Do You Ever Give Yourself Tough Love?

"I promise I will never do that, again!"

At some point in your life, whether as a kid, teenager, or adult, you have likely said or done something inappropriate. In the aftermath, when you recognized the wrongful nature of your behavior, you said, "I will never do that, again!"

Most of us have uttered this common phrase, but we end up doing it again. As a child or teenager, our inappropriate behavior resulted in some type of corrective discipline from an authority figure, such as our parents, teachers or coaches. The disciplinary action, also known as "tough love", provided some intense lessons which served to help us grow. We learned, if nothing else, that there are consequences to our action.

Fast-forward to the wonderful world of adulthood.

While there are standards of behavior, or "rules of engagement", in dealing with people, failure to comply with those standards does not always result in immediate disciplinary sanctions from someone else. Ultimately it is our own behavior that will determine success or failure in our efforts to achieve a desired relationship, career, income, or health. As I tell people in workshops: your behavior patterns either help or hinder you.

Perfection is impossible, but when we make some of the same mistakes repeatedly, it is easy to lose hope. Broken promises to ourselves are more difficult to handle than those made to others. The reason for this is that when promises are broken to others, they react to us and force us into action. When they are to ourselves, we lack the self-accountability for engaging in those actions that hinder our progress.

In order to "get it right" we must institute a Tough Love policy in our life! Research shows that tough love is the best way to handle disruptive and destructive behavior. Yes, there must be a logical consequence for handling your own bad behavior. The sequence involves (1) acknowledging what you did wrong, then, (2) deciding an immediate punishment. The punishment has to be more than a pledge of "I will never do that, again." It must involve removing a favorite privilege or item. You make the punishment choice, but don't ever make it too easy on yourself, or give in by prematurely ending the punishment.

My challenge for you this week: Engage yourself in tough love.

  1. Identify a behavior you repeatedly perform that prevents your progress toward a goal.

  2. Confess to yourself that YOU have the power to end this self-sabotaging behavior.

  3. Decide on an appropriate punishment that will end your performance of this self-sabotaging behavior. Make sure the punishment period is a minimum of 30 days!

The life you want is at stake, so accept this week's challenge and say YES to this drastic self-accountability approach!

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