Have you ever received feedback that you felt wasn’t accurate? Or you tell yourself that they “just don’t know all the facts”. Perception may not exactly match the truth, but it accurately matches what they feel is true. Something they heard, saw, or experienced led to this perception and it is up to me to own that reality, and to make the changes necessary to improve their perception of me. I have to ask, “Is that a belief I want them to have?”
Is that a belief I want them to have?
This is hard to admit… My wife and my eight year old daughter believe that I have a problem with alcohol. I applaud them for having the strength and courage to call me out on this, and to ask me to improve. Regardless if it is true, it is not something I want them to perceive of me, and not something I want to be known or remembered for. So I took a bold step, and decided to refrain from alcohol for some period of time, maybe indefinitely.
Am I an alcoholic? Sadly, I must admit that I am a “highly functioning alcoholic”. I might not drink to the point of intoxication. I might not get into legal or other problems due to drinking. And, I might not use alcohol to cope with stress or other issues. However, I realize that I enjoy to drink to celebrate things, to loosen up in social gatherings, to unwind after a long day, or to complement a meal. I don’t even need a reason, I just enjoy drinking. Admitting this, I can see that although it may not be a “problem” to me, it is clear that I am in fact an alcoholic and it may be a “problem” to others.
How we live, and what we do influences others. My drinking has an influence, and when your little girl thinks you drink too much, it is a clear sign that this is influencing her. Alcoholism is not part of the legacy I want leave behind. She deserves more…
As I write this I am home alone, late at night, drinking coffee. I have gone 10 days without a drink, and want to be fully transparent, I frequently have the urge to just have a drink. In fact, I asked my beautiful wife to have lunch with me before she and my daughter left for the weekend to do a mother daughter retreat. It was embarrassing for me to share with her over lunch that all I could think about was how easy it would be for me to have some drinks after she left. How I wouldn’t be hurting anyone. How it could be my little secret. Why did I tell her? Because I know exposing light to the dark areas is important, and I know she loves me despite my weaknesses.
You know what she said? She said, “You do what you feel is right. I am proud of you for not drinking this past week. I love you regardless if you drink and I love your willing to share this struggle. Even though I won’t be there, I will be praying for you. I love you!”
I am lucky to have a strong support system that is willing to lift me up and speak the truth in love. I cannot imagine how I could deal with all of my issues without these people. Sadly, many people don’t have this support structure, or the problems became so severe that they pushed all the supporters away. I hope and pray that this is not you, and that you learn, grow and improve with the support of loved ones around you. Regardless, you are worth more than the issues you struggle with. Take that next step, and make the changes you need to be your best self. Your life effects others, and only you can truly change what effect you will have. Let it be a legacy of strength, of resilience, of perseverance, and let it positively affect all those you come in contact with.
Perception is reality to those around you. If you receive feedback that isn’t aligned with what you want people to believe you have to ask yourself, “Is that a belief I want them to have?” If the answer is no, I urge you to take the feedback and make whatever choices you need to improve their perception of you.
We can all improve. I would love to hear your story so please share in the comments area, or if you want to share in private please email me.
As always, I wish you the best,