I had an appointment this week with the dentist. One of the interesting things about growing older is the realization that you are outliving the useful life of some of the components of your body. In this case, it was a crown that I’ve had since the mid-eighties. It was time to have it replaced.
So as I was sitting in the chair all “numbed up” and the dentist had just completed the necessary drilling to remove the old crown and was now wrestling it into submission with what I thought was a pair of pliers. All of a sudden an awful “crack”, much like the sound of a walnut cracking, and out of my mouth comes parts and pieces of my old crown all over my face! The dentist, as well as the hygienist were surprised and very apologetic and then said, “Close your eyes!” That would have been good information just prior to the incident.
Ironically, I am reading the book by Dr. Henry Cloud called, “9 Things You Simply MUST DO to Succeed in Love and Life”. In it, the author points out why some people’s lives appear to “work” and others just don’t. As luck would have it, the chapter that I happened to be reading at the time was entitled, “Pull the Tooth”. Here is the gist…
Dr. Cloud writes that successful people don’t hang on to bad stuff for long. They get rid of negative energy. He states that negative energy sometimes comes from things that are not innately bad, but simply are not best for the person involved. They are not bad in and of themselves; they just distract you from the deepest desires of your heart and the most important things in life. They take up time, resources, energy, and attention and do not get you where you want to go. So successful people identify them…and get rid of them.
Examples of these might come in the form of relationships that are not going anywhere. Things you are paying for that you’re not using. Time you are spending in areas that is not contributing to your overall well-being. Negative energy might take the form of things that need to be fixed or realizing that they can’t be fixed and then just letting them go.
Once realized and identified, the next step is to get busy either fixing them or dealing with them directly. I know for myself, I can easily spot things in my life that I “need” to deal with…it’s just the act of beginning to deal with it directly that sometimes gets put off. That then becomes an energy drain. It becomes a negative placeholder in my life that is taking up space that something good could be occupying.
So why do we hesitate to take action? Two reasons. Fear and Hope. Fear of someone’s anger or hurt. Fear of someone’s judgment or disapproval. Fear of not having the skills to combat the counterattack or the ability to deal with a confrontation.
We also hold out for hope. Hope that things might change. But this change will not happen without action. This means investing time and energy in working towards a result that you have a solid reason to believe will be achieved. You’ve got to be working on it…not waiting for it.
Dr. Cloud also points out that the best way to fix a problem is not to have one to begin with. He introduces the reader to what he calls the “Cringe Factor.” It’s that little voice inside that tells you things you need to listen to…but often rationalize away. When that little voice tells you something is wrong…there is usually a reason you feel that way. We all need to get better at listening.
All of this brings me back to me and my tooth. I am currently living with my temporary crown awaiting the delivery of my permanent replacement. I’ve been given instructions on how to care for it until the replacement arrives. Most of the instructions have to do with things I can’t or shouldn’t do. I am in a season of “oral transition” as I like to call it and I have to take “special care” of my temporary tooth for a time.
My life is like that as well. I am in a period of transition. My life is asking new things of me. I am being asked to look at my life and identify anything in it that I’m not happy with, proud of or that is not moving me forward in my life. I am learning to see my life as something I am solely responsible for and all the energy that comes from that life, both positive and negative. It’s up to me…live with it …or change it. Brush the tooth…or pull it.
How about you?