I Don’t Want to and You Can’t Make me!

I was at a conference recently where I did a presentation and also had a booth. The talk went great, and while the screaming Belief Monkey flying across the room was a big hit with the crowd, my most memorable moments came after the talk.

I love it when something I say sparks an insight or new awareness for someone, and when that also triggers a personal shift within, well, it is just magical—and it’s why I do what I do.

There were probably about a hundred and thirty people who heard me speak, but there were others who stopped by the booth who hadn’t. If they had, they would have known what they were in for and would have steered clear. However, my book’s bright tangerine-yellow color and mesmerizing title called to them like a moth to a flame. Living the Life You Love“Oh, yes, sounds great! I want that!” Even after picking it up and reading the subtitle—The No-Nonsense Guide to Total Transformation—things were still going okay. But then, as most of us do, they turned the book over and started reading the back cover. And that’s where they ran into trouble.

One woman simply said, “I know I need to make changes, but I don’t want to.” She put the book down and added, “I’m just not ready.”

Okay. I didn’t try to talk her into or out of anything, just told her it was really great that she was being honest with herself—that’s huge. The internal struggle was evident in her eyes, but she said, quite wisely, “You can’t do it until you really want to,” then turned and walked away.

Another woman picked up the book and nodded along as she read the top three paragraphs of the back cover, however, when she hit the bullet points, the nodding stopped. She made it to “New ways to look at food, exercise and money that make healthy choices easy,” and stopped reading. I know that because she’d unknowingly said the words aloud. She looked at me then dropped the book back on the table as if it had burned her hands. “No, no I can’t do that! I don’t want to do that!” she said, a bit hysterically. Then, she literally ran from the booth. Now, she didn’t actually, say, “and you can’t make me,” but it was implied. She was terrified that I was going to say something that would force her to deal with what she didn’t want to.

My heart went out to her. I know how it feels to be in that place of knowing you need to make changes and terrified of what it will mean if you do. It can seem impossible, because the very thing you need to do—what you must do—is the very thing you think will tear your world apart. But there is no other way. To stop the pain, you have stop running from it and face it down.

The glimmer of light is that whether they realized it or not, just by picking up that book and reading a few words, they pushed themselves closer to wanting to face their problems. They may have said some version of, “I don’t want to and you can’t make me,” but what I heard was, “I know I need to do this and I will—I will! I’m almost ready.”

The cat in the photo above looks more defiant than scared, but the bottom line is still the same—you have to face what you don’t want to. Once you do, it no longer holds you hostage. You stop making excuses for why you can’t do anything about your misery and start finding opportunities for living your joy.

It’s really a pretty great deal.

Go for it!


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Paula Renaye is The Tough Love Coach, transformational speaker and award-winning author. Her acclaimed self-help book, Living the Life You Love: The No-Nonsense Guide to Total Transformation, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best of 2012 and is endorsed by health and mental health professionals. To learn more about Paula Renaye, her coaching programs, classes and workshops, and to read more personal development articles, visit www.PaulaRenaye.

Have you seen the short video book trailer yet? Share it with someone who needs some help figuring out what they want to do with his or her life. Even if they might not be ready to do anything about it, it can help them closer to being ready.

Cat photo by Adrian van Leen

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