I Don’t Do Cocaine, I Just Like the Aroma

by | Jun 14, 2023 | CC Favorite Essays, Essays

Many men have become stuck in their lives – stuck in the proverbial ditch.

Some of us are aware of this and are overcome with doubt, while others don’t know it yet – or even sense it for that matter. There are some that think whatever challenge they’ve just crushed is validation that they are somehow on the right track in life – that the status quo’s version of success will lead to life full of meaning. But, way too many of these high achievers are stuck too. They haven’t run out of challenges yet, or gotten tired of constantly “refilling their bucket.” But when they do, they’ll see the ditch for what it is – the place of such “stuckness” that only a powerful intervening force – life’s version of a massive tow truck – can get them back on solid ground.

How do I know? I was stuck for a very long time, and perhaps the most pervasive thing I did that reinforced my being stuck was telling myself stories that somehow always had me playing the hero or the defender of what is right. It was all a lie I told myself so I could, ironically, maintain the same downward trajectory in my life and avoid seeing myself as anything other than an incredible, strong and righteous man.

Looking back, the direction of my trajectory was irrelevant, I had grown accustomed to the ride, and the “stories” I told myself to coddle my ego solidified my downward dysfunction. The result was a life lived at a sad and sub-optimal level that was surprisingly comfortable. In truth, I became comfortable with slowly failing health, degraded relationships, arm’s length transactions in personal encounters, defensiveness, and a lack of meaning in my life. I was young and stupid and about to end up in the ditch.

I don’t do cocaine, I just like to smell it…now that’s an example of a “story” that we can all spot instantly. But what stories do we tell ourselves that bear some resemblance to this one? What do you do – that you explain away with a story – that is as absurd as “smelling cocaine?” Think about it.

One of the most insidious ingredients in the toxic blend of personal growth inhibitors that creates the never ending state of “a life stuck in pause” – the thing that eviscerates our growth – are the stories we tell ourselves. These massively destructive stories about our place in the world, our roles as fathers, sons, husbands, friends, neighbors, leaders, founders, and followers are ripping our legacies to shreds.

These stories bear no resemblance to objective reality, nor do they reflect the way the people we love and respect the most actually see each of us. We lie to ourselves to feel better, to excuse the work we haven’t done (or what we have done and shouldn’t have) to avoid seeing the truth. And in case you didn’t know, the people in your life – your spouse, significant others, buddies and co-workers – put up with your stories, but they don’t believe them. They pat you on your shoulder and tell you “hang in there” – but inside they are calling BS. Seriously, your stories are slowly ruining your most important relationships.

The truth I noted above is an objective, widely shared understanding of truth, thus I’m not talking about “your truth.” Frankly, it’s more than a little ridiculous when someone starts droning on about his truth. More often than not, the words “my truth” is a cover phrase for the stories I tell myself about why I don’t do the things necessary to confront myself, my choices and my path in life. Your truth has nothing to do with objective reality, and it exists only inside yourself – not in the real and tangible world. This doesn’t mean that your truth isn’t a valid representation of your perspective about yourself and/or the world around you – thus, a story. But, it likely isn’t a valid excuse for the context in which you attempt to use it to explain whatever it is you are explaining away. It really is that simple.

Now, If you recoil from this narrative as if I have done something terribly wrong in introducing these ideas about “your truth” – you’re in real jeopardy of losing the fleeting opportunity to move away from the abyss of a life lost to stories. So check yourself.

Ironically, these stories likely emanate from real trauma experienced in the past, and the emotional residue of those experiences is now shaping your perspective and slowly taking control of your life – that is, if you’re on the story telling train. And if you are…the things you despise most about your past are the things guiding you into your future. That cannot stand.

Stop trying to be right, indignant and righteous. You are wrong frequently, entirely unholy, and as ridiculous as the next guy. We all are. I certainly am. So, start seeing your life for what it is, and change it before it’s too late.

You have the ability to confront yourself, and that takes immense courage. And courage is the first step. To confront your worldview, your self image and your path forward is a powerful action. And much will come to a man that can – without an inhibiting fear of what he might find – search for answers about himself. I have been there. I am coming from the perspective of experience, and most certainly not trying to beat you down. Put plainly, I want to help you. If you want help, carefully consider these questions:

  • To grow and find meaning and purpose in life, are you willing to challenge your story-driven self image and your perspective about life (and your place in it)?
  • What is the most powerful and destructive story you tell yourself that is reinforcing “a life stuck in pause?”
  • How do your stories limit your personal growth and your prospects in life? Yes, stories are the most powerful facilitators of limiting beliefs and limited opportunity.
  • What story did you tell recently that made you feel both relieved at the telling of it (to depressurize the current moment) and yet left you feeling hollow? You know what it is don’t you? It’s probably the same story that has become the narrative around which you currently exist. What is it? Start dealing with it now.
  • What would happen if you gave up the story telling? What if you fully embraced the idea that you are the captain of your life’s voyage and the author of what is to come next? What would happen if you took charge and accepted responsibility for everything in your life? Can you sense the power you’d have?
  • You get one life. What do you really want for yourself?

If it’s meaning and purpose, dig deeper into CONQUER CULTURE – it’s time to conquer yourself.

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