One of the worst feelings one can experience is finally accomplishing your goals…and then realizing it wasn’t what you wanted. There are only two ways this can happen:
(1) You sacrificed more than you realized.
(2) Your goal was never yours. It was someone else’s.
It might seem silly to be talking about this. You just want to accomplish your dream and you’re willing to give everything to make it happen. What’s this about regretting success? This can’t possibly happen. You’re too mature, driven, and focused to fall for this.
Except that it happens all the time. Do you know any people “at the top” who have failing marriages, non-existent relationships with their children, poor health from bad habits, etc.? Or even worse, do you know of any people who have succeeded by sacrificing their integrity? Was it worth it? That could never be you…right?
This is a problem only high performers will experience. So it’s not talked about much. People make a lot more money selling the dream than selling long-lasting fulfillment. But I want you to be successful on your own terms. I don’t want you to succeed and have sacrificed too much or learn it was never what you wanted.
To prevent this, it takes a simple 2 step process:
(1) Take the time to understand your values
(2) Get rid of everything else
Let’s say you have a really great friend that is coming into town. They say, “Hey, let’s catch up! Dinner at 6 pm?” Would you go? I hope so! You catch up and then you learn your friend will be moving into the area. Would you spend time with this person? Absolutely! And over time, you will end up knowing this friend very well.
Take this “best friend” and replace it with “You.” Do you spend time with yourself? Do you take the time to understand yourself? How long have you really taken the time to get to know yourself?
When you know yourself with absolute clarity, then every goal you set out for yourself will be yours. And if you understand your values with absolute clarity, what you need to sacrifice will be obvious and never a regret.
In the last post, I spoke about sacrifice being the key to change. I ended with the following concept: You can only know you sacrificed enough once you have achieved your goals. Until then, the sacrifice wasn’t enough.
That’s only half the story.
The idea that you need to sacrifice more, more, more, until you’ve achieved the goal might sound a bit daunting. But it doesn’t have to be.
For some strange reason, our culture doesn’t like the term “sacrifice.” It sees it as a bad thing, something to be avoided, something to cheat out of. Getting something for nothing is always better. Any sacrifice needed to achieve your goals should be minimized as much as possible.
What do you think would happen if you sacrificed an abusive relationship? What would happen if you sacrificed a dead-end job that didn’t make you happy? What would happen if you sacrificed your ego to listen to a different perspective? Although not guaranteed, I like to think your life would improve for the better.
The price you need to pay for success will always be high, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It is possible to structure your life so that you sacrifice the things that hold you back and keep the things that move you forward.
Is it possible to only sacrifice bad things to lead to success? If this is the case, then why doesn’t everyone just do this? That sounds easy.
That’s the journey I want to highlight for you if you want to be a High Performer with a close connection to a Higher Power. Low performance isn’t due to a lack of ability. Low performance is the inability to understand what parts of one’s life are negative and what parts are positive. If you can’t tell what is helping you versus what is hurting you, how are you going to be able to cut out the things that are hurting you?
If you’re sacrificing in such a way that it becomes harder and harder to push forward, it implies that you haven’t fully clarified your values in life. Superficial positive thinking during this struggle will only help you perpetuate this confused state. If taken to the extreme, you may have succeeded in the end, but you will have sacrificed too much to get there. That is an unfulfilling end to a hardworking life.
The way out is to always seek to gain greater and greater clarity on yourself.
Sacrifice is the key to change. The reason is because sacrifice is the key to doing anything worthwhile in life. Sacrifice is unavoidable. Most people want to focus on the goal, the dream, the ultimate prize. But the people who succeed and who perform at a high level are able to definitively point to the sacrifices they made to get to where they are.
Why is this the case? Is there a trick? Can you avoid sacrificing to achieve your goals? Can you have it all?
There are 24 hours in a day and 7 days a week. How you spend your time determines your future. One hour spent on one thing is an hour lost on other things. This is the basic structure of our reality. Until we can do some form of time travel or time manipulation, sacrifice will always be always necessary for success.
However, sacrifice is not necessarily a bad thing. If you really reflect on your life, you’ll find that there are many sacrifices worth making. If you want to be healthier, you need to sacrifice smoking cigarettes. If you want to be more productive, you might need to sacrifice Facebook. If you want to personally grow, you might need to sacrifice your inflated ego.
