How to Stop the Ticking Time Bomb on Your Most Destructive Behavior
This is the solution if you're serious about making a change in your life.
It was Christmas 2010, and I arrived at my sister's house to spend the day celebrating, but I just couldn't do it. I had spent the previous evening, yet again, completely blind drunk, digesting another cocktail of stimulants that I justified with another pathetic excuse. As the taxi pulled up to her house, I dreaded walking inside.
After 20 minutes of incoherent conversation, I walked upstairs and into my nephew's bedroom. There was a single bed with Thomas the Tank Engine bedsheets. I got inside, rested my head on the pillow and fell asleep. When I woke up, most of the day had gone.
I left that day ashamed, embarrassed and feeling like a failure as a man. During the week, I was someone that people looked up to, but behind all of that, there was a lot of darkness, a lot of shame and, most of all, confusion.
I wasn't where I wanted to be as an entrepreneur, and my toxic behaviors certainly weren't helping me, yet I wasn't actually doing anything to change. I had no idea I was facing a ticking time bomb.
The ticking time bomb
Every negative behavior has a series of consequences. They impact us, but they also impact the people around us. The biggest challenge is the ego (the false self), which tells us that it will just go away or won't get that bad. But the time is ticking, and the more that the behavior continues, the more potential it has to lead up to a catastrophic life event.
This event often eats away at us, rips families apart and ultimately sends us in a downward spiral. When this happens, in most cases, it massively impacts a business because the body goes into a state of shock and survival. We lose focus, have trouble managing ourselves and deal with elevated emotions from others who have to pick up the pieces. This takes up energy — the energy that was once in creation, serving clients and having an impact on the world. This can go on for months, or often years.
During this time, we lose vital confidence. In reality, some entrepreneurs never recover from this, especially if there is a lack of taking responsibility and blame. Sometimes, this event puts them into financial ruin.
The window of opportunity
Despite negative behaviors occurring, the universe, source, god, whatever you choose to call it, presents small windows of opportunity for us to grow. This happens in various ways, but one of those to be hyper-aware of is resonance. This is when you read something, encounter someone or experience an event that you feel in your body. It's an opening for you to walk through. If we miss this, the door closes. That could be for another month or another year, and during this time, something terrible can happen.
People who live in skepticism or fear and are controlling and arrogant will most likely miss these windows becuase of an attitude that keeps them stuck in the same cycles. They will take the same behavior onto the next relationship (intimate or business), and the destruction will be passed onto another person.
If, however, that window opens and you step through it by asking for help, it starts the process of change, which then leads to not only your own level of internal peace, but also keeping others in theirs. Disrupting other people's peace is an act of selfishness that many times others don't recover from. Often times, the chain reaction spills down to children and their behaviors. Many adults are living as wounded children who are not healthy as a result of parental dysfunction. However, we have the power to break that cycle and become the catalyst for change.
Sometimes, I will tell clients not to build friendships during the time we work together, especially if there's a chance that their behavior could influence someone else and drag him or her down with them.
It takes courage to change
Once the window has opened and you get the sign that someone is close to you that can help, the next step is to reach out. The next component to this is absolutely critical. When entrepreneurs reach out to me, they often do this indirectly. Because I know this, I'm able to pull it out of them and allow the transformation to begin.
However, many people do not do this — sometimes they're too busy, but in most cases, they don't see the message as a cry for help. So, the key is to be direct about why you're reaching out. The primary reason people avoid this is because of shame, embarrassment and fear. We take a micro action to move forward, then don't follow through. Once again, this the self-sabotaging behavior coming into play. The best thing to do is admit the issue, own it and then act with the intention to solve it. Let me share two examples to demonstrate this.
"Hey John, a great book on this topic, just wanted to message you and tell you I loved what you said."
Deep down, the person wants help from the author, but doesn't have the courage to be honest and direct. In most cases, the answer will be "Thank you for the kind words."
Let's take a look at the power move to transformation.
"Hey John, I read your book and I wanted to say that it resonated with me deeply. Personally, I'm struggling with this, and I would love a conversation to see if I can solve this ASAP."
The person is honest about what he or she is feeling and is working towards an intentional outcome.
In the first case, the time bomb will continue to tick, depending on the receiver of the message; in the second, the person seeking help is on an accelerated path towards a solution.
Once I started to be more direct about how I communicated with people, my personal transformation started to speed up.
Changing your behavior
So now the window has opened, and you stepped through, took an intentional action, and now you're ready to change. To ensure you have the best chance of reaching success, be brutally honest about every part of your life. Be 100% commited to change and following the process that's laid out for you.
If people come to me wanting to change, but they're not fully committed, it just won't work because it takes effort and self-discipline to take the actions required. However, when you go all in and surrender to the process, and you're coachable, you will go through your transformation at a faster speed.
Behavior change requires going to a place that is emotionally uncomfortable and taking new actions that will be different from what you're used to. In the example of addiction, because the opposite of addiction is a connection, that means that the person will need to start to feel the feelings that have been suppressed for many years.
This also means letting go of control because the ego wants to protect itself. You must ask yourself this key question: Do you have the courage, and are you willing to trust someone to guide you through change, even if it's really uncomfortable? If the answer is yes, then that's good news; if the answer is no, then sadly, you will need to continue to find the person that you relate to the most so that you feel safe with him or her. The alternative is that the process will stall.
Do you want to change? If you do, then take action today. Not tomorrow, not when the time is perfect, but now: The window has already opened.
As you move forward with your life, notice how the information you consume affects your body. Many times, that little feeling is a signal to take action. Now, you're using your intuition to guide your life to more happiness, more success and ultimate fulfillment. Once you stop that ticking time bomb, you become the hero of your own life.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor