I like to laugh. But, I’ll admit I don’t find most of today’s comedies on TV or film very funny. My daughter thinks I need to loosen up. She might be right. But, I think that most of today’s screenwriters are just not funny. Instead, they rely on shock effect and profane rantings to get a laugh. No thanks. So, imagine my excitement when I recently became reacquainted with a comedy sketch that I first saw years ago. Maybe it says something about my humor. But, I think it is hilarious. Better yet, I think it has a helpful (though simplistic) tip to push us out of our unproductive and sometimes maladaptive routines.
Maybe its my training as a marriage and family therapist that makes this MadTV sketch featuring long-time comedian Bob Newhart so funny. The sketch, simply titled “Stop It”, is a spoof of the clinical counseling session. It presents Newhart as Dr. Switzer who is seeing a new patient named Katherine whose life is marred by struggles with claustrophobia, bolemia, self-destructive relationships with men, and a fear of driving. Though a spoof and clearly outside the bounds of acceptable clinical practice, I think there are some really good lessons for us to glean. Dr. Switzer, who claims to help most people in five minutes, offers Katherine two simple words to cure–STOP IT!
Click HERE to watch the short video.
The sketch is a funny depiction of a clinical setting. But, so many of these issues are anything but funny. Many people are stuck in debilitating habits and thoughts that harm them psychologically, physiologically, spiritually, relationally, and even financially.
How many times have you sat with people and while showing a cool exterior your insides were screaming “STOP IT”? Or maybe others have said that to you in order to pull you out of self-destructive behavior. Sometimes, we even have to say this ourselves to gives ourselves that proverbial “kick in the pants”.
So, in the spirit of Dr. Switzer, I came up with what I believe are the top ten attitudes and behaviors to which I would just like to say “STOP IT!” for those who have a purposeful dream that they want to pursue in their lifetime.
Top 10 Behaviors to STOP
#10 – Thinking Small
Nelson Mandela is quoted as saying
You were created by a God with the universe at his finger tips. Because you are created in the image of God, you are imbued with the creativity from the Creator himself.
Those promising ideas that run through your mind are glimpses of all that you can accomplish if you unleash from the fears. But, it feels safer to stay in the comfort zone of what you can control. STOP IT!
#9 – Denying responsibility for the direction of your life
So many people spend years of their life blaming other people and circumstances for the struggles of life. They look at much of life’s journey as out of their control. They were victims of circumstances.
Their parents, socioeconomic status, job situation, spouse, or children are all to blame for the direction their life took. They fail to see that for the most aspects of their adult life they indeed had a choice. Instead, they succumb to the defense mechanism of blame to excuse themselves and hold others guilty. STOP IT!
#8 – Giving excuses as to why you aren’t moving towards the dreams in your life
Regardless of where you are, you have a choice to take control of the right now moment to move towards your dream. Speak your dream. Write it down. Think about who you were built to help. Set goals. Ask others to hold you accountable. That is what it takes be pursue a life of influence.
There are plenty of excuses to be found if you are looking for them. So many people feel stuck because they see themselves as too busy, too old, too poor, too shy, and a myriad of other self-limiting beliefs. STOP IT!
#7 – Letting your emotions primarily dictate your decisions
We are emotional creatures. That is the nature of our humanity. Our decisions should be both cognitive and emotional. Our emotions are an important, though often unreliable, gauge of stimuli encountered by our five senses. In a real sense our emotions can be that sixth sense–giving us a feel for the intangible merit or warning in an a situation. We do ourselves a favor when we consider what our emotions are telling us. Sometimes, we call it a “gut feel”. But, if your emotions go unchecked and outweigh other considerations then you are likely to make many rash, unwise, and inconsistent decisions that will ultimately steer you astray. STOP IT!
