If we don’t take our inventory, sooner or later someone will take it for us.
Action: Taking a thorough inventory is a good way to get your life on track when you hit a wall, such as with alcoholism or codependency. An inventory can be helpful when you keep running into the same patterns in any area of your life: work, finances, or relationships.
Many people think that taking a few minutes to look at themselves each day is a good maintenance tool. Some people do this by keeping a journal. Others prefer a mental debriefing, or review, at the end of the day.
Looking at other people may be fun and easy, but looking at yourself is a powerful thing to do.
What did you do today? What did you like about what you did? What didn’t you like, that you’d like to do better tomorrow? See! Answering those questions wasn’t that hard. The way we need to inventory ourselves is fearlessly, not brutally.
Inventory Focus: Are you willing to be as honest with yourself as you can?
“My boss pulled me aside to tell me about something I was doing wrong,” a man shared with me. “But he didn’t just critique my work. He criticized everything I did. I walked away without a shred of self-esteem.”
Many of us grew up with a lot of criticism. We may live with someone now who’s very critical, or we may be highly critical of ourselves. The thought of looking closely at ourselves can make us cringe. We may feel afraid that if we look closely at who we are, we’ll be left without self worth.
The purpose of looking at ourselves isn’t to barrage ourselves with criticism. It’s to identify behaviors we’re doing that are sabotaging ourselves so we can begin the process of change.
Look fearlessly. Look carefully. We can critique what we do without judging who we are. A difficult thing about looking at ourselves fearlessly can be getting past the fear.
Challenge: The hardest part about looking at ourselves can be that, compared to other people, we think everything we do looks good. Besides, if we find a defect, then we might need to change.
When all we can see is what other people are doing wrong to us, it’s time to take the focus off them and put it on ourselves.
Application: Whenever we fret defensive, whenever we find ourselves talking a lot about what others are doing wrong, whenever we’d just as soon not look at ourselves, it’s time to do just that.
“Why did you climb those mountains,” someone asked about my trip to China.
“Because they were there,” I said.
Action: There’s a fine line between having enough challenge that you roil up your sleeves and decide to do your best, and having so much pressure that you cave in.
You can use the energy from legitimate challenges to change, grow, and solve problems. Anger, frustration, and fear can be great motivators. Instead of being overwhelmed, maybe you can try to take an active interest in what you’re about to do.
If you are bored, you can create healthy challenges instead of self-sabotaging ones. Set new goals and dreams in relationships, at work, and in your spiritual life. Instead of picking a fight in a relationship, try setting a goal to grow closer to the person you love. Bored at work? Maybe you need to put more of yourself into your job, or learn something new, or change what you ‘re doing.
Most of us need something to push against. It’s harder when ljfe’s events come out of the blue and push us. It’s one thing to be pushed against. It’s another to be pushed so hard we fall down and stay there. Maybe you could start getting up, just a little? If your problems have knocked you down turn problems into challenges. Get back up on your fret and take them on.
I watched a man I know help his wife take care of their babies.
“How did you learn to be such a good dad?” I asked. He explained that his father had been a great dad. His mother had died when he was three, leaving his father on his own to care for him and his baby sister.
“So he just stepped up to the plate?” I asked.
“Like Babe Ruth,” he said.
Inventory Focus: What or who—-is challenging you? Are you creating healthy challenges or unnecessary chaos? Do you want it just because you can’t have it, or do you really want it? Are you stepping up to the plate and accepting the real challenges in your life?
“My husband and I finally got our financial situation stabilized,” a woman said. “We knew where the money was going to come from, and we had enough each month to pay bills. My husband and I both woke up one morning almost immediately after this happened and decided we needed to buy a bigger, more expensive house.
“It got right down to the wire. We were in the process of getting the loan when something clicked in me,” she said. “Why are we doing this? We’re just setting ourselves up to have a challenge to alleviate boredom.
“We backed out of the deal. We didn’t need a bigger, more expensive home. What we needed to do was create a positive challenge in our lives, not financially sabotage ourselves.
There’s a danger with challenges. Some of us might get so used to needing something to push up against and an occasion to rise to that we begin creating drama-addict challenges, the kind that sabotage our relationships, work, and lives.
“I didn’t love the guy. I didn’t even like him,” a friend said. “But I ended up marrying him- and divorcing him just because getting him was such a challenge.”
Challenges are good. But we need to make sure that responding to a challenge isn’t the sole criterion for the decisions we make.
Challenge: The hardest thing about challenges is determining which ones to take on.