Motivation Monday | Are you secretly in love with what's holding you back?

Years ago, when I worked in an office, I became overwhelmed as my responsibilities increased.  Work piled up and I simple couldn't finish it all within a workday.  I sprang into action by visiting my local library and checking out heaps of time management audiobooks.  I listened to hours of advice on how to put first things first, and eliminate distractions while raising my effectiveness to the highest level.  

A short time later, I was elated to find that I was able to finish my work before everyone left the office.  The day had gone so smoothly. But when I look up at the clock, it was only 3:00 pm.  The next several hours were sheer torture.  Although I was a salaried employee and could have went home if I wanted to, the perception of me going home at 3:00 pm would have been detrimental to my career.  The next couple of days I repeated the process and completed my work in record time.  But I became bored with the idle time and secretly missed the chaos of having to rush to get something done last minute.  There's something exhilarating about seeing a challenge in front of you and focusing all of your energy to conquer it.

Here's another story.  I sat across a table listening as a manager detailed the challenge of working with her new team.  She micromanaged them to the point where they needed her for absolutely everything.  On her off days, they'd frequently call her at home to ask the most basic of questions.  She even told me about the time that she slept in her car on the side of the road after working until well after midnight and being so tired that she had to pull over and rest.  Her newlywed husband begged her to quit, we begged her to delegate, but she held on to her old ways.

After listening for a while, I began to coach her.  Through asking a series of questions.  I helped her to see, that even though she complained of poor work life balance, she secretly loved it.  If she were to walk into work and find her employees  taking initiative, thinking for themselves, and solving problems, she'd feel insignificant.  So she ran her operation in a way that feed her need to add value.

Last story.  In sixth grade, there was this kid who constantly made fun of me. Every chance he got, he'd laugh at my name or say something about what I was wearing. It was non-stop.  In science class he sat near me just so I could be in earshot of his constant insults.  Then one day, my science teacher walked up to him and said "Leon, I know you like Nadege, stop bothering her."  "Like!?!?"  The guy absolutely hated me.  But when I looked over at him, Leon was smiling shyly, slightly embarrassed.  I could not believe it. This guy who did nothing but talk bad about me since the beginning of the school year secretly liked me.

You are Leon.

You complain about things that you secretly like.  You say that you hate your current job, but you secretly love the security.  You say that you tired of being overweight but, deep down,  you don't want to give up your current habits.  You talk about wanting to create something new for yourself, but you're doing everything to sabotage yourself so you can hold on to your current reality.

Let me share an insight with you. Every time you get emotional about something, it triggers off an area of your brain.  Emotional can be happiness or sadness, anger, joy, anxiety, excitement. Any type of emotional reaction sends a message to your brain.  If you repeat that reaction enough times, your brain gets used addicted to it.  So whenever I had to work twice as fast to get caught up with my work, a part of my brain received a jolt.  Each time I put something off until the last minute and miraculously get it done in time, I got a rush.  But, when I practiced sound time management principles, everything went chemical shot to the brain.  And truthfully, I missed it.

In my relationship, there are certain things my husband did that triggered my reaction.  I'd complain and nag about things that seemed really important to me.  He's a bit stubborn so it took him a while to shift his habits.  Then one day, he started doing things differently.  Suddenly there was nothing to complain about.  I found myself almost looking for opportunities to go into my long rants because that's what I was used to.  Once I realized what I was doing, I stopped and shifted to looking for things to praise him for.

Your homework for today is to take an honest look at all the things you complain about/focus on.  Ask yourself the question, do I really want my situation to change or am I secretly holding on to it and feeding as one would do if they found a stray animal?

One thing I realized about myself was that I wasn't focusing on what the next step would be once I removed the issue from my life.  Once the issue was gone, I immediately felt a void.  I had to fall in love with the quiet that comes with completing all of my tasks just as much as I loved the chaos.  To free yourself from your attachment to old, negative habits, you have to create strong positive emotions around your new habits.  Don't cringe and make a face when you have a salad for lunch. Enjoy it.  Don't constantly talk about the negative things in your life.  When you do, you turn into Leon.  You're just expressing secret love for it.  You can talk about the actions you're taking, you can talk about what life will be like once it's gone, but you can't keep complaining about.

Every time you complain about an issue, I want to you imagine yourself, sitting in a chair, wearing a t-shirt that says "I am Leon" while stroking a stray cat that's sitting on your lap.  Because that's what you're doing. That stray cat represents the problem that you've identified as your pet.  It's skinny and scraggly looking, but every time you complain, you're feeding it so it gets fatter and more significant.

Don't be that guy.


  1. This is message is resonating with me right now for so many reasons. If you have time I would love to know which books helped you with time management. Thanks.

  2. HI Anon!
    Some that immediately come to mind are Getting Things Done (David Allan) and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen Covey).

  3. OUCH!!!! You are the messenger God used to deliver this message directly to me TODAY!

  4. Another great post, Nadege! This reminded me of a similar notion in The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle that says our egos secretly love when being sad or miserable--that we find happiness in complaining but refusing to either let go or take action--because we are addicted to the feeling of self-importance that results, or we like secretly prefer the ease and comfort that come with not making a change. I really needed your post today because I have been complaining and moping about my current job situation. I am bored and disconnected with the work I do now. I have started looking into career opportunities abroad but I am struggling not to talk myself out of it! Thank you for speaking against self-sabotage!

  5. Hi Tay,
    I have to back and listen to the Power of Now. It was such a powerful book. Thanks for the reminder.
    Oh, and please follow your heart regarding your job. Life can change, in a beautiful way, when you step in the direction of your dreams.

  6. This is right on time. Just got off my knees crying out for things to be different and I read this. Your blog is so relevant to everything I'm growing into and aspire to be, thank you girl!

  7. Jessica, thanks so much for your comment. If you ever want to connect, please reach out to me via my contact form.

  8. this is such truth!! what you focus on expands and I know that but looking at it this way...very well put! something to think about...for example with the husband...if he stops doing the behavior that i nag him about...will i be happy? or will i feel the need to find something else to nag him about? finding the positive things, just a few things, starts the gratitude ball running and it brings to your more in your life that you DO want!

  9. I love this post so much! You're such a blessing


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