The Six Million Dollar Questions: Being authentic • Who is the real you? 26 • Do you have the courage to be authentic? 26 • Are you succumbing to the Gulliver Effect? 26 • Have you shackled yourself with invisible threads? 27 CHAPTER TEN - Let’s take a breather • The 6 Life Changing Hurdles 28 • Just Jump! 28 PART THREE – THE 6 LIFE CHANGING HURDLES CHAPTER ELEVEN HURDLE 1: Be Authentic – Take the risk of being yourself (not what everyone else wants you to be) • Be Authentic 29 • Know how you argue 29 • Don’t succumb to the Gulliver Effect 30 • Stop thinking ‘anything for peace’ 30 • Stop losing it 31 • Get the truth on the table 31 • Unshackle yourself 32 • Stop succumbing to an unspoken contract 32 • Be authentic but ethical too 33 CHAPTER TWELVE HURDLE 2: Accept anxiety as a positive, fundamental human experience (stop giving in to it) • See anxiety as life energy 34 • Think ‘problem’ not ‘threat’ 34 • Choose your viewpoint 35 • Choose your feelings 35 • Change the situation or the way you view it 36 • No one can make you feel anything 36 • Use the Facing Life Challenges 4-Step Technique 37 CHAPTER THIRTEEN HURDLE 3: Make your one and only life a meaningful one (not one you’ll end up regretting) • Stop behaving like a ‘tangled monkey’ 39 • Stop living in the past and future 39 • Stop living in a fantasy world 40 • Stay in the ‘here and now’ 40 • Think: Nothing Matters 41
CHAPTER FOURTEEN HURDLE 4: Take Responsibility for your situation (no blaming others) • Strengthen your willpower 43 • Be conscious of unconscious conflict 43 • De-power your underdog 44 CHAPTER FIFTEEN HURDLE 5: Be aware that you always have a choice (you’re not as trapped as you think you are) • Change your name and move to California! 45 • Stop hypnotizing yourself 46 • Change your language 46 CHAPTER SIXTEEN HURDLE 6: Live by your own values and standards (not everyone else’s) • If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him! 48 • Your job is to be you 48 • Make your own meaning 49 • Do it – badly 49 • Do your own thing 50 • Fully live your life 50 • Consider what you would do if you only had 10 years to live 51 CHAPTER SEVENTEEN - Your job is to be you • Move or improve 52 • Be authentic 52 • Be a little more selfish 52 • Choose life! 53 • Define yourself 53 • Trust yourself • Be the you that you like 54 • Be you and stay 54 • Be you and leave 55 • Be courageous 55 • No more ‘triumph of hope over experience’ 55 • Risk making mistakes 56 • Keep crossing you Rubicons forever 56 • Define the moment 57 APPENDIXES • Appendix I – Develop an explicit contract • Appendix II - Inspiring words 60 BIBLIOGRPAHY