Eliminate anyone who
- Lies to you
- Disrespects you
- Uses you, or
- Puts you down.
When I saw this ‘positive motivation’ post come through my FB feed, complete with its gratuitous naturey, flowing, waterfall background graphic, I thought to myself, “I hope no one is going to take this one seriously. I mean, ‘eliminate’ is a pretty harsh thing to do to someone. Don’t you think?”
There were over 40,000 likes, 300,000 shares, and 1,400 comments on this post. I poured through some of the comments. They confirmed my bad assumption. Many people were taking this seriously. If that wasn’t enough, a 5-step variation was re-posted by the same person on the exact same day I wrote this article. A weird coincidence?
The new regurgitated version had a naturey graphic as well. Instead of a soothing waterfall in the background, it had a dramatic mountaintop scene. As I mentioned earlier, there was an extra step that mutated from the original four. The new step? “Eliminate anyone who tries to control you”.
Not so Easy
Let’s reflect for a second. Who doesn’t lie to you or doesn’t try to control you in some way? Maybe that’s what we should be asking ourselves before we blindly execute this detox programme.
So the instructions aren’t as straight-forward as they might seem. Now, I have three unanswered questions:
- What does ‘eliminate anyone’ really mean?
- Who doesn’t lie to me — heck, I’m not even sure that I am always honest with myself?
- Who doesn’t try to control me? We all have our own agenda whether we want to admit it or not.
Let’s throw in a real-life scenario. Take your run of the mill boss. By definition, your boss is paid to control/manage people. Should we eliminate our boss? How about our spouse? How about our government? Obviously, governments don’t really tell us the truth, and their main function is to control. Case in point regarding government dishonesty: the recent Flint Michigan Water Crisis.
Part of the Problem
Here’s another question to throw into the mix. What if we are part of the problem? What if we are the reason, people are lying to us or disrespecting us? For example, let’s play the role of the boss. What if we are so unapproachable (zero empathy) that no one would dare give us any bad news or admit to any wrong-doing (resulting in excuses and finger-pointing). If we don’t look at our own contribution to what we perceive as, being lied to or people disrespecting us, then we are irresponsible. There is ALWAYS a contribution model in place for EVERY relationship. Before you rush off and eliminate your ‘controlling’ spouse, figure out your contribution. Look at intention versus implementation. Your spouse’s intention may be pure, but the implementation or your perception of the implementation seems controlling. And maybe it is controlling in a good way — like persuading you to stop smoking, cut down on greasy food, or spend more time with the family instead of at work.
One Step Programme
So for me, to ‘detox’ my life, I think it boils down to one, not so easy step. My one-step detox programme: try to understand more. If people are trying to control me, I need to make an effort to understand why. Is it for the greater good of my family, team, company, or country. If I am being lied to, is it because I can’t handle the truth? If people put me down, is it because they don’t know me or are afraid of me? Is it jealousy? Am I arrogant and narcissistic? And so on.
I’m not in any position to ‘eliminate’ people in my life: my family, friends, colleagues, management, government, etc. And that’s okay. I don’t want to be in the ‘elimination’ business. I would rather be in the ‘exploration’ business. I want to explore what other people are thinking to understand more about them and me each and every day. It’s the responsible thing to do.
Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most (New York: Penguin Books, 2010).