Not all sacrifices are bad. However, identifying the sacrifice allows you to get to the core of what is preventing you from changing for the better. But necessary sacrifice isn’t always obvious. If you sacrifice smoking to become healthier, you might be bringing more anxiety to your life. What do you need to sacrifice to keep that anxiety at a manageable level? What in your life forces you to need a chemical relief? If you really need that anxiety reducer in the form of smoking, are you unwittingly sacrificing your health to get through the day? Were Cigarettes really the thing preventing you from being healthier?
You can sacrifice anything you want to gain anything you want. But how do you what to sacrifice? How much should you sacrifice? You can only know you sacrificed enough once you have achieved your goals. Until then, the sacrifice wasn’t enough.
Unfortunately, most of us just pursue our goals without identifying our sacrifice. What ends up happening is a life where the sacrifices are made without your knowledge. That leads to an unhappy life, regardless of whether you achieved your goals. That’s not the type of change you’re looking for in your life. You’re looking for more.
In my last post, we spoke about whether or not people can change. I shared one of my big realizations in life:
“Never Underestimate the Capacity for People to Grow Beyond your Wildest Expectations” -Dr. Eric
However, this begs the question, “How can people change?”
First things first, what do we mean by “change.” The truth is that we see people changing all the time, sometimes for the worst. We also see people growing, moving forward in life, but they haven’t really “changed.” They may have graduate school, starting a new job. That’s great but that’s not the type of “change” we’re looking to understand.
The real question is “How can people change something that appears to be so fundamentally a part of who they are?”
Let’s say a student goes to school, studies very hard, then gets a job and works very hard. Did they change? Was there a secret to it? Not so much.
Let’s say the same student suddenly developed alcoholism, lost their job, stopped paying their bills and was on the street. Did they change? It seems so! (Unless alcoholism was always there?)
Let’s go the opposite direction. How does someone who is suffering from alcoholism make a strong enough change so that it no longer destroys their life? That’s the type of change we want.
If we expand this type of change beyond alcoholism to all forms of negative patterns and behaviors, then we may have found the holy grail of self-improvement! So what is it? How do people change?
The answer is simple to say but difficult to implement. The answer to “How can People Change?” is “Through Sacrifice.”
It is impossible to change if people don’t sacrifice something. The challenge is whether or not you choose the sacrifices for the changes happening in your life. If society chooses those sacrifices for you, then you’re living under society’s design. If you choose the sacrifices you make for your goals, then you’re living under your design. And if you sacrifice in a religious context for a higher power…you get the picture.
I’ll talk more about sacrifice in the next post.
Can people change? Or are people stuck in their ways?
Have you ever met someone that was just so annoying, or infuriating, or repulsive in their behavior that you just roll your eyes and think to yourself, “They’ll never learn.” Maybe they’re someone set in their ways, or maybe they’re someone who “just doesn’t get it.”
However, it might be more personal. It might be a close relative, or a spouse, or your child. It might be a pattern of behavior you see that is very harmful for that other person. Perhaps, then, you’re not rolling your eyes anymore. Perhaps you’re asking, “Can they change? I hope so.”
If you are religious, these are the moments you pray to God because you feel powerless to help those that you love. What often happens is that a small change occurs and you have hope! But then people revert back to their old ways and the cycle starts over again and again.
At this point, you might be discouraged. What can one do?
I’ve seen many people in destructive cycles. And it can be disheartening. However, I’ve come to learn something that has proven to be true time and time again. It has helped me become more loving, more patient, more kind. It goes as follows:
“Never Underestimate the Capacity for People to Grow Beyond your Wildest Expectations” -Dr. Eric
I truly mean that. And I’m not just saying it.
Our minds have a great limitation. It doesn’t like change and it prefers to see things as comfortable and the same. We want to believe our morning cup of coffee will be there, our jobs won’t become obsolete, the government won’t collapse tomorrow, etc. We also have a tendency to believe that negative things can and will perpetuate indefinitely into the future. Humanity will always be crazy, there will always be asset bubbles in the market that almost collapse the financial sector, taxes will always go up.
However, the reality is that the world isn’t static, and neither are people. As a Psychiatrist, I’ve seen amazing growth time and time again not just in my patients, but also in friends and family. The growth isn’t easy, but I know that I’ve been surprised more often than not. And when you get surprised a lot, it requires a revision of your world view.
Can people change? Yes. How can they change? Let’s talk about it next week: Hint: it’s about Sacrifice.