#6 – Trusting that other people will make you their priority
We want to believe that other people, especially those that we trust, will make our priorities their priorities. We expect that when we really need it that we will get a tangible return on the investments that we have made in their lives. You cannot control other people. Many people focus on themselves and their agenda rather than taking the time to ascertain what is important to you.
While we all should have people in our lives that have our best interest at heart, we have to be careful in our expectations. I have fallen for this too many times that it isn’t even funny. I think I need Dr. Switzer on this one. Rather than waiting on God to clear their path, so many people are waiting for others to prioritize them and give them the attention they crave or help them to open the door that they think will create exponential opportunities. STOP IT!
#5 – Accepting other people’s agenda for your life
If you do not have a plan for your life, other people will give you their agenda for your life. And, their agenda will most likely not be in your best interest. Your agenda should be a product of your dreams and passions. But, if you are not actively moving towards those dreams, you are more susceptible taking on the agenda that other people have for you. Sometimes, these people are well intentioned. Other times they are self-centered.
If you are running through life without an agenda, you are selling yourself short. And, frankly, you are walking in disobedience to what God has created you to do. STOP IT!
#4 – Believing that you don’t have enough time or resources to pursue your dreams
The scarcity mindset is one of the most pernicious mental attacks that we face. Often, it just feels stifling. In fact, it is so pervasive that we don’t even think of it as a scarcity mindset. But, anytime you don’t think you have enough of something to do what God created you to do you have acquiesced to what Dr. Carol Dweck calls a “fixed” mindset.
I like the instruction that God gave to Gideon in the book of Judges (6: 14) to “Go in the strength that you have”. If you obey this command you will find the resources you need along the way just as you need them. When you find yourself stuck in a “Can’t Cycle” you are closing your mind to the miracles that God has in store for you. STOP IT!
#3 – Wasting time and energy on people and things that don’t fulfill your life’s purpose
How much of your life have you spent pursuing things that ultimately have little long-term or eternal value? Are there relationships that have demanded a lot of your time but ultimately did little to push you towards what you are on earth to do?
Sometimes, the problem is not other people or things. Sometimes, it is our own co-dependency. We gravitate towards needy people to feel that we have value. We sabotage our life purpose by constantly pursuing things within our comfort zone but fail to transform our life or others.
Anthropologist, Paul Hiebert says that we each are either moving towards or away from God. I think the same is true for our purpose. Some people can look at their social circle and the primary activities of the last twelve months of their life and struggle to discern a clear progress to purpose. STOP IT!
#2 – Waiting for Perfection
Great is the enemy of good enough.
There have been times when I have struggled to get creative works perfect before I feel comfortable releasing it for public consumption. People are exposed to so much content that I have struggled in getting something perfect before I wanted to “hit the trigger”. This attitude applies to so many areas of our personal, business, and ministry lives. We want others to see us as a paragon of perfection rather than the flawed humans that we really are. I don’t mean to suggest that we shouldn’t put forth things with extraordinary value.
But, perfection is actually a process. It is hard to imagine that most things can be perfected until they are out in the public space to be refined. Tendencies to keep everything close to the vest until they reach some perfectionist standard is probably more a result of a need for control–which in most situations is an illusion anyway. STOP IT!
#1 – Focusing on Yourself
You are here on earth to make a difference in the lives of others. The gifts and talents that you have are for others. And, as Zig Ziglar famously said “You can get everything you want in life if you help enough others get what they want”. So many people, however, think that they have to look out for themselves because no one else will. But, rest assured that God will look out for you. And, as you care for the needs of others, He will bring others around you that will indeed invest in you. Too often, however, we short circuit what God can accomplish through us because we will not release the reigns of our life. STOP IT!
So, there you have what I believe are the top ten things that the fictitious Dr. Switzer would tell us to STOP. Like Katherine, we can take offense to the parsimonious intervention or we can decide that enough is enough. I hope that you and I choose the latter.
What would you add to the list of things that Dr. Switzer would tell us to stop if you wanted to be a person of influence and reach your dreams?
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