Conflict is everywhere. Some people avoid conflict like the plague while some people love conflict. I would say that the large majority try to avoid conflict. Why go through the hassle?
How you resolve conflict dictates the level of success you experience in your life. This goes beyond just work. Conflict resolution affects your friends, family, spouse, children, etc.
We’re also not just talking about big arguments and fights. I’m also including small areas of conflict that we often just brush off.
If you handle conflict in a mature and reasonable manner, you spend more tie moving forward than trying to resolve a conflict. Or even worse, you may be mired in a conflict that has blown out of hand.
That’s the obvious observation. What’s the Dr. Eric’s Chez Eric Spin? Well, it’s Psychiatry and Religion. Both Psychiatry and Religion have rich resources for resolving conflict. You just need the right lens to see it.
If you can imagine how early societies functioned, it was probably a close knit of a small group of people. However, as these early societies grew larger, it would be harder and harder to know every individual in the society. There needed to be systems of rules and laws, codes of conduct, agreed upon moral and ethics.
In the several thousands of years of societal development, the evolution of these rules, laws, conduct, morals, and ethics are best represented through Religion. And we can potentially say that the best forms of conflict resolution are hidden in ancient religious texts. When a society has strong conflict resolution in its culture, it’s easier to grow, flourish, and succeed.
In many ways, this makes intuitive sense. Love your neighbor, be willing to forgive, be kind to the poor, look at the bigger picture (not just money). There’s also talk about how to confront someone that has wronged you. These basics are conflict resolution 101.
Where does Psychiatry come into play? It helps us understand the individual so the individual can work on the best ways to resolve conflict within society.
Yes, it’s all very abstract. I’ll be fleshing out these concepts in all of my other materials. But if you get it, if it resonates with you, great! If not, that’s okay. I’m still working on refining these ideas. Let me know how I can improve.
Valentines Day is approaching this Sunday so I thought I would share an interesting thought that can help you be romantic “forever” and never run out of ideas to show your loved ones how much you care about them.
It’s a really simple idea but you can apply calculus to it if you’d like.
Let’s say people live for 100 years. I know it’s more like 80 years or so but let’s just do 100 years for easy computation.
There are 52 weeks in a year.
So that means that the average person lives for 5,200 weeks.
This means that if you have 5,200 romantic ideas, you have enough ideas for a lifetime!!!
But if you met your significant other between 20 to 30 years old, then it’s actually a bit less. You do the math.
At this point, you’re either saying, “Wow, that’s totally doable.” or “Woah, I don’t have 5,200 ideas. It’s a lot.” But let me now get to the secret part:
The desires and depth of your significant other, of their personhood, of their identity, is infinite. If you spend the rest of your life pursuing a deep understanding of who they are, you will have an infinite source of personal romantic ideas available. Suddenly, 5,200 ideas are small compared to the infinite expanse of someone’s heart.
We’re not on this earth for very long. Just 5,200 weeks. But we have a chance to pursue an understanding of how to love other people to an infinite scale. If you have this mindset at the center of your love for others, you will always have something worthwhile to do with your life.
I hope I don’t have to explicitly explain how this applies to Psychiatry and Religion.
So next time you want to show your loved ones how much you love them, you’ll know that to do this in a high performing, consistent way involves taking the time to understand the infinite desires of their heart.
Happy Valentines Day!
High performers have a tendency to see emotions as an afterthought. They either help you enjoy the successes you’ve made or they’re in the way of achieving greater things. They need to be controlled, managed, and dealt with. Good emotions are good. Bad emotions are bad. Less bad emotions are good. More good emotions are good.
However, there’s a more sophisticated way of understanding emotions that can lead to greater clarity. I’ve found time and time again that people who try to control their emotions exert a lot of psychological bandwidth on this.
The results are usually not good as actions are made on a subconscious level. When people come to me emotionally confused, I help them understand and process their emotions. Only after that process do they gain greater clarity. More clarity = More Action = More Power.
It is important to understand that emotions are not things that you can manipulate. They just exist. However, emotions are very powerful because of one undeniable fact: They are always TRUE.
Your mind can play tricks on you. You can have great lofty ideas of how the world works, false perceptions of how others think of you, or incorrect beliefs about yourself. The mind has a whole series of defense mechanisms to prevent you from learning the truth because the truth might be very hurtful to your ego. However, one cannot achieve great things without understanding reality. One cannot understand reality without having a true perception of the world.
Emotions have the ability to make you take an irrational course of action. Irrational decisions lead to bad results. Bad results by following your emotions lead you to ignore your emotions.
However, that is not the power of emotions. Emotions are not rational, but they are TRUE. The power of emotions is to point you to a greater truth.
If you are feeling sad because your dog died, it points to the truth that you love animals, that you love all living creatures, that you are a kindhearted person. Feeling sad is a necessary part of your experience because only kindhearted people who love animals would feel that way. And that’s okay. It’s part of the package.
If you’re feeling frustrated because of incompetence at work, it points to a truth that you value efficiency, consistency, and results. It points to a truth that you are a hard worker, and you hold others to a higher standard. That’s okay. Now it’s time to inspire others to view work the way you do, to model things appropriately.
All emotions, good and bad, points to a greater truth about yourself. A person that masters an understanding of their emotions has the greatest clarity on themselves. Clarity = Action = Power.
When I think of Religion, I think of large organizations with specific beliefs and principles. These beliefs and principles are unwavering. It’s either their way or the highway.
You might have heard the phrase, “you shouldn’t test God.” It can be found in Matthew 4:7, Luke 4:17, where Jesus references Deuteronomy 6:16. In that story, the Devil is asking Jesus “Dude, if you’re truly awesome with God, throw yourself over the mountain and prove it” to which Jesus replies, “Don’t test God, Jackass”. This telling of the story is paraphrased significantly but I don’t think it significantly distorts the message.
From this concept, we get the idea of “Don’t test God.” From that idea, we get that God should never be questioned and as far as religious organizations are concerned, they should never be unquestioned as well.
However, there’s a small issue with regards to the advancements of science. Science is all about testing. Through testing and the scientific method, we’re able to learn greater truths about our reality. We learn the laws that govern our world and create really cool things! (like e-mail newsletters).
This is where science clashes with religion. And as far as Psychiatry is a science, this is where Psychiatry clashes with Religion.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way. I believe that although a person of faith shouldn’t put God to the test, they can certainly put their interpretation of God to the test. This has huuuuuge implications.
If you say, “If I don’t get a pony tomorrow, God does not exist.” That would be wrong on many levels. You receiving a pony doesn’t have any bearing on whether or not God exists.
However, if you say, “If I don’t get a pony tomorrow, then my understanding of God as a pony giver might need revision.” This is an entirely different story.
If your understanding of God does not play out for you in a meaningful way, then you might want to re-think your understanding of God. A meaningful connection to God is one that is actively engaged in your life, one that is evidenced by your experience.
A God that you actively experience something I want for you.
Have you ever tried to balance your budget? Some people find it fun! Other people find it dreadful. Yet other people might say, “What’s a budget?”
But, what does Psychiatry and Religion have to do with balancing a budget? In my view, everything!
When most people balance a budget, they get their income and they make a list of their expenses and they make sure the first number is larger than the other. If it is, great! If it’s not, then something needs to be cut. However, I want to go deeper.
Understanding what your budget reflects about you is the key to making the change you want to make, to becoming cash flow positive.
When most people list “money comes in” and “money goes out” they’re often missing the point. The real secret is that every line in your budget represents a part of you. Every line in your budget represents a habit you’ve adopted. You can be seen as the sum of your habits.
If you work, you will make an income reflected in your budget. Do you enjoy your work? Is it something that fulfills you? Do you feel it is providing you with what you need? If yes, great! If not, are there ways to get what you truly want out of life?
If you pay rent or have a mortgage, why did you make that choice for that specific place? What percentage is it compared to your overall budget?
If you have a phone bill, did you get the most expensive plan, the cheapest plan, something in between?
If you get coffee every morning, is it the expensive, brand name kind or something more basic?
How often do you go shopping for clothes? Is it really fair to say that these are “one-time” purchases when you make similar ones every week?
Every line in your budget represents who you are, a habit you’ve adopted, or the way you live your life. When you reflect on your budget as a reflection of yourself, you can begin to ask, “Is this who I want to be?” Do you want to be a daily Starbucks drinker? Do you want to be a luxury car driver? Do you want to be the owner of a home? There is no right or wrong answer to these questions. But there is an intentional and unintentional way of spending money. The latter gets people in financial trouble.
If your budget doesn’t reflect who you want to be, then it’s best to spend some time answering that question before conquering your budget. If you don’t, you're just crunching numbers for numbers' sake.
Chez Eric Media